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Furniture That Never Ever Ever Ever Sells Online

By Lord Castleton | Think Pieces | April 27, 2018 |

By Lord Castleton | Think Pieces | April 27, 2018 |


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I buy and sell a lot of things online. While writing on the internet is full of glamour and elegance, it often requires that you generate a few extra streams of revenue to … y’know … survive.

So, on a fairly regular basis, I’ll sell things online.

And over the years, despite the ubiquity of technology, I’ve found that it’s actually more difficult to pull off. For example, in the good ol’ days, (read: Under Bill Clinton) I could clear around $1200 on a really good yard sale. These days, with comparably higher quality things to sell, I’m lucky if I get to $400.

There is no better indicator of the economy than yard sales and craigslist postings. I don’t care what the Dow Jones says. People are still hurting for cash, which is why they try to get something — anything — for their stuff. Any way they can.

There are a number of new apps vying to wedge themselves into this theoretically lucrative space, but I’ve had limited success with them as well. Most of them are predicated on being able to take a super-kick-ass photo. You get one photo. And if you nail that, you get views. Which in turn, lead to sales. Supposedly.

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Except they often don’t.

Buyers via apps are considerably more flaky than craigslist buyers. And that’s saying something. I’m pretty decent with a camera, price things at half mast out of the gate, and I’ve still only sold a few things here and there via apps.

(There are also Facebook yard sales, which seem to do well, but I’m not on Facebook anymore, so people can share their insight in the comments.)

No matter what your taste, no matter what your socioeconomic status or race or gender or sexual affiliation, there are some things that DO NOT SELL.

Period.

They are the great equalizers. They show us all how much false hope hurts, and how poorly we’ve spent our time and wages. Without further ado. The Hall of Fame of Shit Nobody Wants Online.

ENTERTAINMENT CENTERS

I’m shocked, truly shocked when I see people asking for money to part with these relics of a bygone era.

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Oh, Rich. Rich, Rich, Rich. You’re not going to get 30 bucks for that. You’re not going to get thirty cents for that. Is it a lovely testament to the Orpheus and Eurydice-esque marriage of veneer and glass? You betcha. But it’s not something that anyone wants anymore. Because TV’s don’t have tubes. And are rectangular.

But I’m not mad at Rich for trying. Who can’t use an extra thirty dollars? He even did the right thing and included precise measurements, which is a MUST if you’re serious about selling anything online. Because if you don’t, the very first question will be “how big is it?” And if you DO, like Rich did, the very first question will still be “how big is it?”

I’ve seen this disease before. Poor Rich (antonyms) will hold out hope for one full seven-day Craig’s List post cycle. And then he’ll think,

“Maybe I priced it too high.”

So he’ll knock it down to $20, knowing he’d take $15 if it was offered. And he’ll wait. And nothing will happen.

Because this is a pile of shit that no one wants.

So now Rich is like two weeks into this colossus getting in his way. He just wants it gone. But he still can’t fathom having to pay for it to be gone.

So he’ll do the laziest thing possible. He’ll drag that fucker out onto his lawn and leave it there.

I drove by this one last night. It’s been there a month.

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Mmmmm. Nothing gets me as randy as rain-destroyed pressboard. Damn, that’s hot. Maybe I’ll throw that in the back of my car and bring home a special present for the missus.

Or not.

This is people just dragging their troubles out in front of their house. I don’t know what this does from a Feng Shui perspective but I’d guess it’s the equivalent of having a bowl of rotting fruit on your kitchen table.

It’s not a solution. Forget the blight of subjecting your neighbors to this low-water-mark of household design. Never, ever be this person.

Instead, take a deep breath and repeat after me:

“No one did this to me. I did this. I paid hard-earned money for this at a time when everyone paid hard-earned money for this. But those days are gone and this factory-made atrocity of pre-Ford Administration style needs to go with them. We had some good times. We watched some funny episodes of, (I’m guessing) Barney Miller on this bad boy. But it’s time to give the kids a hammer and teach them about structural integrity. I don’t need to get money for this. I need to put it out of its misery.”

Second to Entertainment Centers?

HUTCHES.

My aunt: You guys want a beautiful old hutch?

Me: GET FUCKED.

Quit trying to give me hernia, Aunt Linda, you fucking Skeski.

Why? Because no one under fifty gives a rats fucking ass about displaying their fine china. Because they don’t have fine china. Because the economy sucks and people are still trying to sell entertainment centers.

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This is actually a lovely set.

For which the seller will receive ZERO — count ‘em — 0 offers.

$1100.00? American? Bitch, please. Your ass must be craaaaaazy.

Once upon a time, I understand, a hutch was the centerpiece of the dining room. The what? Oh the room with the MAIL TABLE. The table that has stacks and stacks and stacks of unwanted fucking paper on it. From an era before social media when people liked their children enough to ingest food near them.

Once upon a time, people used hutches as an answer to the question: “how on earth do I cover up that big wall?” But no longer.

DINING SETS.

…in general, go hand in hand with hutches. No one will pay for a huge eight-piece set with sideboard and hutch. If they pay for anything, it’s the sideboard under the glass hutch, so they can chalk paint that sonofabitch and maybe make a profit by selling it as a dresser. Maybe. If you have actual talent.

That doesn’t stop people from posting shit like this. (Which was surrounded by ads for brand new tables for less money, by the way).

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It MUST GO.

Sigh.

Sadly, it’s not going anywhere. And the additional ‘buffet’ is decidedly not a selling point.

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I’d bet dimes to dollars there’s not a dovetail in that thing. But even if there is, nobody born in the last half-century wants the storage joy of unlit, low cabinets.

