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It sure is easier to buy than to sell, isn't it? Selling can require some finesse. I'd be interested to hear what has worked for others. Here is a quick look at things I think I think about selling my stuff...

Maybe this has been discussed in other threads but be sure to consider HOW you are approaching the sale:

Firstly, in my extensive experience, fixed price sells faster than an auction. Try it.

Next, shipping cost puts off many buyers. Add it to your price, give them a discount on the total and say FREE SHIPPING. Buyers like FREE even though in their heart they know the truth.

Next, package like items together so that one shipping cost pays for several items. So the Menards UFO scene goes with the Lionel missile car and lionel target launcher. And so on and so forth. Be creative about grouping things together.

Finally, be patient. Keep the listing running for MONTHS if need be, lowering the price slightly or changing things up with different groups of items and so on. It's a rare listing that won't sell eventually.

A useful formula: eBay Fees + Paypal Fees + Shipping Cost = No Profit. Try OGR and other local club sales and get out of the box if at all possible.

Remember, Brazil sold an AIRCRAFT CARRIER on eBay. They said they lost millions on the sale, but it DID sell! Never say die! (that was before eBay's ban on ordnance sales. When they listed a second carrier a few years later, eBay pulled the listing.).

Don Merz

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I've always wanted my own aircraft carrier. 

I agree from my dozen or so sales here on the forum that just including the shipping price in the total sale price would be helpful.  I have been quoting a price based on experience and always ended up a few dollars short which I didn't worry about.  It's just easier.  Moving forward I will just post a price with shipping included. 

Agreed.   If I see a grouping of things together (except for a set of generic box cars),  I won't even consider it.  Why pay even $1.00 for something you don't want?   It also creates the impression that the Seller is trying to either "upsell" you, or dump unsellable or unpopular items on you.

I think the majority of folks want to creatively invent their own groupings on their layout.


Next, shipping cost puts off many buyers. Add it to your price, give them a discount on the total and say FREE SHIPPING. Buyers like FREE even though in their heart they know the truth.

The problem with offering free shipping on anything heavy is the shipping costs vary widely based on the destination.  A steam locomotive that weighs in at around 20# costs around $20 shipped on the East coast to a nearby state, and more like $70 shipped to California!  If I kick the price $70, I lose a lot of nearby sales.  If I kick the price by $20, I end up offering it at a big discount.

Selling is primarily about price. Over the last 5 years I was able to sell all of my Z,N,HO,S, & unwanted O  gauge trains either here, at a show, or on the big auction site within less than a week of listing them by following one of two simple rules:

1) Price it fairly which is usually 10% - 20% less than comparable sold prices I can find listed elsewhere. This rule I apply to only to hard to find pristine items.

2) Otherwise I price it at a price I would be willing to pay for it either at a show or online (including shipping); and FYI, I am notoriously frugal, or as a dear old Scotch friend used to say, "It's easier to save than it is to earn". Within the last month I sold all my standard gauge track & switches at a show before i was able to get it all displayed - it was priced right.

After all, remember we are selling it because we no longer want or have a use for it. Trains are a hobby, ie expenditure and not an investment. If we golf as a hobby and a downpour makes the course unplayable after the 15th hole do we ask for our green fees back? If we ski as a hobby and sprain an ankle midday and can no longer ski the remainder of the day, do we ask for a refund on our lift ticket?

Last edited by modeltrainsparts

Good Topic Don! Great tips.

I would add some suggestions for people listing items for sale on the forum:

1. Include photos. So many listings do not, and many of these listings return with reduced pricing, yet still no picture.

2. Proof read your listing. Common mistakes include not listing a price, misspelled words (yes, even though this site has auto-correction and grammar checking), and not indicating the basics - shipping, and preferred payment method.

3. Include photos.

4. Try to refrain from setting conditions of the transaction as the lead paragraph of your listing. Bold and italic text may indicate something important to you, but it could distract from the intention of the message to the browsing buyer, which is for them to buy your trains, etc.

5. Include photos.

6. Try keeping the listing to six items or less. Smaller posts (of course with photos) showcase the items more effectively.

The forum is a great place to sell and buy stuff. The For Sale or Trade section is checked often. I’ve had nothing but great experiences.


Last edited by John E K

If using PayPal or other payment processors, understand how they work, any applicable hold times, and abide by their TOS/User Agreement (ie. Don't ask for F&F for forum sales - "You must not use the “send money to a friend or family member” feature in your PayPal account when you are paying for goods or services." This can cost you and the other party a $2500 PayPal fine and invite further investigations) - simply add the 2.9% + 30¢ or ask the buyer to cover the fees in that amount. Also, don't mess with the tax man, but don't fear them either for low volumes.

Last edited by bmoran4

Great suggestions.  I will continue to sell online, but from now on (thank you) my desired price will be combined with shipping and I will always provide photos.  In this forum I see items For Sale, or Wanted, and the only identification is a road name or a manufacturer ID number, and I have no idea what the items looks like, whether I have it or want it.  And also from this thread, I will remember that the objective is to remove the item from my household, to make room for more or otherwise share my treasures and not to seek profits.  If my pure chance I was to profit, I will self-forgive.  Thanks again for the suggestions, good stuff.

Modeltrainsparts has the exact philosophy that I do when it comes to selling.

If you are going to sell it, then sell it.  Don't play around with it.

In my other hobby, I see some old guys hauling the same stuff over and over to 3 or 4 shows, instead of pricing it 5 to 10 % below a reasonable price.

I have come to think that most of the folks like this just like going to shows and sitting around all day talking to people, and that the stuff on their table is just window dressing.  If some sucker comes along once in a while and pays too much,  then they feel like they've made a big score.


When I was offloading a bunch of stuff on the Bay some years back, here's what worked for me: 

1) $1.00 opening bid.  Shipping separate; a lot of buyers just look at the bid amount going and bid accordingly. 

2) No reserve.  As mentioned above, this is an expenditure, not an investment.  Your objective is to get the stuff relocated to someone ELSE's table/shelf/basement. 

3) For maximum return, a ten day auction.  Time the start for Thursday evening around 10 PM Pacific time.   The auction will end on the second Sunday night at 10 Pacific time, catching bored Left Coasters wishing to do some last minute buying. 



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