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A yard sale is a casual affair; you find a few dozen items you don’t want, put them out for sale, and if some of it is left over at the end, it’s no big deal.
An estate sale is another thing entirely. Usually presaged by a significant life event (or the passing of a loved one), an estate sale is much higher in volume and much higher stakes. You’re usually clearing out a property for renovations and sale, so you can’t keep the items that don’t sell and try again next year.
If you’re fortunate, your estate sale will clear out a majority of the items you need to be moved.
It’s a near-certainty, though, that some things will be left over. Whether it’s a partial collection of ceramics, a few old pieces of furniture, a piano no one wanted to move, or something else entirely, you’re left trying to figure out what to do with it.
Well, we’re here to help. Here are eight ways you can handle your leftover estate sale items.
1: Donate Estate Leftovers to Local Charities
This first option is the best one if you want to get rid of as much of the stuff at the property as you can, as quickly as you can.
There are a number of charitable organizations and resale stores in the Chicago area you can donate items to.
- Goodwill Industries has two donation centers in Chicago; one on Western Ave near 95th and one downtown on Washington Blvd and Racine. Both will accept most items, though if you have a large volume of items to donate, you may want to call ahead and make sure they can take it all (or split your donations across both locations.)
- The Salvation Army has nearly a dozen locations throughout the Chicago area, as far south as Burbank and as far north as Arlington Heights. Again, if you have a large number of items, you may need to spread them out across multiple donation centers – or at least call ahead to know what they will and won’t take.
- Habitat for Humanity accepts certain kinds of donations (reach out to them to find out what, precisely) and has a ReStore location on Pulaski, near Peterson Ave.
- Rebuilding Exchange is a local recycling group that accepts various kinds of construction materials for reuse as part of job training programs.
There are also many smaller, locally-owned thrift stores that may be willing to accept donations. Before you load up your car, ensure that the items are in good shape and aren’t damaged. It’s more legwork than simply dropping off truckloads at a commercial donation center.
Still, you’re more likely to be returning items to the community and less likely to be funding a charity that may not benefit your area.
2: Move and Host Another Sale
Sometimes, you know the items that didn’t sell in the estate sale still have some value, and you want to keep that value in the family. Donating something you know is worth money can be difficult, mainly when you couldn’t sell it the first time. Yet, time pressure is adding up, and you need to do something with it.
Another option is to bring the items home with you and host another sale. This gives you another opportunity to sell the items, adjust prices, get exposure in different neighborhoods, and more.
The biggest downside to this, of course, is storage. If there are large items, bulky items, or just a lot of stuff you need to try to sell, you might not have space for it all. You may be able to distribute it amongst family members or rent a self-storage location for a few weeks.
Just make sure you don’t get too attached to the idea of value. It’s all too common for people to mistake sentimental value for financial value; marking an item up for a higher price because your loved ones loved it doesn’t mean you’ll get that price, after all.
You can also hire a professional appraiser to give you a good idea of what items you have to sell, how much they are worth, and what you can reasonably expect to get for them. Remember, online prices don’t always translate to local sales; after all, if someone wanted to pay that much for the items, they could do it online.
3: Sell on Consignment
Sometimes, you want to sell the items rather than donate them, but you don’t have the space or time to do it yourself. Don’t worry; it happens to everyone. The solution is a consignment shop.
Consignment shops, if you’ve never encountered them before, are basically thrift stores. They sell gently used and second-hand items. Rather than something like a resale charity, however, they sell on your behalf. You aren’t donating items to them; you’re handing over items for them to sell and getting a cut of whatever the sale price ends up being.
Consignment shops give you a bit more control and a bit more money for the valuables you need to be cleared out but don’t have the room to handle on your own. They’re better in terms of money in your pocket than simply donating items to charity. On the other hand, there’s no guarantee that the items will sell in a reasonable time (or at all), and you often have to pay a small fee to keep the item in the store to be sold.
There are dozens of consignment shops all over the Chicago area, so feel free to browse around and find one that suits your needs. Remember, different shops in different regions are likely to have a diverse clientele, other interests, and additional terms.
4: Give Away on Buy Nothing Groups
If you’re okay with donating items, but you want to make sure they go directly to people who can use them, and you don’t want to see them resold by some agency you may or may not trust, there’s always the local community option.
