Online Sales vs. Estate Sale vs. Consignment: Which Is Best?
Whether you're liquidating a relative's estate after their death, downsizing, or cleaning out your own old things to make room for new, the process of figuring out how to move a large number of items can be both bewildering and stressful. This is even more likely to be the case if the items in question include large pieces like furniture, valuable or fragile things, or if you're working under a deadline.
Most people who find themselves in this position will likely come down to three primary options: sell the items individually online, hold a garage sale or estate sale, or utilize a consignment service. Here, we'll run through the merits and drawbacks of each, as well as some tips to help you keep as much of your time (and sanity!) as possible.
You can buy just about anything online these days. Happily, the reverse is also true: you can sell just about anything online too. Online platforms like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace have made it easier than ever for anyone with a computer or smartphone to learn how to sell things online.
The biggest benefit of this approach is its potential to reach a large number of people with relative ease and convenience. All you have to do is post a listing for your item(s) and wait for buyers to message you. Further, although Facebook Marketplace does have a built-in payment system that works with credit/debit cards and PayPal, you're not obligated to use it. Craigslist, on the other hand, doesn't have a built-in payment mechanism at all. For sellers, this can be good news, as it allows them to take payments via cash or apps such as Venmo or Zelle and keep 100% of the profits.
However, for people who are busy or have a large number of items to sell, these options are somewhat less than ideal. To successfully sell on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, you'll need to take pictures and write a description for every single item—a process that can take a lot of time and energy. Further, if you're selling antiques or luxury items, it can be difficult to know how to value and price the items. Unless you're a certified antiques dealer, there's a good chance you'll end up selling yourself short.
The logistics of selling your own items can also be cumbersome, to say the least. Savvy buyers will want to look at the items before buying, which means that you'll have to coordinate their availability with yours. If you do decide to sell items online, make sure not to include your address or other personal information in the listing itself, and only give it to buyers you trust. For added safety, consider having a family member or friend with you when the buyer comes to look.
Estate sales can potentially eliminate a lot of the hassle that comes with selling items piecemeal online. Estate sales usually happen over the course of one or several days, so while you'll still have to take a significant amount of time out of your schedule, it will at least be a consolidated chunk of time. Further, estate sales are usually held at the property in question or the home of the seller, so you're much less likely to have to negotiate transportation with buyers.
That being said, estate sales are often still a labor-intensive ordeal. Each item will need to be priced and labeled, which means that you could still underprice valuables or antiques if you're not prepared to do a substantial amount of research. Further, if you're selling only a portion of the items in the house, you'll need to make sure to separate out the items that you've decided to keep. It's also important that you spread the word about your estate sale, whether that's by posting online, advertising in the local paper, or other means.
When executed effectively, estate sales can be lucrative and successful. However, in the event that your estate sale isn't well-attended or your items simply don't sell, you're likely to find yourself back at square one. For sellers who don't have the time to plan their own estate sale, you can hire a professional estate sale company to do the legwork for you—however, experts warn that you might end up paying as much as 30-40% commission on your profits.
In terms of time investment and profitability, consignment is likely the best option for anyone with a large quantity of items to sell. This is particularly the case for collections that include bulky items like furniture, valuables like designer jewelry, or antiques.
One of the biggest advantages that consignment offers is the chance to remove items all at once—something that can be especially crucial if you're in estate liquidations, when the house itself must be cleared out in preparation for selling. Some consignment services, including North Shore Exchange, will pick up large collections, meaning that you won't have to worry about negotiating transportation. Consignment also saves sellers the hassle of having to list or market their items, saving them potential hours or even days of labor.
Consigned items are also more likely to be priced competitively by professionals who know the value of antiques and luxury goods. For example, the North Shore Exchange consignment process includes a thorough evaluation and authentication for each item. Although sellers pay a commission on items that sell via consignment, accurate pricing means that in many cases, their takeaway profits may still be higher than if they'd tried to sell those same items independently. Further, the commission can be much lower than with other methods of selling; consignors with NSE receive up to 90% of the final sale price of their goods.
Moreover, when you sell with North Shore Exchange, you can rest assured that all of the store's proceeds are being donated to Chicago area charities, meaning that your consigned goods are supporting a good cause.
North Shore Exchange is a nonprofit luxury consignment shop that offers pre-owned and pre-loved designer furniture, clothing, vintage jewelry, and accessories. Our expert Merchandising team carefully inspects all products to ensure authenticity, so you can shop for discount luxury items with complete confidence. Explore high-quality, timeless handbags, jewelry, clothing, or home accessories and decorative objects!
You can also donate or consign your own luxury items at North Shore Exchange today. Get cash for the luxury goods in your home, and find new ones at great prices—all while giving back to the community. It’s the best of all worlds!