Sell or Donate? Decisions, decisions…


Liz Jenkins

clothing at a thrift shop

You finally got around to cleaning out your attic storage, and you discovered some old furniture you think might have some value. You spent a weekend editing your wardrobe, and now you’re looking to make some money back on those designer pieces that still have tags attached.


But is it really worth it to try to try and sell these items? Before you start daydreaming about making some cash for your unwanted items, let’s take a closer look at what the process actually looks like.

Selling Items Yourself

books for sale at flea market

Whether you’re considering an online selling platform, participating in a consignment sale or having a yard sale, selling your items can have its appeal. Unfortunately, though, most of us tend to overestimate the value of our stuff and underestimate the time it will take us to sell it.

Long before you list your items for sale, do your research to determine what these items are truly worth. That grill that you bought brand new for $600? You may find out that you could get $50 for it, at best. Those designer shoes you bought four years ago for a pretty penny? It’s likely that someone would only pay a small fraction of what you bought them for. It’s easy to be biased about the value of things simply because you know how much you paid for them or because they’ve belonged to your family for a long time, but be realistic about your items and find out what kind of money they could actually make before you continue the process to sell them.

While your items could potentially turn a real profit, consider the costs to sell them—financial and otherwise. Some items are easy and hassle-free to sell, but some items require significant research and prep work. Maybe you’re considering selling your clothing items in a local consignment sale or hosting a yard sale. Before your items are ready to sell, you’ll need to ensure everything is clean, place each item on a hanger, assign a price to each item, use safety pins to attach tags to each clothing article, then pack up your items and deliver them to the sale location (or set up your sale in your own location). For a yard sale, weather is a factor plus managing the all day influx of buyers trying to get everything for a dollar. Yard sales can be fun, though, especially getting the kids involved!

If you plan to sell items online, the process involves taking photos, writing out listings, and coordinating logistics with potential buyers. Either way, that takes hours—or even days—of your time!

Selling Items at Brick-and-Mortar Consignment Stores

consignment store sidewalk display

If you’re not up for selling items yourself, consignment stores can be an option to sell high-end or big-ticket items. Designer apparel and accessories generally do well in these settings, but after a store take its share of profit, your gain may be small on these items. But these items are the easiest to sell because storage and transport are fairly easy and if you’ve got newer items in great condition – there is definitely an opportunity to get something back for them.

Furniture and nice decor items can sell well at a consignment shop, and some pieces could put a significant amount of money back into your pocket. But, consider the costs of this process (such as time and money to transport large items), and remember there’s no guarantee that your items will sell. In that case, you would have even more time and money invested in them, and you’d still be stuck with them back in your home in a few months.  

Be honest with yourself. You’ve already decided that you no longer want these items in your home. Is it worth it to give away more of your time, money, and sanity into this item for a potentially small (or nonexistent) profit?

Here’s the thing – if you love the process of selling and you have the time and space to make it happen – there can be some great benefits to it. In our experience, trying to sell items typically end up causing more stress than they are worth.

Donating Your Items to an Organization that Aligns with Your Values

clothing at a thrift store

If you’re not so sure that selling your items will be worth the time and effort, look at an alternative option—donating. No, you won’t get any money back from items that you longer want in your home, but you can give your items to a charitable organization that you care about.

Consider donating houseware items to a domestic violence shelter or give old blankets and towels to a nearby animal shelter. Perhaps there’s a thrift store in your area that employs individuals with special needs, such as Our Thrift Store in the Franklin, Tennessee area. If you find an organization that can truly benefit from your donation, you can be assured that someone else’s life is made better by the items you no longer need.Although you don’t make a direct profit from donating your items, you can claim a deduction for your donation on your taxes. The IRS has helpful guidelines for this process and for amounts of money you can deduct, or check with large organizations like Goodwill to see simplified instructions for donating items to a specific institution.

It’s Time to Make a Decision

If you’ve been agonizing over whether you should sell your items or donate them, it’s time to make a decision—soon. You’ve already lost money on your purchase of these items. Maybe it’s time to stop putting in even more time and money—only adding to your sunk costs—as you spend time trying to determine the best way to sell your items. Is your time and sanity worth the money you could recoup from selling your items?


At A Fresh Space, we understand that making decisions about the items in your home can be overwhelming. We’re here to help you clear the clutter and free up your time so you can get back to what matters most—enjoying your life and the spaces you live in. Contact us today to set up your consultation.