Selling – not getting ripped off

Dear Dave,

In your books and on the radio you advise people to sell stuff. Could you please elaborate on the “dos” and “don’ts” of selling stuff?

How do you avoid getting ripped off, especially with some of the high-end items such as antiques, jewelry, etc.? How do you find buyers for these items, and how do you get the upper hand when the buyer thinks you are selling these items because you really need the money?

Thanks for your advice.


Atlanta, Ga.

Dear Laura,

The first thing is that you do not play all of your cards face up where they would have any indication that you really need the money. You are simply selling the item because you would rather have the money than the item.

You have to let them know that you will keep the item, whatever it is, if you don’t get enough money for it. So you have to know in your own mind what the amount is that you are willing to take for it before you start negotiating.

You are telling them you don’t really need the money – you would rather have the money than the old antique chest, for example. You know that the chest is worth a certain amount, based on a few sources. Get the item appraised first so you can show the buyer what it is actually worth.

Come to the table armed with information. That will always put you in a better position for the negotiation itself. That is one good way to avoid getting ripped off.

As far as how to sell, it depends on the item. If you want to wholesale it, there are certainly dealers in your area who would be willing to buy your antiques or jewelry for resale. They will want to make a profit on the item, however, so you will have to sell it at or below the actual wholesale price in this case. You can always do classified ads or sell your items on the Internet, of course, depending on what the item is.

As far as negotiating goes, the one with the most information and patience during the negotiation wins.


Marketing tips for a start up business

Dear Dave,

My husband and I took some money out of savings to start up a business. We kind of got the idea for the business from you.

You’re always telling people to buy used cars instead of new ones, so we are in the business of fixing old cars to make them look nicer. If there is a rip in the seat, the dashboard is messed up or if the car has some scratches or dents on it, we’ll fix it. It is much cheaper than buying a new car.

My question is how do we go about marketing this business without it costing us an arm and a leg?


Louisville, Ky.

Dear Lisa

The first thing I would do is go out and get the book, “Guerilla Marketing” by Jay Levinson. The book is full of ideas that require you to sweat, but not to spend a lot of money. It will challenge you to think about who your potential customers are, and what are the ways in which you can get to them.

What you are doing is a little bit unusual, so you may want to see if your local paper will do a feature article on what you are doing. It is out of the ordinary, so it is newsworthy, and this will introduce more people to what you are doing as well. That is publicity.

When thinking about who your customer is, also think about where they hang out. You can put fliers on car windows if you do it legally, but don’t go to a parking lot that is full of new BMWs and Jaguars. They are not your target market.

Think about what income-area of town you want to have a presence in. Think about new ways, unconventional ways to get the word out. Maybe a guy at the local car wash would be willing to hand out fliers if you offer to buy his lunch when he sends business your way.

Think of ways to get in front of your potential customers for free so you are not spending a boatload of money in advertising. You don’t need a billboard or a TV spot yet. When it works, it is called advertising – when it doesn’t, it is called overhead.

Get the word out wherever you can. You are going to have to pound the pavement on this one, but you’ve got a good business idea and with the right amount of elbow grease, you will find success.



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