3 Steps to Making Money off of That Junk in Your Storage Unit

Krista Diamond | Feb 28, 2017 @ 09:00 AM

Imagine what your storage unit would look like if you got rid of all the junk you’ve been meaning to get rid of since...like...forever.

We’re not talking about the actual trash. We’re talking about the stuff that you don’t want to throw away but also don’t want to have in your home either. Stuff like that pricey bridesmaid dress you’ll never wear again, or that $200 couch you bought in your twenties or even that antique mirror that has been in your family for 50 years but has been in your apartment for zero days.

If you’re putting off cleaning out your storage unit because you don’t want to throw the contents into the dumpster, why not make some money off of all that junk instead?

Don’t worry, selling all that stuff doesn’t have to be a full time job. Here’s a three step guide to getting rid of those unwanted items in your storage unit and getting paid.

1. Divide and Conquer

If you’re ready to sell that junk in your storage unit, the first thing you have to do is make sure that you’re selling it in the right place. You can do this by dividing the items that you’re looking to make money off of into categories.

Here are the three basic categories most (if not all) of your items will fall under and where to sell the items in each category:

Clothing

Separate clothing into two piles: affordable to splurge-y but still affordable items (clothes that you bought from places like Target, JC Penney and most shops at the mall) to designer or special occasion items (clothes that you bought from a high end boutique or wore to your own or someone else’s wedding).

The more affordable items can be sold to consignment chains like Plato's Closet, which tends to be pretty liberal in what it accepts and Buffalo Exchange which can be slightly more selective.

The luxury or special occasion items should be listed on websites like Tradesy or The Real Real as these will typically give you a better return on your investment than most consignment stores will.

Electronics

While you can always take that old digital camera or used smartphone down to the local pawn shop, your best bet is to sell the item online. Websites like Gazelle are ideal for selling electronics, especially if you’re looking to sell old smartphones. Another good option is Buy Back World.

If you’re in a hurry and don’t feel like waiting for your electronics to sell online, try Amazon Trade-In. This Amazon service—which works for other items too, by the way—allows you to sell your items directly to Amazon (they cover shipping) in exchange for an Amazon gift card.

Furniture

As with clothing, the best way to sell the furniture that’s currently taking up space in your storage unit is to divide it into categories. There’s the furniture you bought new, the furniture you bought used and antique furniture.

The furniture that you bought new should be sold for slightly less than its retail value. How much less will depend on wear and tear. If you have a somewhat expensive piece of furniture that you’d like to see fetch a decent price, a website like Chairish is a great place to list it.

If you’re selling furniture that you bought used, you might be surprised to learn that you’re actually in a pretty good position to make money off of it. Unlike the furniture that you bought new, furniture that you bought used hasn’t necessarily lost value in your possession. You can sell the item for higher than you paid for it, so long as you aren’t selling it for higher than its retail value. Do this by downloading the Let Go app, which allows you to post photos and start selling in what feels like mere seconds.

For vintage furniture, which, while used, can often be the most expensive furniture in this category, you really want to make sure it catches the right eyes. The best website for this is one you might not think: Etsy. Yes, that website that your co-worker uses to sell the jewelry she makes is actually a haven for vintage furniture sellers and buyers.

2. Go Old Fashioned

Looking to the digital realm might be the best way to reach a wide audience when selling clutter from your storage unit, but there’s still a lot to be said for doing things offline.

In addition to listing your items online, place flyers with photos in your local community. Your nearby coffee shop, library, college campus or the mailroom at your apartment complex are all great places for this.

Continue to tackle the local market by listing your stuff in local Facebook groups or even on your own Facebook page.

Go to your local consignment or thrift store (the one that’s not part of a chain) and see what kind of offer you can get.

And as a last step, don’t underestimate the power of a good old fashioned yard sale.

3. When in Doubt, Craigslist

On one hand, Craigslist reaches a large audience and can give you the opportunity to turn a tidy profit. On the other hand, so many other people use it that your own listing can get lost in the shuffle.

To avoid feeling like you’re shouting at a brick wall on Craigslist, do a few things to bring traffic to your ad:

  • Create a separate ad for each item, rather than listing them all under one blanket “Selling stuff from my storage unit” ad.

  • Keep your ad clear and simple. People don’t want to read an essay about the table you’re selling. Stick to facts like the dimensions, the color and the condition.

  • Include photos. Make sure they’re good quality photos. You don’t have to buy a fancy camera to take them; just make sure you’re photographing the items in a well-lit space and you’re getting the best angle.

  • Price higher than the amount you’re looking for and negotiate later, but avoid the phrase “or best offer,” unless you’re okay with being lowballed.

Remember, Craigslist ads expire after 30 days, so relist yours (or consider eBay) if your item hasn’t sold within a month.

With these steps, you should be able to watch your storage unit empty out while you’re wallet fills up. Happy selling, and try not to spend it all in one place.