What to do with the STUFF?

May 18, 2010

I wanted to talk about a topic I get emails about ALL the time – and I figured it’s about time I do a post on it! The question is – when you do all that decrapifying that I KNOW you all are doing, (ahem), what do you do with all of the stuff you want to get rid of? 

There are many options available -- some will make you some money, some will make you a tax deduction. ;)

The first option is probably the most obvious:

The majority of my stuff goes to Goodwill – like new, nice or just OK condition. I find it’s the most convenient option for me, but that’s mostly because I’m insanely impatient. And I can’t stand crap. So when the crap sits around, it drives me mad. Even if it’s something nice, I’d rather just drop it off to Goodwill, get it out of our house, and move on.

That being said, I’ve had a Goodwill pile in our foyer for three weeks now. The good thing about that is friends stop over and take most of the stuff in the pile, so I have less to lug to the drop off.  ;) (Thanks K!)

There are other options as far as donation goes – Dress for Success is a program for women who are trying to find jobs and need professional clothing. I know there are other similar programs out there as well.

When I did the major decluttering of our basement earlier this year (I still need to finish up a few things and show you!), I took a TON – and I. mean. a. TON. – of stuff to a local women’s shelter. (Two SUV’s full!) It was a lot of baby gadgets and clothing, and I just felt like the shelter was the best place for them. The battered women who stay there often leave home with very little for their kids or themselves and need to start over – so it felt good to donate so many things I knew they could use.

And of course there’s ways to make money while getting rid of crapola, which is a total win-win. A biggie this time of year is the garage sale, of course!:

I have to tell you, I’ve never been a huge fan of hosting garage sales. It may or may not have to do with the fact that I have to be up at 7 a.m. on a weekend to get it accomplished – which is just absurd. I mean, really. I sleep.

Secondly, I hate the haggling. I mean, you should see me in NYC’s Chinatown – I’ll go after a price with the best of them. But something about going back and forth about $2 just rubs me the wrong way.

And it’s usually hot.

And early.

Oh, I mentioned that. :)

Instead of hosting my own, I prefer to take a carload of my crap to a friend’s house for their garage sale, and let them get up at the crack o dawn and sit in the sun all morning. Works for me!!

When it comes to home decor items, I’ve had GREAT success with consignment shops:

They are shops filled with great stuff people don’t want anymore that you see and you totally didn’t know you wanted (but you do). You’ll find furniture, dishware, art, light fixtures, accessories – it’s a treasure trove!

The shop I use goes through my items when I bring them in (this depends on the shop – you have to make an appointment at some places), picks out what they want, then keeps a record of my items. When they sell, I get a percentage of each item, and then I get a fun little check in the mail every month.

Or…I may or may not go in and check my balance and then spend said balance in the shop. Maybe.

I always make more than I would at a garage sale. And I have to do very little make that cash. Awesome. Some shops will give you money when you drop off items – they’ll determine what they would sell it for and give you your percentage up front.

There are also consignment shops for men’s, women’s and children’s clothing and baby gear. I find these are much better to shop at than to sell at – I just don’t get the same return that I do at the home decor shop. But that could be because I spend $4 on Wal-Mart t-shirt and call it done.  :)

The Web is another option for making money off your items – eBay is one site of course. I used to sell junk great stuff on there all the time and made good money. The fees seemed to get higher though, and all of the buying shipping supplies, finding boxes and packaging items just became too much.

There’s another option I know many folks use – craigslist:

Something about craigslist has always given me the heebies. I just have never felt comfortable having complete strangers come to my house. The few times I have sold items on it I have been a nervous wreck the whole time – and I don’t use my name, a email with my name in it, I don’t give out my cell number – and it still makes me queasy.

I have only had two buyers come to our house – one picked up the items from the front porch and left the cash under the mat. The other came in because I had called her and talked to her for days and felt comfortable with her coming in. And even then I still regretted it when she left. Every other time I have met folks at a public location to give them their item.

It’s a personal thing – I’m a freak, as you know, so take my thoughts with a grain of salt. ;) I know many who have made great money and found some fantastic items through craigslist!

I tried out one final option a couple months ago and absolutely, positively loved it. I hosted a swap for a few friends – everyone brought their goodies and we piled them up:


Obviously, we ran out of room. ;) Next time, I’m borrowing a bunch of tables!

