This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong.
For someone who hates accumulating stuff, I sure have a lot of it. There’s the skirt suit that I haven’t worn in four years, for example. Or the ALF lunchbox that I just can’t part with. Oh, and my indispensable collection of PEZ dispensers.
I could go on, but this is a money blog, not a humble brag about all the cool toys I have.
At any rate, lots of this stuff has got to go, and the good news is: it’s yard sale season! The bad news is: I don’t have a yard.
So what’s an apartment dweller to do in order to get rid of some old speakers and a decent coat that hasn’t been worn since 2008? I have a few options.
Take it to the streets
When I lived in Hollywood, it was common to see my street overwhelmed with yard sales every Saturday morning. It was an apartment-lined street, and tenants in the process of moving out would often dump their stuff on the sidewalk and sell it.
But before assuming I can set up camp on the busy street in front of my apartment, I should check on a couple of things. First, is this permitted? I mean, even aside from acquiring a yard sale permit, which you should definitely look into, are you allowed to just sell stuff on the sidewalk? One Yahoo! writer had some simple, but good, advice:
“If you have noticed people selling things on a specific corner in your town or city, contact the town or city hall for advice. They will let you know where you can have a yard sale, especially if your apartment complex will not allow it. In any case, do not attempt to publicly sell anything without a permit, even on private property.”
Secondly, even if you are permitted to have a yard sale in front of your complex, you should probably check with your apartment manager to make sure it’s okay.
Take it to the Internet
If you have a few valuable things you want to get rid of, sites like eBay, Amazon and Craigslist are great old standbys. I’ve also sold and swapped furniture via Facebook status updates — it’s easier and you don’t have to deal with crazies, flakes or Paypal fees.
If you’ve accumulated cellphones over the years, this site seems to have a cool program that gives you a modest amount for them.
Community garage sales
I’m jealous that Seattle has West Seattle Community Garage Sale Day. In Los Angeles, I encounter multi-family garage sales, but I can only imagine a whole day of garage sale-ing that involves an entire community!
If you’ve got friendly apartment neighbors, though, you can initiate the idea of holding a complex-wide yard sale. Again, permits and manager permission should be taken into consideration. If your neighborhood is planning an event on a particular Saturday morning, that morning might be a good time to organize the sale.
I used to live in a quadplex, and my neighbor and I once held our own combined garage sale. Thinking back on it, it would’ve been really fun to let the other quadplexes in the neighborhood know — maybe we could have made a fun, money-making neighborhood day of it.
Donate for a tax deduction
Your time is valuable. Sometimes, maybe it’s just not worth it to spend two hours on a hot Saturday morning peddling your old collection of Garbage Pail Kids cards. That’s understandable.
Also, sometimes I’ve accumulated enough stuff to get rid of, but not quite enough to host a yard sale, and that’s when I just donate it. I’d rather not see it piling up in my living space, and, of course, the tax deduction is always nice. Just remember, tax law “requires that all household items given to charity must be in good or better condition,” according to tax pro Kay Bell.
Borrow a yard from a friend
I’ve been an apartment dweller for a while now, and back in Houston, my friend’s mom would always encourage me to participate in her semi-annual garage sale. Oh, how Mrs. V loved her garage sales. And she made them so much fun. There’d usually be four or five of us ridding our junk together on a Saturday morning. Lemonade or coffee was usually involved, and she lightheartedly competed with us to see who was making the most money.
If you’ve got a homeowner friend, they might not be opposed to letting you borrow their lawn for your sale. To repay them, you can offer to take care of selling any stuff they’re looking to unload.
Flea markets/swap meets
Okay, I don’t have quite enough stuff to rent space at flea market, but I thought I’d toss in the option. There’s the cost of renting the space to consider, however. For example, while some SoCal markets charge as low as $7/day, others are as high as $70! Also, you may need to consider permits, registration and taxes, according to the Small Business Administration. They advise:
“Fairs, flea markets, and craft shows tend to require more paperwork and permits, since they are usually occupied by vendors or businesses, whereas garage sales tend to be run by individuals… Whenever you sign up to sell at a fair, flea market, or craft show, ask whoever is in charge of the event what paperwork or permits are needed. They can serve as a good resource since they should be familiar with the state and local procedures.”
For more information, check out the SBA’s page on the legalities of selling your stuff at flea markets. They also have some important advice on hosting yard sales — namely, checking with your city to see what the permit requirements are.
So there you have it — a few alternatives for all you apartment dwellers out there. We may not have yards, but we still have options. For my fellow renters, what other routes have you taken to sell your stuff? Any words of wisdom from seasoned yard sellers? Do share.
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