Selling Stuff? Worth the Effort or Not?

So, in the never-ending fight to balance available space and future modelling, it seems you inevitably wind up with more stuff than you need or can use.  I see this from many out there.  In the past year or so, as my parents readied to downsize their house and move, I donated, sold, recycled and sadly garbaged a lot of stuff that no longer had a place in my life.  Old clothes, VHS tapes, DVD’s, books and magazines, furniture, and toys all made their way out.  We also have a regular rolling “Goodwill” or charity donation box in our apartment where my wife and I put things that we’ve determined we no longer need or want.  Something I firmly believe in is that the things i bought or acquired brought me happiness, and that I’d rather pay it forward by giving the things a chance to bring someone else happiness rather than send them to the dump, but there are inevitably limits to everything.  Everything Model Railroad related however, survived the purge.

For the stuff from my parent’s basement, some of it got turned into money (made a few hundred dollars on old movie, star wars and similar action figures selling to comic stores; CD’s/Movies to used stores; books to used book stores; Transformers toys at a recent convention with a friend who was liquidating his collection), but it’s nothing life altering.  For instance, the money I made at the Transformers Convention, after costs lets me buy a new Weller Soldering Station and have about the cost of that again left over.   Better than a kick in the teeth, but not world altering for a 13 hour day from leaving for the show, setup, the show, packing up and getting home.  At the end of the day, there is still some stuff in tubs in our locker, but it’s been downsized to a manageable collection that i can deal with in our annual storage locker clean-out at the apartment where we go through and try to be ruthless with things to give away or sell.

TFConSelling Transformers Robot Toys at TFCon 2016 in Mississauga, I tagged on my stuff being downsized with a friend clearing out their collection to turn them into money for model railroading!

So where am i going with this?  I’m curious if any of those who read my blog have ever braved buying a table at one of the various shows in southern Ontario to sell?  I’m considering getting a table at the Lakeshore Model Railroaders Flea Market in September or the next one in early 2017.  Another option is the TH&B Flea Markets in Ancaster in November and January, but I haven’t found any source for table costs, and the Lakeshore seems to be $40 for a table, which is probably manageable to at least ensure that in the worst case, i cover the cost of the table (and its much closer to home).

Part of my dilemma, is that I have eight tubs plus a full A-line tote of locomotives, freight cars, structures, scenery and all manner of model railroad stuff to sort through.  Some of it is “core” that I have no interest in getting rid of because it’s what i think i want to model, or has sentimental value.  Some of it is things I’d like to keep, but are realistically only display pieces (a lot of British models).  Some of it, are things that I’m unlikely to ever model and could potentially create value from (why did i buy 2 Rapido coaches in VIA Blue and an FP9A in Via Blue?  I have no interest in modelling the early 1980’s when i was between 2&6 years old!!).

IMGP0157RawConvThe trains from Georgetown packed up, there are two more (i think) of the same tubs that were already at the apartment, and another cardboard tray for the A-line tote full of equipment without boxes.

I don’t really “want” to sell anything, but there is a part of me that realizes that selling some stuff is the responsible decision to ease some pressure on our storage locker.  I don’t expect to get back what I paid, but deep inside there is a part of me going if I take a day, and sell stuff that may have cost $2,000, but wind up with $1,000 in cash in hand instead of having a pile of models I can’t display, run, or do anything with, am I better off?  But it’s tough to figure out what to part with, and how to fairly price it.  I have great visions of winding up selling the two Rapido Via Blue Coaches at say $50 each, and then not selling the FP9A which originally sold for around $225 for the non DCC version I have, and being stuck with a loco I’m trying to sell for $150 but no coaches for it anymore.  I’m torn as to whether doing a table at a show or making a list and circulating it to friends/online forums is a better approach.  I don’t really want to deal with having to mail stuff to people far afield, but I’m not sure a show would be effective, or if it would leave me with a parted out collection that is more of a pain in the long run.

Hopefully someone reading this has some insight/experience to help me point myself in the right direction with more knowledge than I have at present!

5 thoughts on “Selling Stuff? Worth the Effort or Not?

  1. About a year ago I bought a couple of Zimo sound decoders for a specific project that never took place. Today I sold them (unused, and still in their boxes) on a certain auction site for about 70% or their retail value.
    Yes, I was a schmuck, but only to myself insofar as I “lost out” financially, and I can use the monies raised for something else, train related, of course! (A brass ACF 3 dome S scale tank car, if anyone is interested.)

    I am also working my way through my magazine collections: it is surprising how many issues have little in them worth keeping. It is not worth selling these, once I factor in the time of going to a swap meet, or of putting them up for auction and then dealing with the shipping, etc. However, I have a friend who is interested in housing them, so they are being boxed up for when we next meet. A few reference articles will be photocopied, but a lot of what was useful and even revelatory to me many years ago are old-hat now: I have developed my own ideas, and some items which were then available are no longer made, and others have been replaced with things which are much better (motors, especially, but sadly the supply of gearboxes seems as erratic as it ever was). To me the “payment” is purely psychic, in that I will be delighted to have helped a fellow hobbyist who will have the chance to read some landmark articles published in the 70s that I didn’t get to read until 25 years later, and he may overcome his current worries about cutting, filing, drilling and soldering metal as much as it helped me dramatically increase my techniques and confidence in the same processes.

    In both cases, I am glad (a) to free up the space and (b) that the items will be used and enjoyed by someone else. To be honest, the money raised by the sale of the decoders was good but it was appropriate for that transaction, and worth the effort.

    The decision to sell, handover or simply trash an item can only be a personal judgement call, but you can weigh up the costs in terms of time and money, etc and balance them against the “income” generated, whether it be space, cash or simple goodwill.

    Hope that helps,


  2. Thanks Simon for the thoughts. I think we’re in a similar space. I passed on as much as possible to places where it can generate goodwill for others, even if that came in a combination with a bit of cash back.

    The more i’ve thought over the past couple of days, the more i’m leaning toward a targeted sale of certain parts of the collection, that i can hopefully sell in chunks to avoid dealing with packing up and going to a show and being dissappointed if it doesn’t sell. As much as anything, i think my post was a continuation of some of the other posts i’ve made recently about working with small spaces. The feeling of why do we have this if it lives in a tub in the basement of our apartment is a tough one to deal with and reconcile!


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