I prepared a few snacks, some drinks, and we had fun just hanging out. Because there weren’t many of us, we just kind of had at it and grabbed what caught our eye:


There was very little hair pulling and just a bit of pushing.  :) Nahhhh…we all behaved. But I expect the number of attendees will grow next time I host this, so we may have to draw numbers in the future. I’m considering a “holiday” swap as well – just for Christmas decor. Wouldn’t that be festive?

I highly recommend the swap – I can’t tell you how fun it was! I got a fab find from my friend Beckie – I’m still trying to figure out what to do with it though. I have to sit on things for a while. And leave them in my foyer. Yes…it’s still there, two months later.

So did I forget anything? Any other options for donating or selling that stuff you don’t need anymore? You know I’ll keep harassing you to decrap your place, so you might as well get to it. Seriously. I can be very irritating persuasive.

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  1. In years past I would drop things off at the Goodwill after I had 3 or 4 bags. Up until last year all of my girl's childhood toys were still in their old playroom in the basement. My youngest who is now 16 wouldn't part with any of her toys, but finally relented last year & we sold many of their toys at a garage sale. What didn't sell on garage sale day we donated except for some nice Barbie items, houses, airplane, car etc and some barely used dolls which we sold on Craigslist. Always had really nice people come over. I only gave out my address when they were on their way & only let people come over when my husband was home. We are finished decrapifying the house & we have our old playroom half full of stuff. This is just since our fall garage sale. We are having another & hopefully last, garage sale this weekend. Then I'm back to bringing things periodically to Goodwill.

  2. So, like, when you compile a whole bag of baby clothes that you are FINALLY ready to give up, you don't put it in your trunk, drive around town with it in there for several weeks, then put it BACK IN THE HOUSE (well... garage) when it's time to take a road-trip?


    Your ideas are pretty good, but I think I've really got something here with my strategy.


    PS. Do you think that if the clothes actually make it back into the house that means I have to have another baby? Yikes. --> panicking now at the thought.

  3. Sarah,

    Your swap was a good idea!!! I love going to garage sales and love hosting them. Check out my post on my last sale.




  4. freecycle.com is another good way to get rid of stuff locally. We usually post on the site that our garage sale is over and it's first come first served on the leftovers, and we leave it on the curb. It all disappears! :) YAY!

  5. Don't forget about the Habitat for Humanity ReStore! They take most items (including home accents, lighting, old doors, hardware, furniture, etc), and all the proceeds go to benefit building new homes for loving families. And you get the tax deduction! :)

  6. I go absolutely insane when my house gets filled with junk & it happens often. I finally got to the point that all my kitchen storage items match and have labels. I also cut down to two sets of dishes, sheets and towels - still working on cups and glasses. Why did I ever buy half of this stuff???

    We donate clothing to the children's shelter & battered women's shelter too. They are always in need. Then off to Goodwill with everything else.

    We used to have garage sales - every time we had one, we had so much junk. How does that happen. I think it is all gone and the next year, we have even more. Our entire neighborhood knows us for our sales because I sell cheap - mark everything at a bit over what I would pay & then reduce it.
    Since I redecorate all the time, I always have good decorating things and lots of books. But, I hate the hagglers too. I once had a brand new umbrella marked for .75 and a woman wanted it for a dime. I hate to admit that I told her I would rather throw it away than give it to her for a dime!!! Brings out the worst in me. At the end of our sales, we mark everything down to a dime and we rarely have much left over.
    Then it goes for free for about half an hour & gets packed up for GoodWill. Nothing comes back into the house. I do not want to have another garage sale for a loooong time.

    Thanks for making me feel a bit better about my clutter phobia. I am so glad to hear I am not alone!!

  7. Having a garage sale this weekend. I think the best part about it is hanging out with a couple of girlfriends that are bringing stuff over. But you're right, getting up early :( and all the preparation is sometimes enough to say no more G-Sales! I like the swap idea accompanied by a bottle of wine :)

  8. Sarah I'm with you on the frequent Goodwill donations, garage sales and the Craig's List thing. You took the words right out of my mouth the way you feel about all three of them. Ha! Here I am a public blogger for everyone to see my life though. Go figure! *Smiles*

  9. The salvation army has a 1-800 number that you can call to schedule a pickup...maybe help get rid of stuff a little faster? ;) I don't know if they have a minimum for the service, I just looked into it to get rid of some furniture for a move, but it's worth a try and then you have a resource for the big things.

