Garage Sale, Antique Mall or eBay?

I have always looked at the Garage Sale as a method of cleaning the house and not just throwing it away.  You know how you collect things over the years and suddenly you can’t find what you are looking for because all of the other “stuff “is in the way. 

 Treasures quickly turn into clutter and before you know it, they are making a TV show about you.

 All it takes is the loss of a loved one to quickly turn your well organized home into a place that the “pickers” would like to visit!  I get it, it is hard to go through a loved ones stuff and get rid of it.  That stuff is “part of them” and getting rid of something that they once cherished, or had; for one reason or another seems like treason or blasphemy.

The Antique Malls are full of these types of things.  You can be looking around the bins and shelves of “stuff” until you come across a box of pictures that were once treasured family air looms of a sort, sitting in a box waiting for someone to think they recognize them and bring them home.

The Antique Malls or resale shops are such places where stuff has accumulated, waiting to be recycled, re-purposed or thrown into the dumpster


eBay is the ultimate place for “stuff.”  There you will find anything and everything. If you should decide to become a seller, your audience will be into the millions of perspective buyers.

eBay has caused some confusion in this area and I wish to clear this up for a few folks.

The reason eBay works is that you have a world wide audience.  Whatever you place on there, the odds are good someone will want it.  If the price is right, it will sell quickly.


The eBay Conundrum.


While eBay is a great place to buy and sell, it can be a source of miss-information for those of us who sell at garage sales and of course Antique Malls or Flea Markets.

 I have found more and more people looking on eBay, researching what they have and then pricing it accordingly.  On eBay that is ok because, that is where your market is.

If you look on eBay and see that your widget sold for $40, and you price yours at that price in an Antique Mall or Flea Market of Garage sale, guess what, you probably won’t sell it.

What will the market bear?

I recently spent a day in the sleepy little town of Gladewater Texas.  The town appears to have little industry to speak of.  Not knowing much about the town, I would guess that tourism is a big deal for them.  They are known as the “Antique Capital of Texas.”  I did not know this before I stopped by. 

My trip through their town was only slightly deliberate as I had business in East Texas so instead of traveling out on I20, I decided to take the less traveled and slower route out Hwy80, which cuts through many small towns.

First let me say that the down side of this is that there are several stop signs, traffic lights and slower traffic to deal with and, the speed goes from as high as 70 to as low as 30.The local constabularies are sitting behind the 30mph with the radar working so, watch out for that.

The upside is that most of the small towns have lots of charm and worth a visit.  I found antique stores in most of the little towns.  It would appear that a lot of them are mom and pop stores and are trying to make a living by selling stuff.  These stores are places that were once some sort of industry or store, which the big box stores put out of business.

The rub is that many folks price their stuff too high.  They have gone on eBay or some other place and found what top dollar is, and ask it.

In each of these scenarios, the antique mall, Flea Market and of course eBay; who makes the money?  The proprietors of the establishments make the money.  Both the Antique Mall and the Flea market make money if your stuff sells or not.  The same is somewhat true of eBay, as they make money when you list, but they also get a percentage when you sell.

If you are a seller in one of the first two places you need to price the stuff so it will sell.  If you price it too high what you are doing, is this.  You are providing the inventory for the “store” which gives the customers something to look at and a reason to visit.  You are paying a monthly fee to “ market or display” your stuff there and in fact you may very well just be giving your stuff to the store owner, as you may not even sell enough to account for what one months rent is.

When a customer comes in and sees something at your “booth” it should be clearly labeled and priced for what the traffic will bear, and not what eBay buyers are paying.  You must move inventory to make a go at flea markets, of antique stores.  I would try and negotiate a variable rate for the “off season.”

Your stuff should not look cluttered and should be clearly visible.  You should visit your booth and “freshen” it up weekly.  Move stuff around, keep your items that you want to sell the most at eye-level.  Stuff on the ground or too high will be missed by a large percentage of the customers.

If you really think you have some treasure, than put it on eBay where you have a much larger customer base.

I am much too lazy to do any of this, so my hats off to you for doing it.  I take the clutter to some charity where they will unload it and give me a receipt for it, which I than save for the accountant.

Why is eBay so successful?

eBay has worked long and hard at making it easy for you to buy and sell stuff.  Unlike the Antique Mall or Flea Market you can shop in your pajamas, in the comfort of your own home, and sort by category, price and condition with little or no effort.

The Apps that they have created make is incredibly easy to buy and sell on your smart phone!

Those of us who make the effort to come to your garage sale, or drive to places like Gladewater, should be rewarded for the effort by finding trinkets and things at reasonable prices. 

I do a lot of research on particular items and I am here to tell you that some of the prices I found this weekend were higher there, than on eBay!

Economics people, like it, learn it and live it!

No blog mentioning Gladewater would be complete without mentioning the Fork!

The fork is a little restaurant close to downtown.  The Waitress, a lady by the name of Katrina was jovial, pleasant and made the visit much more satisfactory.   The food was better than I expected, which is saying something, because I am picky when it comes to food.

I am not sure how they stay in business, because the prices were “very reasonable!”  

I would also like to mention that the curators of these shops were great at what they do, and made me feel like I was at home.  There is charm in East Texas. These towns are an easy drive from Dallas or Forth Worth. 

I would like to hear about your “antiquing “experiences.  Are you too finding eBay has had some effect on things that you normally sell or buy?


Happy Antiquing and enjoy your trip through memory lane. 


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