Where’d I store those place settings? Oh, just a sec…let me kneel down here…and…were they back there under the Christmas tablecloth or the stack of kids’ artwork I never looked at again or maybe this jar of buttons? Just need to lean a little more. Back is…failing. Aaaaaaand I’m dead.

This is the definition of a non-sale. The good thing about limiting the ad to serious inquiries only is that they’ll be guaranteed to get zero inquiries. And so they’ve taken the time to post the ad with virtually no hope of selling.

That table design, that stain color? They scream last century. That’s a table you contemplate suicide at, not something you sit around joyfully. And it’s a shame, too, because that looks like what? Maple, probably? Maybe oak? And it’s a pedestal so no legs to get in the way on the corners. And the gauge of the spindles on those chairs is positively Rubenesque. This table probably weighs as much as a battleship. Someday, a hundred years from now, collectors will scour barn sales for tables like these. Built at a time when sturdiness and quality actually meant something.

But not now.

Now it’s worth zilch. You can barely give it away.

ARMOIRES

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Ahhh the classic armoire. From the days when people pretended not to watch television.

“My my my, what an amazing suburban living room! And no television in sight! These people must be urbane as fuuuuuuuck!”

Those days are gone. ‘Family rooms’ are now ‘TV rooms,’ dominated by a six-foot, opaque glass screen which blue lights us with enough joy to keep on keepin’ on. It’s got Hulu and Netflix NATIVE to the television. Gone is the fallacy that we’re sitting around as a family discussing the latest cover of the New Yorker and winking at each other over Highballs.

I don’t want to talk to you. I want to watch TV. Come at me, bro.

But the armoires remain. Sixteen feet tall. You have to rent a lull to dust on top of them. And they come in exactly one piece. Even the gargantuan hutches break down to two more manageable sizes. But not the armoire. It stands in glory like a wooden menhir. Look at that decorative flared top adding like nine inches to the width. You’re not getting that into your hatchback.

Armoires are great in the city if you have a shitty little apartment that’s really just a room your landlord shouldn’t be renting. But apartments like that are usually on the fifth floor of a walk-up and you can’t fit an armoire of this size up those ancient stairs from The Knick.

But if you happen to have EIGHTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS, this treasure of the American experience can be yours. Bonus: if you still have a tube television, you can hide it in here and still be able to reach the coaxial plug on the back because of the 24” x 24” square popped out of the cardboard backing. It’s a win win.

DESKS

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If you want that Restoration Hardware feel and don’t mind exploding your C7 vertebrae by huffing a four-foot block of lead down a third-floor walkup, HAVE I GOT A DEAL 4 U!

This is one of the classic mistakes:

“I paid a million pesos for this bucket of shit, so it’s gotta be worth half a million pesos! Amirite?”

No. It’s worth what the market says it’s worth. And that’s exactly jack and squat.

Is it cool that you wanted to adult like a motherfucker? Yeah, I suppose. You walked out of that Restoration Hardware like Subutai. Victorious. Bam! I want a big boy desk. Put it here, on my Mastercard. Antiqued coffee. With a D.

And now, a year later, realizing that the lease on this apartment has murdered you, you have to move back home to mom and dad. Surely you can sell this expensive desk that you still haven’t paid off? Right? Right?

Wrong.

Nobody wants desks. No one has white out or post-it notes anymore. And if they do they’re crammed in the low, unlit, shitty cabinets of the buffet they’re trying to get some sucker to carry out of their home. And no one has desks anymore. Now they’re called MAIL TABLES and they used to be where people eat. But now you have a power strip on the top of the mail table, with mom and dad on their laptops and maybe some of the kids too. And if your mouse doesn’t really work great on the high gloss surface, you just grab a manilla envelope off the mail pile and use that.

That’s why you can’t sell a desk. Not a real grownup one, anyway. There’s still a market for kid’s desks, but even those have transitioned from the standard desk cum drawers to little themed tables. And even then, all they do is hold the sixteen thousand drawings your kids do every day until it’s so piled up with artwork and extra mail that the kids don’t use it anyway.

Honorable Mention: PIANOS

There’s still some play in the world of pianos, but not much. There’s still a market for baby grand and grand pianos, and uprights if you have a top name brand like a Steinway. But if you have an old mid-century upright or spinet with a mid-grade name? You’ll get nothing.

Because someone has to pay to actually move the piano. Unlike the unwieldy, winged armoires that you and a buddy can muscle into the back of your pickup, leaving chips of the wood and dings in the wall plaster behind you, a piano is not something you can get on your own.

You need a mover that knows what he’s doing. So they don’t damage the soundboard.

And that costs money. So people will opt for the $500 piano with ‘free delivery’ from a local piano store over the question mark of giving you $600 for your used piano, and then having to pay between $300 and $500 to maybe, possibly get it into their house without anything going wrong. People can’t give these pianos away. And worse — you can’t put them on your lawn! Nobody wants a lawn piano! It’s the lowest species of piano!

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So people end up paying to get rid of them. Special piano movers will get $300-$500 to vanish this thing from your house. Then they drive it over to a local piano shop and sell it to them for like fifty bucks. And the whole cycle starts all over again.

So what to do? How to come to terms with all this furniture you don’t want and can’t sell?

First, make peace with it. Understand that it’s no longer the asset you thought it was. It’s an expense.

Then take the stuff in good shape and offer it up on Freecycle. That’s a really wonderful community of people who tend to be more reliable than your average bear. And if no one wants it there, you can offer items to artist’s collectives or your cousin who is getting an apartment at college for the first time.

If that fails, break it down as much as you can and get it the hell out of there. It’s not worth the time or aggravation to try to sell it. Get it out and gone as quickly as you can and be done with it. You’ll be doing yourself, and the world, a favor.





Follow Lord Castleton ​on​ ​Twitter


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Lord Castleton is a staff contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.


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