The “Buy Nothing Project” is a national initiative focused on building local community groups, often based on Facebook Groups and centered around specific neighborhoods. Usually, you can only join your neighborhood’s group, though some may allow you in if you’re nearby, or you may be able to talk to group admins and get special permission to use a group to give away items.
The concept is simple; you have items you need to get rid of and people near you that require them. So, you post the things you don’t need, and people chime in to say when they could use them. You pick someone and give the items away. Sometimes you can specify that they come to you, and sometimes you need to drop off the items, and it all depends on the people and the relationship you build with them.
Buy Nothing groups are about more than just giving away old junk, though. They’re about building a community, helping fill the needs of others with stuff you no longer need, and producing gratitude all around. That’s why you can’t use the groups to sell or trade; it’s all gifting, with no strings attached. It’s beautiful if your group is active!
5: Sell With the Property
Depending on the items you’re trying to get rid of, you may be able to leave them in the home. This primarily applies to furniture and fixtures, though some décor may be included as well – this generally applies if you’re going to sell the property and if the items you want to leave behind are in good condition.
A ratty old couch isn’t going to be an attractive selling point, but a relatively new set of furniture or some antique wooden furniture in good condition can be compelling to some people.
The property market is hot right now, with homes selling in record time and for record prices. Leaving some items in the house and selling them as part of the deal can be an excellent way to handle it. Just remember it mainly applies to things like furniture, not dishes, linens, or other household goods.
Of course, you shouldn’t do this if you really want to see the items in a good home. You have no guarantee that the new owners won’t simply do what you didn’t and donate everything.
6: Store and Sell Online
If you know the items in the home have value, but no one locally seems to be willing to pay for them, you can always try to sell them online. The tricky part is that, much like with consignment shops, online sales have no guarantee that they’ll sell quickly – or at all.
You have to use major platforms like eBay, and you have to price competitively to make sure you get enough interest. You also need to be willing and able to package and ship the items, which means it’s not a very good option if you’re trying to sell large, bulky items unless those items have a high value.
Depending on the items, you may be able to use specialty marketplaces as well or simply offload items on Craigslist. Etsy is fantastic for handmade or vintage items. Depending on the volume, you may be able to set up seller accounts on other marketplaces as well.
7: Sell to a Liquidation Company
There’s one more option you can use if you want to get at a little bit of money from the items but don’t particularly care how much or what happens to the things after you sell them. There are a number of agencies out there that work under liquidation rules.
An estate liquidation company will come in, do a rough appraisal of the items you’re looking to get rid of and make you an offer. That offer will be low, of course – likely pennies on the dollar – but it’s a single offer for everything, and it lets you clear out the property and move on with remodeling and selling it as necessary.
Some of these companies will also handle the initial estate sale for you if you don’t have the time to do it yourself (or if you’re too emotionally close to the situation to sell items objectively.) Some companies that perform these services in the Chicago area include North Shore Estate Sales, Diane Hudec, Decatique Studios, and Rivich Auction House. Just note that we don’t have any experience with or reviews of these groups; they’re just people we know of who do the deed for you.
8: Have Us Recycle It All
Estate sales can be challenging. You’re likely emotionally close to the situation, and it can be hard to go through or part with all of the items in a home. Yet, you need to; you can’t leave the house as-is collecting dust and wearing down. That’s where we come in.
At Junk Relief, we can clear out and haul away everything in the home, from top to bottom. Contrary to our name, we won’t treat it all as junk. We treat your loved ones’ property with respect and care, no matter the situation. Whether you need some furniture hauled away, a clear-out of a run-down property, or the careful removal of a hoarding situation, we can do it all. We’ve seen it all; trust us, you won’t scare us away.
Plus, we do everything we can to make sure as much as possible is recycled or returned to the community. We process and donate anything in good enough condition to be used, donate raw materials and reusable debris for resale, and recycle anything that can’t be salvaged.
All you need to do is reach out and contact us. You can do that through phone, email, text, website messaging, or filling out our form. With just a few pictures and some discussion, we can give you a quote to have everything hauled away, schedule a time to do it, and you’ll be free to have it handled and out of your hair ASAP. So, get in touch today and we’ll give you some options that make the most sense for you and the items you want to dispose of.