There's a good chance that the Beanie Babies you loved as a kid are not worth a fortune now. And maybe you were able to keep a certain Barbie or American Girl doll in a box before you got older—making it worth something these days—but it's more likely that your childhood imagination won over that prospect, too. When it comes to uncovering certain things tucked away in our homes, it's common to think of them as treasures that could, just maybe, make us fortunes. But since that's so often not the case, we usually settle for two other options: donation or garbage.
Nevertheless, the potential resale of everyday products in our homes has grown in popularity recently, even beyond the well-known names of Craigslist and eBay, as more websites begin to appeal to the trendy desire to embrace minimalism. Clothes and accessories that are no longer personally appealing (or "spark joy") often fit this bill, but perhaps the biggest possible profit can be found in furniture, especially pricier items that have been passed down between generations.
"Start looking at furniture the way you look at other assets. We're so used to everything being disposable, but furniture is made to stand the test of time and selling it will help toward the purchase of your furniture for your next space," Brittany Gersh, Associate Director of Art and Home at the RealReal, says. "Also, when you sell online, the reach is so much greater, the turnaround is much quicker, and the potential profit is greater."
If you have an inkling that a decades-old couch or a well-used desk can soon line your pockets with cash, then it's worth it to consider your options. That's why we asked Gersch and Anna Brockway, the co-founder, and president at Chairish, for ideas on how to select, prep, and sell furniture online. "Most of the time, if a furniture piece is in good shape, you can recoup at least something for the item," Brockway says. "Giving these pieces a second or third (or fourth!) life is not just practical; it's smart, chic, and kinder to the Earth."
By following these tips, which also includes where to sell furniture, Gersch and Brockway are optimistic that you can find resale success with little time and effort. And since the same thing probably can't be said about your childhood toys, then at least you can make good on other throwback items.
What to Know Before You Get Started:
Name-brand furniture does best. "The stronger the furniture brand, the stronger the appeal," Gersh says. "Some of our top-selling furniture is from Herman Miller, Knoll, Cassina, Cappellini, and Roche Bobois. Modern and transitional styles attract the most interest from our buyers, too."
Be honest about the condition of the piece. "There's no upside to over-inflating the condition of the item," Brockway adds. "An accurate description that describes the condition of the item and detailed images will increase your odds of a successful sale."
Take great photos. "We always tell our sellers to take high-quality photos with good lighting," Brockway notes. "For photos, you don't necessarily need a DSLR camera, because your iPhone can take great photos. How you set up the shots can affect the outcome, so think about the lighting, background, and angles before shooting. Take one really great photo of the item from the front, and don't cut off any legs or arms. Then capture the details, even the dings or blemishes, so potential buyers clearly understand the condition of the piece. We recommend up to five photos per item, and the more photos and info you can provide, the better. Buyers will feel much more confident buying from you if you're transparent about the item's condition."
Write a thorough description. "Include as many details as possible," Brockway continues. "It is also helpful to format the description with correct grammar and punctuation so that the first impression of your item to the shopper is clear and professional. You should also add keywords to your description because all keywords are searchable on our site and on search engines. For an added benefit, consider sharing how you came across the piece if there's a good story behind it, and how the future buyer could use the item in his or her home."
Offer the value of the piece. "Do your research on pricing and find out whether your item's price reflects what it's worth," Brockway adds. "Pay attention to what makes the piece unique, like a specific maker. If you know what you have, you may be able to sell the item at a higher price point."
Let any seller's remorse go. "While it's always hard to let go of items that have been a part of your life, there is nothing better than freeing up some space and removing an item you no longer need or replacing a piece of furniture with one that will breathe new life into your home," Gersh notes. "Plus, cash from the sale of your item always helps, and our items usually sell in about 30 days."
Tricks to Make Your Furniture Stand Out and Get Sold:
Do your research. "There are a lot of stores and sites that sell furniture on consignment and they all offer different services," Gersh says. "Make sure that you're aware of any fees or requirements, and understand how they price or authenticate items. We make it easy by collecting and storing items, pricing based on market demand, and handling pickup and delivery."
Include any helpful paperwork. "Original purchase information is helpful in identifying what you have and conveying value," Gersh notes. "Custom upholstery or other unique details that are captured on the original paperwork will help support that value, too. Also, the design is a relatively new collecting category, so furniture designers were inconsistent in the way they marked older pieces and paperwork can help trace the provenance of a piece."
Properly care for and track your item. "Once your item is listed for sale, be sure it is properly stored and is easy to access, so when it sells, it's ready to be picked up and shipped," Brockway adds. "Also be sure to check up on your listings every so often. Don't set it and forget it! If it's been online for a while, consider marking the item down. Be responsive to offers that come in and engage with customers who may be interested."
Where to Sell Your Furniture:
The RealReal: Mostly known for selling luxury clothing from designer brands, the RealReal—which is where Gersh oversees home products—also sells furnishings. Come here to find items that exude a high-end eye, whether that includes larger furniture or smaller accessories.
Etsy: Midcentury modern furniture abounds on this well-known small business site, so good looking items of this nature will likely sell well here. Since there are so many pieces to choose from, make sure that your photos are as professional as possible.
Chairish: As an online retailer for vintage, one-of-a-kind furnishings from more than 10,000 small businesses, Chairish is known as a "curated marketplace" of colorful, personality-driven items—it's also where Brockway sifts through the possible treasures. Listings start at $25 and tend to skew more maximalist.
eBay: As one of the original online shops for buying and selling furniture, eBay is still among the most well-trafficked sites for resale goods. Wade through the selection on this site if you're looking to find hidden gem furniture, but be prepared to make a bid that will stand out from the others.
Craigslist: It's likely that you've already perused Craigslist at some point, and it's worth it to consider this option if you have items that are more worn or generic. Yes, there are still beautiful vintage items that can be uncovered here. But if you're looking to make a fast dollar on a less-than-stellar piece, Craigslist is best for that, too.