Resell that old baby stuff

A couple weeks ago, we had some friends over for dinner. Their younger son came, too, and our boys were charged with entertaining him while the grownups hung out doing grownup things. 

The guys rose to the challenge by digging through their bins and shelves for toys that a younger dude might be interested in. 

That turned out to be a pretty good plan. They came down with action figures, army men, Captain Underpants books and — the most well-received find of all — hundreds of Pokemón cards. 

Their guest was thrilled.

“You still have those?” I asked my son, picking up the cards I hadn’t seen in years.

“Guess so,” he said, shrugging. 

Who knew what else was up there? Not him, apparently — a thought that gave me pause. Living in a small Minneapolis house with virtually no closet space has taught me to abhor clutter while somehow living amidst it all the time. 

My wife and I have a simple plan for dealing with clutter: Donate. But seeing that kid’s joy at the old Pokemón cards got me thinking: A lot of this old stuff has some real value, if only we had the patience and desire to sell it.

Now, I’m not typically organized enough to hold a garage sale. Hence the donation strategy. Last fall, I helped my mom with a sale at her house, and it was miserable — cold wind blowing, crossing our fingers that somebody would come by and pay at least a fraction of what we were asking for these old Barry Manilow CDs, Christmas decorations, picture frames and pieces of grandma furniture. 

But if you’d like to get a little something back for your old kid stuff, a garage sale might be worth it. Alternatively, you can sell items on Craigslist or — to cast a wider net — eBay

(Need a place to make a safe Craigslist hand off? Some local police stations will allow you to use their lobbies.)

You can also try a store that will resell the items for you, like Once Upon a Child, or an online resale marketplace like Kidizen.

Finally, you could also become a consignor at one of the local kids consignment sales such as Just Between Friends and Munchkin Markets. These events, held many times per year, are massive and well-attended — and organizers are always looking for new consignors. 

You do have to give the sale a cut of your earnings, but you often have the choice of getting items back that don’t sell or letting the sale just donate the stuff for you when it’s all over. 

You might also check out some of the local garage-sale-style sites on Facebook, such as Twin Cities Parent Swap (more than 6,000 members), Twin Cities Mommies Market (more than 5,000 members) and Baby & Kids Only ReSale Group (more than 7,700 members).  Items you sell are typically picked up same day.

Here’s a short list of items that have enough resale value to make selling worth the hassle. You probably have a bunch of these piled up somewhere right now.

Kids’ clothes: Especially for babies and toddlers, which get outgrown quickly and therefore don’t wear out too much. Don’t forget outerwear like jackets, snow gear and boots.

LEGOs: Everyone loves LEGOs. Sell them loose by the binful or, even better, sell whole sets if you have all the pieces. Older sets such as Harry Potter can fetch a pretty penny. If you have the assembly booklets, you’ll make a lot more (and you’re a lot more organized than I am).

Other collectibles: This includes those Pokemón cards, action figures, dolls and stuffed animals. 

Big plastic toys: There’s always a market for play kitchens, play work benches, toy strollers, riding toys and activity gyms.

Building toys: Blocks, stacking rings and many more.

Books: Assuming they haven’t been too well-loved.

Games and puzzles: If you have all the pieces.

Costumes: Also dance clothes, shoes and bags.

Big baby gear: Pack-and-plays, swings, strollers, Burleys, bouncers, play centers, high chairs, boosters, baby carriers, walkers, gates, monitors and more. You might want to find out if any of that stuff has been recalled before you put it up for sale.

Nursery furniture: Bassinets, changing tables, rockers and gliders, cribs and cradles. 

When pricing your items, put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. If you wanted this item, how much would you be willing to shell out for it? 

Check similar items on eBay and Craigslist as well as other garage sales and flea markets to see what they’re selling for, and stay close to that range. 

A good rule of thumb is to look at what the item sells for new, and price yours at about 10 to 20 percent of that (depending on the condition and demand). For certain in-demand items like bike strollers you can get a little more.

Give yourself some room to bargain, too. Many people expect to haggle a bit. If you’ll take $20 for your old Wii, mark it at $28. It’s important to know your purpose. Are you trying to make some serious money, or do you mainly want to get rid of stuff? If it’s the latter, price it that way — and prepare to be flexible.


Eric Braun is a Minneapolis-based writer, editor and dad of two boys. Send comments or questions to ebraun@mnparent.com.