WHEN I QUIT MY full-time job as the assistant director of a social service agency in 2004, I had no Plan B.
I also had no savings account and no financial cushion whatsoever in my checking account. I had no credit cards and I had a monthly rent in the quadruple digits.
In other words, I was in deep shit.
Between looking for my next job and having occasional freak-outs, I took inventory of my possessions and decided it was time to lighten my load. Here’s the breakdown of what I off-loaded where, and what you need to know about selling stuff quickly in New York City.
Hardcover and soft cover books in good condition
The Strand – Broadway & 12th Street, Manhattan – 212-473-1452
To sell books to The Strand, show up with your bag, box, or cart of books and join the line that forms outside the store on 12th Street. An employee will come outside and take sellers in one by one to present their books to one of two assessors, both of whom have a permanent expression of boredom and exasperation. They’ll tell you what your books are worth, and you can either agree and walk away with cash (after signing a receipt), or disagree and take your books back home with you.
Prices vary greatly, depending not only on condition, but also on the current demand for a particular book. Be sure to check the website for more particulars, such as hours and the types of books they’ll consider.
Silver flatware and silver service pieces
The Manhattan Art and Antiques Center – 1050 Second Avenue at 56th Street, Manhattan – 212-355-4400
I know not everyone has a set of silver lying around, but if you do and you want to sell it, The Manhattan Art and Antiques Center is the place to do so. The Center is a complex housing individual galleries, each of which specializes in different periods, genres, and materials.
Scout the place out before you go to sell: step into a few of the shops, pick up some business cards, and ask about each shop’s buying policies. You should also ask what they’re looking for and what they’re not looking for. You don’t want to make your return trip with goods the buyer doesn’t want to take off you.
CDs and DVDs
Academy Records & CDs – 12 West 18th Street, Manhattan – 212-242-3000
Some people do still buy CDs and DVDs, and Academy Records & CDs caters to them. It’s one of the few businesses I’ve seen get near universal positive reviews on Yelp. Academy will also buy your used CDs, LPs, and DVDs as long as they are in good condition. As with anything else used that you want to sell, the amount of cash you take home depends on how many items you’re selling and whether they’re being sought. Employees will be happy to do an in-store appraisal.
Electronics – especially mobile devices
CeX – Various locations in Manhattan and Queens
I’ve cleaned out my old electronics drawer and sold old cell phones to CeX. Obviously, newer devices in perfect or near-perfect condition are going to net you more cash, but when you need $10, you need $10. Besides, that old flip phone is just taking up space.
You can get an estimate online, or show up at CEX and present your item(s) for evaluation. Once you agree to the price, you can elect for cash or store credit.
Gold or silver jewelry
EZ Pawn – Various locations
You can pawn your jewelry and be in hock, or you can sell it, pocket the cash, and be done with it. EZ Pawn is open 24 hours, so is a solid option if you’re ever in a bind for cash late at night. They buy other goods, too, including cameras and electronics, and you can get an online estimate before showing up.
My first post-cubicle gig was working part-time as a personal assistant for a psychoanalyst who liked to give me tickets to Broadway shows every once in a while. If the show didn’t interest me—or if I was totally broke—I’d sell the tickets on Craigslist. Just go to the tickets section and post the number and type of tickets you have for sale. Don’t give in to the temptation to mark the price up: you can only sell the tickets at face value.