Can clutter become cash?
Well, yes, if you go about it the right way. But, be warned, it takes real effort to turn household goods into money
Your junk may be worth something – but how do you know how much “gold” you have in your attic? TV programmes and a recent Gumtree survey suggest thousands of euros could behiding as junk in your home, and the secondhand market is thriving. How you convert it depends on your own industriousness as it takes real effort to turn household goods into hard cash.
A car boot sale can be a cost-effective way to clear out your home. Peter Vallely, who runs Carboot.ie, believes the average family home has as much as €3,000 worth of sellable stock. He recently downsized and made €6,000 from the sale of his own house contents. While this may have been an exceptional haul, he claims regulars can make as much as €350 per day for their efforts. Popular items include costume jewellery, clothing, mirrors, pictures, toys, old electrical items and tools. You can’t give away old VHS tapes and books, he says. However regular car booters will also know that to make money a car boot has to attract a decent crowd and the challenge is finding buyers willing to pay more than a few euro for quality items.
The quality of the car boot sale is important and it’s worth doing your homework beforehand. Mother of three Anne Hegarty runs a car boot sale as a fundraiser for her childrens’ school, the Queen of Angels Primary School, in Sandyford. At last year’s event she cleared €100. She notes that numbers attending such sales are up: “Before people would donate their junk to charity shops – now they’re looking to sell it and use the monies earned elsewhere.”
The car boot sale is not the place to sell large items of furniture. For that you need to visit auction sites such as Done Deal, Buy and Sell and Gumtree. One seller making a living from selling furniture on DoneDeal is 23-year-old Abbey Haydon, an interior designer who now travels the country sourcing stock from auctions and restoring and upcycling the pieces before selling them on. Since Christmas she’s sold 100 pieces through her business, Humble Bee Furniture. Her secret? She keeps asking prices below €1,000 and counsels readers to “photograph the piece properly” to maximise interest. Photographs taken from different angles are also important to give buyers a feel for a piece. She also reuploads her images regularly so that the pieces appear fresh and, crucially, at the top of the viewing list.
Time for auction
If you’re looking to offload vintage furniture, you could set up stall at the monthly indoor Brocante market in Newmarket Square in Dublin or Paul Byrne of Retrorumage will consider pieces for consignment. He won’t touch large bedroom furniture though, especially wardrobes. “They don’t even burn well,” he laughs.
Jake de Barra uses eBay to declutter. The 22-year-old is a visual merchandiser with Cos at BT2 and recently sold a tailor’s dummy, two rugs, a lamp and a vintage sewing machine for €350. After deducting DHL courier charges he estimates he made €250 from the sale. His advice? “Research pricing and include postage and packing in the published asking price.”
Sean Buckley, of the namesake auction house in Sandycove, spends his days fielding calls from people hoping to make money from household clearances. At the moment the market is absolutely brutal, he says somberly. “What you get for items is dictated by the buying public. You hear astonishing results realised for Chinese porcelain but the fact is that the crockery in most ordinary households is not of that calibre. It will earn just two and three euros a lot.”
Big ticket items are not much more lucrative, he cautions. The auction house will come out to view your house contents for free only if you’re selling a whole house worth of furnishings. And then they will only take what they think they can sell.
“What you can earn varies from €300 to €3,000,” Buckley says. That’s before you factor in transport costs. The contents of the average three- or four-bedroom house will cost €300 to freight – less if you hire a van yourself. Factor in the auction house’s 21 per cent from sales and you begin to see how hard it is to make any money in this way.
It’s difficult to shift household goods. One novice Donedealer trying to clear his parents house has put lamps and brand name china on the website but hasn’t sold a thing yet.
Another option is to employ the services of Andrew Murphy, a man with a white van, who will come and clear your home for a fee. “There’s nothing we won’t take,” he says. Anything that has an innate value he sells on to friends with shops, or on the car- boot-sale circuit. This costs rather than makes you money but they will do all the dirty loading work for you – something you have to do yourself if you hire a skip. If you have something valuable such as a piece of fine furniture Andrew will make an offer to buy it himself.
Eight ways to turn clutter into cash
1 On sites such as donedeal.ie, buyandsell.ie, adverts.ie, gumtree.ie and eBay, you can sell old furniture and other household items in a thriving secondhand market.
2 Learn how to upcycle your junk before selling with classes by Busy Bees Furniture (01-4548871, busybees.ie).
3 Look out for car-boot sales. Queen of Angels Primary School (qoa.ie), in Sandyford, Dublin 16, has one in in May. Carboot.ie has sales at Tallaght Stadium and at Ballymun Trinity Comprehensive. See collectireland.wordpress.com for car boot sales nationally.
4Set up a stall at the monthly Brocante market in Dublin’s Newmarket Square, run by Pat Cooke (085-146 1277). An indoors stall costs €35 for the day. To consign, call Paul Byrne on 086-8566866.
5 Consign furniture to an auction house. Myantiques.ie has a substantial list.
6 Offer designer clothes for consignment at Dublin’s Royal Hibernian Mall (01-6725870); The Secret Closet, Howth (01-8325853); and Tosca, Unit 1, Henry Street, Newbridge (045-438978).
7 Baby Bay Market (babybaymarket.ie) is the place to offload baby-related paraphernalia. Stalls cost from €20 (€1 from every fee goes to Barnardos). The next one takes place at the Maldron Hotel in Tallaght on Sunday .
8 If you are not interested in making money from your junk, charity shops will take clothes, books and small household items. Oxfam Home, on Francis Street (01-874 8175) and Kings Inn Street in Dublin, will take most furniture bar mattresses, divan beds and broken items . oxfamireland.org/shop