  10. Vietnam Veterans of America pick up my clothing and household goods donations from my front porch the day after I call their automated service. It's wonderful!! I used to donate to GW, but we got sick of the donations piling up while they waiting for me to drive them to a drop off location and the thought of GW CEOs making around $600,000 has turned me off. Here's a link to VVA http://www.clothingdonations.org/service.htm

  11. You aren't wrong to be nervous about Craigslist. I've bought and sold a lot of stuff and never thought twice - until I saw the news story recently about the man selling a diamond ring. The buyer showed up with 2 thugs who tied up the whole family, beat them and shot and killed the husband. It's a good idea to be cautious.

  12. Ohhhh, a swap sounds like so much fun!!!

  13. I hadn't thought of doing a swap - that's a great idea!

  14. I live in a small place, so when I decide to get rid of something, I need to get rid of it quickly. I usually post it for free on Craigslist or a local alternative that was created to avoid the scam artists. If something's small enough, I drop it at the SPCA thrift store. :)

    When I was in Boston, Craigslist sketched me out, too. A lot of the people who showed up for things were a little odd. However, when I was getting rid of things before my move to Virginia, I listed a "lot" of my shoes. The girl who showed up was the wife of a medical school student. She cried as she packed up my shoes...she hadn't gotten new shoes in three years. That made all the freaks worth it.

    The Craigslist in Charlottesville, VA is considerably less active and the people I've encountered have been totally normal. One of my favorite Craigslist moments was having a couple come up to us at a Trey Anastasio concert and say "we bought your sofa!". :)

  15. I couldn't stop laughing about how that person left the money under the mat!! I get that though, hence I haven't used craigslist and eBay can be a nightmare waiting for the auction days to end and then having to package everything off and mail it!

    I love the swap thing though, any excuse to get together, gab and eat snacks is appealing to me!

    The other thing that made me laugh was the number of times you used the word "crap." My kids think that's a bad word, so every time I read it I wanted to laugh!

    crap, crap, crap, crap, crap....

    Thanks for the post Sarah!

  16. Great options! I'm not a garage saler either, although I did join in with my sister on hers a couple of times. I just sold on Craigs List this year for the first time and I know what you mean. I made sure other people were home and I had the items {2 chairs and then a computer desk} near doors so the people could go right out with the item. I have a small but growing Goodwill pile. I may just make a couple of mini trips when it gets to so much just to get it out of here.

    Nice post!

  17. I price crap (I mean valuable merchadise) and store it in a clear tote in my garage (yes more than one tote) and donate them to my church's annual garage sale. We just had it last weekend and the church made $1300.
    I also get impatient sometimes and donate to GoodWill where I routinely shop for bargains!

  18. I'd love the option of making some extra cash from a yard sale, but I am NOT good with selling stuff. Funny, b/c I love shopping at yard sales. ;)

    I am a huge fan of dropping stuff off at the Salvation Army, which is just down the road from us.

    I would really like to do a swap, but not sure exactly how to make the numbers thing work. I like that idea though....

  19. Craigslist bothers me too and I've heard that freecycle here in the Atlanta area is dangerous.

    I love the swap idea. It sounds like so much fun. Hopefully I wouldn't put out anything that one of my friends gave me! :)

  20. In our area we have a Purple Heart that will leave a card in your mailbox with a date and on that date they will come around and pick up your bags of clothes or household items. You just leave it on the porch or curb and attach the card. They come about once a month. There is also something similar for Veterans that does the same thing.

  21. I am glad to know that my mission to declutter isn't the only one that isn't rolling ahead as fast as I would like it. After one year, yes...one year it is considerably downsized. Most of my stuff goes to Goodwill and then the best goes to a cat rescue resale shop. If I can toss a few things in a friend's garage sale I do. I am with you about ME having a garage sale. The last one I had a man took a picture, put it in his trunk and refused to pay. NOT worth the hassle!!!!

