Diane Roberts always tries to do the right thing. So when she was upgrading the home office for her broadcast and communications business, she tried to donate her unneeded furniture to people in need. But "so many places have a lot of rules," Roberts said. "Who knew?"
Roberts's pieces were white, and several charities she contacted wouldn't accept white furniture. Some charities had a minimum number of pieces they would pick up, and others a maximum. Roberts's number fell right in between.
So she reluctantly set about selling her furniture instead. She sold some pieces through Craigslist and others to neighbors in her apartment building. "In the end, I got a little cash to put toward my new furniture," Roberts said. "I was hoping it would be easy. But to sell something, you really need to put time into it."
Could it have been easier? And could she have made more?
Several new players have cropped up in the furniture resale game — some have already come and gone — to try to make the power of the Internet work for used furniture. Of course, Craigslist and eBay are the classics. The challenge with those sites is that your cherry chest or tweed couch can get lost among cherry pitters and tweed coats. Plus, people shopping on Craigslist are often bargain hunters. The newer furniture-specific sites may attract buyers motivated to pay more for nice pieces.
The new sites are also trying to distinguish themselves by offering expert help. For example, EBTH, which stands for "Everything But the House," functions much like a full-service estate sale company, sending employees to your home to organize, catalogue and put a value on your items, including furniture. "Our trained experts examine pieces to assess their value and determine authenticity," said Andy Nielsen, chief executive of EBTH. "As a result, we often uncover hidden gems." For example, the site has listed furniture such as a Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams sofa, an antique mission brass bed and a Herman Miller Eames chair.
Following are several sites that facilitate furniture sales with various levels of service. I have included only sites that have favorable ratings and/or no complaints with the Better Business Bureau. However, companies' reputations change over time, so be sure to check them out yourself before you do business with them.
Apartment Therapy is a website with articles and photos that provide inspiration for decorating your apartment. Earlier this year, the site bought a furniture resale website called Krrb and renamed it the Apartment Therapy Marketplace. You create your own store on the marketplace to sell furniture to Apartment Therapy's audience. You can specify whether you want to show your furniture to a local or global audience, depending on where you're willing to ship.
Best for: Stylish furniture that would appeal to apartment-dwellers.
Fees: Apartment Therapy does not charge a listing fee or commission, but you can buy credits for $5 to $400 to move your listings higher in the queue so they're more likely to be seen.
You submit photos and descriptions of your items to Chairish, and the site either accepts or rejects them within 24 hours. This curated approach keeps the merchandise upscale and the customers interested. Chairish also edits your photos and descriptions to help your furniture sell. The site offers multiple nationwide shipping options, or purchasers can arrange to pick up items locally.
Best for: Nicer designer furniture.
Fees: 3 percent to 20 percent of the selling price.
EBTH provides its full-scale estate sale service in 22 markets across the country. That service includes inspecting, pricing, photographing and cataloguing your furnishings. Customers across the continental United States can submit smaller items via mail. EBTH breaks its furniture category into 15 subcategories to help buyers find your items.
Best for: Getting expert help/selling many items at once.
Fees: 40 percent of the selling price for estate sale service; 15 to 50 percent for consignment service.
There are two ways to use Facebook to sell furniture. One is the company's Facebook Marketplace tool, launched in 2016, which allows you to see items listed for sale by people near you. The other method is to type the name of your metropolitan area and "garage sale" or "yard sale" into the Facebook search box. This brings up Facebook groups created by users. For example, there's one for the District with nearly 10,000 members. This method is less anonymous than Craigslist but has none of the buyer/seller protections of eBay.
Best for: Checking out customers before they come to your house.
This luxury consignment website has a robust "art and home" section featuring mostly designer furniture brands. The RealReal is known for authenticating merchandise before selling it, so customers feel comfortable. The site photographs and prices your items for you. For furniture, the RealReal asks you to email photos. If your item is approved, the company arranges and pays for freight shipping to its warehouse and then on to the customer. The RealReal has an international customer base and will ship to many countries.
Best for: Designer furnishings.
Fees: 30 to 50 percent of the selling price.
This website is for designer brands only. Don't try to pawn off your Ikea or Pottery Barn stuff here. Viyet deals in furniture with a resale value of at least $1,000 and will send a curator to your home to evaluate the furniture you want to sell. You can keep the furniture in your home until it sells, or pay a moving and storage fee to keep it in Viyet's warehouse. You approve the price range, and Viyet may discount your furniture within that range to help it sell. Buyers are encouraged to make an offer, which you can accept, counter or reject. Buyers pay for shipping.
Best for: Designer, vintage and antique furniture.
Fees : 50 percent of the selling price if you sell 20 or fewer items; 40 percent if you sell 21 or more.