Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I want a refund!

After the wedding and honeymoon is over, you may find yourself left with a huge hole in your pocket and a stack of bills to pay. Don't fret! You can get a "refund" and make money back from your wedding by selling your leftover décor and supplies.

Tomorrow it will be 5 months since our wedding, and I am thrilled to say that I have sold almost all of the décor that we used for our ceremony and reception. After the wedding, we were left with a number of new and gently-used items. I mean, what was I going to do with 5 birdcages and 30 white tablecloths?

I love selling things on Craigslist and eBay, and I realized that with the spring, summer, and even fall coming up, that there would be many brides interested in finding a good deal on wedding items this winter. As of today, I have been able to make back between $1200-$1400, which I have given back to my parents. The only things I have left are 2 shepherd's hooks, a spool of ribbon, and some table numbers.

Here are 10 tips for selling your wedding items:

  • Post pictures from your wedding! People are more inclined to buy things when they can see clear photos of the items, as well as what they look like when in use. Good lighting is a plus!
  • Offer discounts. For items that I had multiples of, I offered an individual price as well as a discounted "lot" price. If someone purchased all of the items, they got a discount.
  • Call your friends. I knew of at least 5 other couples getting married after me, so naturally, I told them what I was selling. Even my mother-in-law was interested in purchasing some of our tablecloths (which she was able to use for my brother-in-law's rehearsal dinner!) 
  • Socialize. With Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you can reach a number of people on social networks. I had friends who "shared" posts with their friends and family. One of my friends is a photographer, and she posted my listings in a local photographer forum, which generated lots of interest.
  • Be flexible, but firm. David makes fun of me because I always try to bargain with someone when buying, yet I almost never budge on price when selling. I can't tell you the number of times I've made a contact and set up a time to meet, then met with the person and been asked to offer a discount. When that is the case, I generally stand firm and say no. My reasoning is that the person wouldn't have contacted you and set up a time to meet if they weren't already willing to pay the price discussed...but if it's a reasonable request, say, you listed something for $7 but they only have $5, then let the $2 slide. It's not worth it to lose the sale.
  • Do your research. It's fine to sell new or like-new items for what you paid for them. My theory is that an item is worth what someone will pay for it. That being said, don't expect to get all your money back on opened or used items. For things like that, do your research on Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, Google, and find the right price. If you list an item and find it doesn't get any interest, re-list it or "renew" the listing. If it still doesn't get any hits, re-think your list price. Usually a $5-$10 discount can get you a buyer.
  • Be safe. 
    • There are some sketchy people out there, and you can tell a lot about someone from their e-mail etiquette. If someone is flaky, uncommunicative, sketchy, or rude, don't sell to them. 
    • Avoid meeting a buyer at your workplace or home. Try meeting at a well-lit, open, public establishment. A good place is Starbucks. 
    • If you can, avoid giving out your phone number. Some people insist on talking on the phone but in my opinion, it's not necessary. You can communicate just as clearly through e-mail. Craigslist does a good job of anonymizing/masking your e-mail address. You could also set up an e-mail address solely dedicated to buying/selling or use Google Voice to mask your phone number. 
    • When meeting someone, bring a friend with you. If you have to go alone, make sure that someone knows where/when you're meeting the buyer, and make sure to check in with them after you you're done.
    • For Craigslist, I only accept cash. (The last thing you want is to accept a bad check and end up paying bounced check fees.) For eBay and Amazon, you can set up a payment account through PayPal.
  • Sell everywhere. I usually try selling my items through Craigslist first because I can avoid fees. However, if you want a quicker sale, you may need to sell through eBay or Amazon. These sites will charge you listing fees, and then you either have to account for the shipping costs in your list price, or pay the shipping yourself. This may or may not be worth it to you depending on how much the item is worth. 
  • Be patient. One of the ways I am able to sell items at the price I want is because I'm patient. I don't mind waiting and sitting on an item until the right buyer comes along. I can't tell you the number of low-ball offers I get from people. I turn down unreasonable offers because I feel that my prices are already fair and discounted. Often times those same people will come back and say, "Okay, I couldn't find it anywhere else. Can I buy your item?"
  • Be clear. You will avoid a lot of unnecessary e-mails and wasted meetings if you are clear in your listing. Provide clear, quality photos of your items. You can use a ruler or item of reference to indicate size in the photo. In your descriptions, make sure to list details. Include color, size, dimensions, quantity, price, condition, etc. You can also avoid questions by indicating where you're located (not your address, just the general area), whether or not you're firm on price ("firm" means you aren't willing to negotiate, "OBO" means "or best offer"), when you're available to meet, etc.

Hope this information helps those of you who are interested in selling some of your leftover wedding items. These tips can also be used for selling non-wedding items, of course. Best of luck and happy selling!

the Bride


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