What to know about online selling in the age of COVID-19

A President Benjamin Harrison White House dinner plate worth $1,000 was bought at a yard sale for $1 and sold with Dr. Lori’s help. Lori Verderame Photo provided When you think of eBay, Etsy, Rubylane.com, Facebook marketplace, Chairish.com, and other sites for online selling, you probably think about electronics, toys, […]

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A President Benjamin Harrison White House dinner plate worth $1,000 was bought at a yard sale for $1 and sold with Dr. Lori’s help.

Photo provided

When you think of eBay, Etsy, Rubylane.com, Facebook marketplace, Chairish.com, and other sites for online selling, you probably think about electronics, toys, kitchen items, jewelry, paintings, magazines, clothes, doorknobs, bikes, celebrity autographs, and just about everything (old or new) else! Working or non-working condition doesn’t even matter when it comes to selling stuff online.

Many people are selling online and I’m showing them how to do it with instructional videos about how to spot a valuable work of art or antique and how to turn something old into something outstanding.

One thing that the recent, albeit horrible, pandemic has accomplished is making all of us more comfortable with video conferencing technology like Zoom, WebEx and Google Duo among many, many others. More of us are talking to our friends and family from home via tablet or smartphone. I’m spending many days each week offering guidance on heirlooms and valuables with video call appraisals to clients all over the world — from Allentown, Pennsylvania, to Perth, Australia.

Another thing that the pandemic has prompted is an opportunity to be at home for a long period of time and to clean out the clutter. During this time at home, we’ve descended into our basements, ascended up to the attics, looked in the backyard sheds, dug deep into the garages and unlocked the off-site storage lockers in an effort to sift through all the stuff. Much of what we have found as we assumed the role of household archaeologist has been a variety of things from lots of different people and places and from all different time periods. Grandma’s flower sifter, castanets from a high school band trip to Spain, your husband’s little league baseball glove are just some of the stuff that has been uncovered during the self-quarantine period ushered in by the coronavirus.

What have we found? We found stuff that we want to donate, trash or sell. We ask ourselves, should I trash it? Our sustainable side says can’t someone use it. Where can we donate it — Goodwill? Salvation Army? Church sale? Synagogue auction? There are lots of places where we can get rid of our stuff, but what about making a little money from this unwanted stuff?

How can we sell it? On our front lawn is an option but no one gets a great return on a yard sale. The best thing about a yard sale is the space you get in the house from the stuff that went out to the front yard. But you can buy something at a yard sale and resell it online for a nice profit.

For example, a Benjamin Harrison presidential china plate from the White House service dating to 1892 was purchased at a yard sale by a client of mine — let’s call her Judy — for $1. She sent me a photo of it so I could identify it for her and I told her what it was and how to sell it online. She did sell it online for a nice profit. She sold it for $1,000 with my help! Amazing. And you can do it too.

Now do you want to know more about selling your stuff online? Here comes more good news. The new technological comfort zone that we have all experienced from the coronavirus quarantine and virtual schooling has made many of us more comfortable with new methods to sell stuff including art, antiques and collectibles online. So, it’s time to get out your smartphone camera, snap some clear and tightly cropped photos of that old toaster or gently played with My Little Pony doll, watch my instructional YouTube videos about spotting valuables and selling and listing your treasures online.

How do you know what items will be of interest to buyers on the secondary or resale market? Most people know that items like paintings, sculptures, antiques, collectibles and jewelry have value, but did you know that sports cards, non-working electronics, and last year’s clothes also have value in the online marketplace? Even pieces of other items can have value as craft materials or parts for workshop tinkerers will buy such stuff. Knitting needles and a bag of yarn that isn’t quite enough for a bedroom afghan can even be sold online.

What looks like junk may be saleable. Even the everyday stuff like a Tinkerbell pillow sham, that wrong color foundation makeup that you never returned to the store or used garden tools are sold in the online marketplace. Sure, the prices may not make you rich but it is still more money than you had when that object was just taking up space in the linen closet or sitting on a shelf in the backyard shed. My mother used to say, “pennies make dollars,” and that’s the way you can learn to take something that looks like trash and turn it into cash.

Repurposers, those talented people who can take an outdated bedroom armoire that once housed a huge 1990s-era TV set and make it into a trendy coffee station for the kitchen/family room with some chalk paint, new hardware and artistic design skills, have been doing this for centuries. When it comes to selling online, look for quality and use my tips to start selling for profit.

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