  22. I agree. I went absolutely nuts when my hubby had a stranger from Graig's List come to our home! I suggested he have the buyer meet at a nearby cross-road or an open parking lot (depending on where the buyer is coming from). This eliminated the "just curious" folks. Everyone who came to meet somewhere... BOUGHT!

    I just discover this site a few minutes ago. I like it. I will be peeking in from time to time. Thanks for doing this.
    God Bless!

  23. I love your drive to decrapify!

    What works for me is that I keep a Goodwill bag/box in the car *all* the time. I never open a drawer or cabinet without thinking "What in here can go??" Some of it goes in the trash, but anything good goes in the Goodwill box.

    Anytime I'm in the vicinity of Goodwill or other suitable place, I stop and donate the box. I generally give away at least a box a week.

  24. I am so with you on the Goodwill - I say I am going to have a garage sale and then I look at all of the stuff to deal with and nope - it all ends up at Goodwill - I have donated a minimum of 2 houses of stuff - no kidding.

  25. Hey its Mindy from Twisted CopyCat and I am awarding you the Versatile Blogger Award! Please visit my site to see all the details and to pass it along to your favorite blogs!

  26. I love freecycle & cheapcycle {for some reason my town isn't into craigslist, but cheapcycle has been great!}

    But my basement right now is just scary, with piles of crap for a garage sale next month. It's funny how you laugh at dropping your junk off at a friends for their sale... my family has been doing that to us! *lol*

  27. Is it bad that I agreed with everything you wrote about...but then I saw about 4-5 things in that tiny little "swap table" picture that I could figure out great uses for? I think I have a problem...

  28. ok the idea of a Christmas swap is PURE genius!!!

  29. Love the swap idea, I've been trying to get some girlfriends together to do one.

    I typically use craigslist or if I'm feeling impatient, I do the goodwill drop off which means I also get to poke around and look for goodies while I'm there. ;)

    I like craigslist but after a couple weird incidents, I meet people at a public place or come out on my porch with the item. I don't blame you for feeling queasy.

    I love garage sales but don't enjoy standing out early in the morning. I did make $250 this past March when I threw together a yard sale with my girlfriend. It does use up half of your day but it is worth it in my opinion. The profit got to go to new decor.


  30. I have bought a lot of stuff off of craigslist- the town we lived in earlier had no goodwill store...I also used it to dispose of good stuff before we moved to Indy. Since it was a small place, I truly never came across anyone creepy....That said, I have been been wayyyyyyyy more cautious out here.....

    I have read about some free service that gives you ananonymous phone nmber for 24 hours-- maybe you could use that if you have to. However, I find that meeting in a public place such as a mall food court is the best option for stuff you can lug around. Otherwise make sure your husband is around.

  31. Wow...I'm a lot like you in this sense...I HATE stuff! It's funny, I really love interior decorating, but I hate clutter and little accessories. I also like Goodwill, hate holding garage sales , but I do love me some Craigslist! And the consignment shops. If only I could shop them at 9 pm after kids are in bed...the benefit of CL. One thing I won't do is Freecycle, it really creeps me out.

    I recently discovered your blog, and I am so enjoying it! We are currently in the process of selling our out-grown 1st home and "moving up" to get more space. I'm looking forward to having a blank slate to work on, and you may have just inspired me to share it with the world, blogstyle!

  32. Oh I adore a good swap!

    Please stop by an enter my French Basketeer tote giveaway.

  33. All my crap goes to the goodwill. The stuff I can't repurpose at least does. I say try to re-use your crap and if you can't sell it or donate it!!

    I'm so jealous I want to re-do my kitchen!

  34. Love the swap idea. Definitely do a holiday one. I attended a Cookie Exchange a couple of years ago and the hostess incorporated a christmas swap with it for anyone that wanted to participate. We had a great assortment of gift bags, ornaments and home decor items to choose from and it was fun! I may have to try hosting one myself this year!

  35. Decrapified and having a yard sale this weekend! LOL While I hate the preparation, the haggling, the getting up early...I do love the $$$ in the end. Especially when we have sooo many projects in the works it can go towards. The leftovers generally find there way to the local Goodwill or Salvation Army Saturday afternoon.

