Aren’t I Going To Lose Money Putting My Things In An Auction?

I see it all the time.

A person walks me through their house carefully showing me this item or that item. 

“This kitchen table is over 100 years old.”

Many times people just aren’t ready to let go. 

Selling your things is a personal journey. 

If I feel like a person isn’t ready to let go I often suggest they put their items on Craigslist or eBay or even have a garage sale.  Take your things to the Hartville Flea Market.

Test the market. See what you can get for an item.

I often hear exciting stories from the resellers who come to my auctions. 

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“Remember that table I bought from you for $30? Well, I took it to Hartville and sold it for $200!”

I love stories like that. I love helping my buyers find good deals that they can turn around and make a profit. 

I’m basically a wholesaler. I give your things a new life. They get a fresh start with me and move on to be loved by a new family. 

The “big fish” stories I hear from my buyers are great. But I also think they are the exception. 

I’ve sold at Hartville. 

I got my space on a Friday at 5:30am. If you don’t get there early (and you don’t have a reserved spot) you will be relegated far out in the back. I setup and waited for the market to open at 9:00am. 

I also forgot to bring sunscreen. It was 86 degrees that day. The sun was blazing. I had no cover. I just sat there all day. I’m pretty sure I got sun poisoning. I felt sick and tired the entire next day.

I sold until 3:00pm. I made $50. And about $10 of that went to Hartville for my space.

I’m quite sure my buyers who sell at Hartville could do better. But honestly, I watched all the other “regulars” around me. I didn’t see any great sales going on with them either.

Craigslist can be dangerous. And you always have to arrange a time to meet that is convenient for your buyer and you. But mostly, if you don’t price your items right, you will just find that things don’t sell very well on Craigslist.

Personally, my favorite way of selling (outside of auctions) is garage sales. You get to sit in the shade of your garage. You have your bathroom and kitchen right there. Hopefully you can convince a friend to set there with you Thursday through Saturday. And you can just pass the time. It’s pretty relaxing.

But I get many people that have done all of the above. They’ve had a garage sale. They’ve put their items on Craigslist. They’ve gone to Hartville Flea Market. 

And they still come to me with a house full of stuff they need to get rid of.

The biggest problem I see in garage sales and Craigslist is over pricing. 

What you paid for something at a store has absolutely no relation to what it is worth used.

Look at cars. Some cars hold their value. Some cars don’t. It’s just what the market will bare.

And honestly, most of the things you have aren’t worth that much.

I’ve had people tell me that they hired an appraiser who said their favorite doll is worth $300. They should have sold it to the appraiser. Dolls are worth next to nothing. I’m sorry. But that’s just the case.

Ever since the great recession the bottom completely fell out of the entire doll market. 

I can definitely sell dolls. But not for anywhere near you think they will sell for.

If I see someone who still is in love with their items I tell them to either sell themselves or take them out of the auction. I hate disappointing people.

But almost every time they will tell me they want the things out of their house.

That’s not true. They told me first, very emotionally, how valuable their things are. If I don’t get them what they think something is worth then they are going to be really upset.

These are the kinds of auctions I walk away from.

We are usually at an impasse at this point. They want two diametrically apposed things: A high price for their item and have it gone.

When a person consigns items with me at our auction house I give them several options:

They can set a minimum of $5 or $10 for an item for no extra cost. But if they want to have a reserve price for something higher then it costs them $5 to list it. 

Almost every time the reserve isn’t met. That’s simply because they are pricing items emotionally and not with what the market will bare. 

If they were experts at resale they probably wouldn’t be talking to me. They’d sell the items themselves. The experts buy from me. They are going to take the time to put the items in their store and sit on it until it sells for the profit they feel they can get for the item.

You (and I) don’t have a store. We aren’t retailers. That’s an entire business that takes time to build up. 


  • You don’t have a store
  • You don’t have the expertise or time or interest to sell properly on Craigslist
  • You don’t want to ship items all over the country using eBay
  • You tried a garage sale or you don’t want to do a garage sale

You just want your things gone. You have made your peace with them. They are ready to move on to another life.

That’s where I come in.

I can sell nearly every item in a traditional house in 3 hours. 

My end of the month auctions move about 100 items in 90 minutes. 

I’m selling an item every 54 seconds. 

You come to me because you are ready to move on. If you are worried about getting the best price for your items you probably aren’t ready to let go.

But honestly, I feel like the prices we get for items are pretty realistic. 

  • $40 for a standard dining room set. 
  • $100 for a bedroom set.
  • $5 for a Barbie
  • $100 for a common .22 rifle
  • $20 for the complete set of your fine china

Half the time the biggest issue is space. The bigger the item the less appealing it is. Storage has a price. 

And then there’s the unique stuff…

Now that’s where things get interesting. There are things that my buyers crave. 

  • Old pottery
  • Real silverware
  • Old toys
  • Old sports memorabilia
  • Old signs

There are items that definitely go for a lot of money. But that’s because they are rare. 

If you collected everything that other people collected and they are selling their stuff right now you are selling into a saturated market.

Dolls. Most Dishes. Electronics. Exercise equipment.

You probably have this stuff and so does everyone else.

I can still probably sell it. You aren’t going to love what I’m going to get for it. But hopefully you are going to love that you can move on with your life and you didn’t pay someone to just throw your stuff away.

This is as honest as I can be about my profession. I am a liquidator / wholesaler when it comes to common household items. Real estate, antiques, cars, farm equipment. Those are an entirely different story. We can always have reserves on those items and they will likely sell for at least what you are asking.

But your furniture, housewares, clothes and stuff like that… the goal I have when selling that stuff is to move it. 


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