How much is your junk worth?

Here’s how to find out your junk’s value.

It’s spring cleaning time, and as you’re sorting through the clutter in your basement, attic, garage, and other storage spaces, you’re likely to come across plenty of interesting (and possibly valuable) pieces of junk.

While finding a map to the lost treasure of One-Eyed Willy (sneaking in a The Goonies reference) isn’t very likely, you may be lucky enough to discover one or more items that would be valuable to someone else. But, if what looks to be trash can turn out to be worth a big sum – or nothing at all – how do you decipher between the two?

Research, Research, Research

Hit the books, pound the keys, burn the midnight oil. Take the time to research your discovery to try and narrow down what it may be worth. You don’t even have to visit the library – with the limitlessness of the online sphere, there are plenty of resources right at your fingertips. Alternatively, pay a visit to the retailers, re-sellers, shops, and businesses that stock goods like your discovered items. Compare the prices they have them listed at to see what is reasonable and to get an idea of the market value.

From consignment stores and thrift shops to online sites like eBay and Craigslist, there are many places to choose from. If you’re in Canada, you can visit Kiijiji, while for those in the United States there is Backpage, and if you’re living in Australia there are places like Trading Post or Gumtree.

Find out what your item is priced at when used and when new, or what the cost is for the newest version of it. Consider the age and condition of your “junk”, which will impact its value. Also, consider whether it could be a rare or collectible find. Even if it’s unopened, it may be hard to get a price for your item, just by virtue of it already having been owned. Unless it’s a collectible (like dolls, vinyl, or silver), then having a perfectly packaged and unopened item could be to your benefit.


Seek Professional Help

Who better to ask than those in the know? Reach out to the experts who specialize in your type of goods, such as pawn brokers, museum curators, pickers, and collectors. If their life’s work or day-to-day dealings involves similar items, they may be willing to give you some advice or tips – especially if they’re on the lookout for such an item themselves!

The best way to know for sure what your “junk” is worth is to have it valued by a professional appraiser. Yes, it’s going to cost money to get a stamped, signed and approved valuation, but then you’ll have an official opinion and backup documentation to settle the matter. That can come in handy when insuring your goods, or selling them at (or close to) their actual value.

Here are some useful appraisal resources:

International Society of Appraisers
American Society of Appraisers
Appraisers Association of America

International Society of Appraisers Canada

Australian Society of Appraisers 

Emotional Value or Monetary Value?

It may not have any monetary value, but that doesn’t negate the emotional value of your “junk”. Be sure to keep those two separate, though. Just because you believe something has value, doesn’t mean other people will. Don’t expect someone to pay more for your old NSYNC CDs than what they are actually worth (unfortunately it’s not much, ’90s boy band fans). But perhaps, if it means that much to you, it doesn’t really matter what it’s worth, as it could still be priceless to you.

Should You Table It?

Once you’ve cleared all the clutter and you’ve sorted items by what you want to keep, donate, toss, and sell, what’s next? Well, you could call 1-800-GOT-JUNK? to help with numbers two and three, but if you’d rather sell your items it could be the perfect time for a yard sale. When pricing goods for your yard sale, it’s important to do so at a value that is reasonable and takes into consideration the condition, age, and rarity of the items up for sale, as well as how easy it would be to refurbish pieces like furniture if they are in a well-loved state.

Yard Sales

Offer competitive pricing – don’t price yourself out of the race, but don’t undervalue your items, either. Anything in new to gently-used condition can comfortably be marked at a higher price. If it’s an item that doesn’t have much value, but you’re keen to get rid of it, then you can greatly mark down the sale price.

Ask around to get opinions on what people would spend on your items. If your family and friends agree that your bookshelf is worth no more than $20, you should consider that price point. But be prepared to haggle and negotiate. Sometimes it pays to be flexible if it means you don’t miss out on the business of an interested shopper.

For tips on hosting a successful yard sale, read the helpful post here! 

Did you ever have an item that you thought would be worth a lot, but turned out to be worth nothing at all? What about something you thought wasn’t valuable but ended up being priceless?

Alana Free is a PR Manager for 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and sister companies You Move Me and WOW 1 DAY PAINTING. While seemingly a mild-mannered geek who believes that Goonies never say die, Alana is actually a member of a secret league of Australians slowly taking over North America. You can connect with her via LinkedIn.

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