  36. I'm an ebayer, a Craigs Lister and a Goodwiller. :) Are any of those words? I just always make sure people come by when my hubby is home and usually have it in the garage. And if you are talking with the person before you can USUALLY get a good feel for the character. Of course there are still complete psychos out there pretending to be normal, but if they really want to do you harm then they'll probably find a way to do so, Craigs list or no Craigs List. Just using common sense is a good way to stay safe. But it's all about your own comfort level. Go with whatever works for you.
    Thanks for a good post!

  37. Hi Sarah,
    I am the winner of the D&D giveaway, Kellie DeMille. I emailed last week your gmail account and haven't heard back from you. My email is kelliesu22athotmaildotcom or the same address at gmail. Can't wait to hear from you. Thanks!

  38. I discovered Craigslist within the past year or so and have made HUNDREDS of dollars off my household items I've listed. I make way more than I would at a rummage sale and it is less hassle. I just make sure my husband is home when people come to pick stuff up - we keep our doors locked all the time so it doesn't worry me too much!

    The swap seems like a great idea though...I might need to try that!

  39. I like to donate to the women's shelter. They have a little store that they run also, with the profits going straight to the shelter. I usually put bags in my car, drive around with it for days, need the space ,put it back inside, take it back to the car.... drives my husband insane. :)


  40. I hosted a SWAP party last spring and it was a huge success. I gave everybody tokens for the amount of items they donated and they got to choose that many items from the swap. We went in turns based upon a number in a bag. I love my stuff.

    Plus we had good food and drinks that made the night even more fun. I set it up like a store.
    Good to know others do it too.

  41. Great post! Here's the final post I did on our kitchen. and I LOVED using Home Depot! YAY! I should have gotten more of a discount for all I talked about them. LOL.



  42. i'm nervous when i let ppl into my house to. usually i meet them at public areas(inside a store with security cameras). your swap meet looks fun

  43. Some friends and I held a home goods swap a few weeks ago as well. It was great! There was a holiday table (mostly Christmas)...but none of us were in the mood. So I think it would be great to host a swap for a specific holiday the month prior.
    Thanks for sharing!

  44. Freecycle.com is a good option for giving things away. It is designed to keep things out of the landfill. What you consider trash, another person, with a little elbow grease, may consider a treasure. The closest Goodwill to us is an hour drive away, so I always post my items on Freecycle before I head to Goodwill or the dump.

  45. A group of us hold a "Dust-Collectors" night once a month. Throughout the month we throw things (anything we think someone else might want or need) into bins and bring it to the designated person's house. Then everyone chooses a random number and we go in order and hold up our "crap" :-) one at a time. The first person who says "I'll take it!" gets it, (although if someone else really wants it we do the "choose a number between 1-10" thing) It can go late sometimes, depending on how many people come, but it's SO much fun. I never think I'm going to want anything but one night I came home with a bread maker, a George Foreman grill, and a large mirror to put over the fireplace!! Anything that gets passed over is put into trash bags and the homeowner takes it to Goodwill or the charity of their choosing. I've gone four times now and each time I feel like I've done a ton of shopping without the guilt! I leave a little pile of things I've gotten my kids on the table and in the morning they can't wait to see what I've gotten them. (Whew! Long post, sorry!)

  46. I LOVE both donating to and getting stuff from the local Habitat for Humanity Restore.

    There's also a great used bookstore in town that I use like a library. Find a book. Bring a book. Works well for me!

  47. Just wanted to toss out there that when Himself and I were doing the major reno on our house before we moved in, I was at Home Depot ordering things so often that they were able to pull up my account when they saw me walking up to the Customer Service counter.

    It was less satisfying than you might think. ; )

  48. Anytime I have stuff I no longer have a use for, it's first stop is www.kijiji.ca which is essentially Craig's List for Canadians. People here just haven't caught on to Craig's list...?

    If nothing, then I try a few other online sale locations.

    After that, it usually goes to Goodwill or whatever charity wants to come and pick it up.

    When I was younger, I did a ton of swaps, which went over really well. I wish I had some gfs with the same style and tastes so I could host another one!

  49. We have a freecycle set up with our church and all the members are church members only - so we feel safe and know who everyone is. There is about 150 people on our list now...and it's a FANTASTIC way of getting rid of stuff! One person on the list actually offered to take anything that wasn't snatched up and have a garage sale for her daughters to earn money for camp....they made $500 off the freecycle stuff nobody wanted! Amazing!

