Turn your garage clutter into cash
Spring is here, which means it’s time to clean out your gear shed and sell off your old kit. For tips on how to cash out, I called Josh Sims, who owns Gear Fix, a consignment store in Bend, Oregon, that processed 50,000 pieces of gear just last year. Here’s what he said.
You might love your old Gore-Tex jacket because it’s been to the top of several pretty mountains. But don’t let sentimentality get in the way of a fair price. Sims says gear is like a car: the minute it walks out of the store or comes out of the UPS box, it loses 50 percent of its value.
Research the Price
Ski season is over, and you’re ready to get rid of your old boards. Don’t do it. Wait until the fall. “We don’t take even really nice skis in summer, because nobody will buy them,” Sims says. Just like you, people are putting money down for bikes and tents, not objects for sliding on the quickly disappearing snow.
Clean Your Gear
“It’s surprising how many people don’t clean the items,” Sims said. “That goes a long way in price and sell-through.” A quick wash with a technical detergent from Nikwax will clean up sleeping bags, shoes, and jackets, and make sure to shake out and hose off your old tent.
Repair Any Problems
Sims says buyers are hesitant to buy anything they have to work on—and damage affects the price. “Factor in the damage plus another 10 to 20 percent for the inconvenience,” he says. It’s easy to patch a hole in a sleeping bag or tent with something like Tenacious Tape, and it’s also fairly easy to send a pack back to the manufacturer to have a zipper repaired.
Take Good Photos for Online Sales
Think of online product photos like dating app photos: you want them to be clear, well-lit, nicely composed, and realistic. Buyers, just like singles, want to know what they’re getting into. Also, take lots of photos. Show different angles, shoot detail photos of product highlights or damage, and post them at a decently big size (check the vendor website for recommended specs).
Where to Sell Your Gear
Outdoor Consignment Shops
Consignment shops like Sims’ take a good chunk of the profit—usually around 40 percent. But they also do the price research, deal with haggling customers, and get the gear out of your closet.
You get all the money when you sell gear on Craigslist, but you also do all the work. “With Craigslist, the big con is your time, giving people your address, or going to meet them, and then people bailing on the sale or trying to talk you down,” Sims says. He suggests using Craigslist for local sales of bigger items, like a canoe, that you don’t want to ship to an eBay bidder across the country.
Do not sell big items on eBay. “Even if the buyer is willing to pay for shipping, it’s pretty inconvenient to ship a kayak,” Sims says. The site is great for smaller, random pieces of gear. No one in your city might want a ten-year-old bike part, but there’s usually someone on the internet who does. Warning: eBay encourages sellers to be open to returns. If you want to avoid this hassle, be up front about any defects, and take lots of good photos.
“A garage sale is where you are going to get the least amount of money, because those people aren’t walking around with $500 cash ready to buy your kayak or bike,” Sims says.