I have participated in the Gumtree* experience several times – bouts of advertisement for unwanted household goods and the subsequent responses. I have come to some conclusions:
a. Paid advertisement is fine if you can have any positive expectation of response. Household goods in a tough market do not provide this – therefore cheap or free advertisement is the wisest thing.
b. On-site advertisements, such as the garage sale posters, are pointless unless you live at the off ramp of the busiest street of the town. Otherwise no-one knows you have anything for sale.
c. Realistic pricing is the key to success. Allow for 10% haggling because there are people who would argue over the price of a new postage stamp with the Postmaster General.
d. You will meet time-wasters, chiselers, and tyre kickers. Hopefully all at once, so that you can set them upon each other. Otherwise just grip your underwear from the inside and usher them out.
e. You will also meet fair customers. Treat them fairly.
f. If you essay to sell something, ask yourself whether it is really worth buying. If not, bin it and regard the dignity that you save as your profit.
g. Regard everything that you do offer as merely trade goods – not mementos, dear possessions, or treasures. If the stuff was any of this, it would still be on your shelves. See it gone with the cheerfulness of a merchant – not the sadness of a collector.
h. Let no-one denigrate your goods. If they’ve come to see them, they are worth seeing.
i. Punctually update or remove old advertisements.
j. Deal only at the front of the house, and with the sound of hearty companionship heard from the back room.
k. No cheques. No promises. No PayPal or offers to transfer money on the mobile phone. Government money in hand. And count it.
l. ” Where did you get this? ” is a fair question…for a magistrate or police officer to ask. Answer them instantly and honestly. Everyone else must be contented with a smile and a blessing.
m. ” Can I bring it back if I don’t like it? ” is also a fair question, and you should give a polite answer. ” No ” is perfectly polite.
n. If something works, make it work before any money changes hands. If something doesn’t work, state that fact clearly in the hearing of witnesses. If it was never meant to work, make that perfectly clear to the buyer.
o. If there’s more than one person in a buying team, address yourself to one only – do all your dealings with that person. Do not let them split your attention.
If there are two or more buying teams, let them look at each other uneasily and offer higher prices. Do not declare the sale finished until you have actual money actually in your actual hand. And the hand has closed tightly.
p. Give gifts occasionally. You can shift a lot of appallingly awkward shit if you make a gift of it. Be kind and ruthless.
* Free local online selling site.