  50. I love that so many people donate to Goodwill. I work for a Goodwill and the money we make from your donations is the primary way we finance our programs to help people with disabilities. Keep the donations coming!!!!

  51. Sarah, when I do Craigslist, the item sits in my driveway. No one allowed in the house. And the hubby is always there. Weekends work best. I love Craigslist but you are right, there is a creepy aspect to it that lingers in the back of the mind. Happy Sunday! :)

  52. Sarah, I understand the heebie jeebis about Craig's list, but used correctly, it's a wonderful sight for buying and selling. My ground rules are the same as others; meet the person in the driveway, hubby is home.
    Two other ideas: I think many buyers are just as "heebie jeebie" as we sellers are. There is a starbucks around the corner from my house and I can meet people there.
    Also, I am fortunate that my employer does not mind if I meet a buyer/seller in our lobby for a quick exchange. Both parties feel comfortable.

  53. When I was in Boston, Craigslist sketched me out, too. A lot of the people who showed up for things were a little odd. However, when I was getting rid of things before my move to Virginia, I listed a "lot" of my shoes. The girl who showed up was the wife of a medical school student. She cried as she packed up my shoes...she hadn't gotten new shoes in three years. That made all the freaks worth it.

  54. I find that I have far more clutter since I discovered so many wonderful blogs! Is it better to have clutter, er, umm fabulous finds, waiting to be restored and made over than to have Goodwill remorse? Has anyone else donated something only to see the exact donated item featured in a blog completely made over with a can of spray paint or just re-purposed and looking like a million bucks? By the way, I dropped off 2 cars full of stuff at Goodwill yesterday. If you happen to buy any of my stuff and make it look like something on the cover of Country Living, I'd really rather not know.

  55. You are not alone regarding the Craigslist (CL) phobia! However, I have grown to love Craigslist as a seller because I figured out how to do it safely & efficiently:
    (1) We rent a storage unit at an excellent, secure, clean facility very close-by. We got it a year ago when we sold our home & downsized. As we deciphered what we loved enough to keep (I inherited furniture from two relatives). Items we were selling or donating were put in the unit. Now that all but item has sold, we're getting rid of our unit.
    (2) Only show items at the unit during hours when someone's on staff. The staff knows me & is very protective & genuinely concerned for their clients.
    (3) My listings include a request for the name & number in order to set up a showing (I don't include my number). This sorts out the riff-raff/scammers, etc. Once I talk to them, get a peace about their genuine interest & set up an appt to see the item ... they get my number.
    (4) CL's a great option for selling large items (like furniture) locally to avoid shipping furniture, etc.
    (5) I wouldn't have buyers come to my house. I'd meet them at a mall or something if the item fits in my car.
    (6) CL's also great for free garage sale advertising! A few us neighbors advertised our 1-day garage sale in the paper. I decided to extend our garage sale an extra day that evening. I put an ad in CL at 10:30 pm for a garage sale for the next day. Lots of people showed up including a local resale shop owner that bought all my Pfaltzgraff dishes early that morning! ;-)

  56. I am a new LOOOVVVVEEERRR of your blog, can't get enough! Actually thinking about joining a thriftydecorchickaholic group, nah, just kidding, but I due truly love your ideas. I work at a church and we run a food and clothing pantry for families in need from the community. It's a great place to donate your items, clothing and home goods and feel great about it going (for free) to someone in need, as well as getting the tax credit. So hopefully everyone will consider finding a local church and pantry to donate their unwanted items to.

  57. I am 100% just like with you about "crap" in my home- I want it OUT. Also, I have used Goodwill, craigslist, consignment (Chickadees in Williamsburg, VA), and yard sales. Again, I agree about the silliness of haggling over small money amounts at a yard sale, which start too early in the morning.
    If I don't give to Goodwill, I drive to local church or humane society yard sale and drop everything off.
    Your swap idea is novel and terrific.
    Happy Easter

  58. Loved your post, I came over to read it from Purses and Pigtails simply because of your term "decrapification" I think that is a crazy good word and I've been using it around my house too. I love to give to thrift stores that support good causes. Yard sales are a pain to have, to much trouble to deal with Craigslist usually.


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