Business & Real Estate

On the Market: What/where to sell and donate when downsizing

Megan V. Winslow/Los Altos Town Crier
Relocating to a new home presents a great opportunity to whittle down belongings.

Many home sellers these days either grew up in households that remembered the Depression or were a product of the “more-is-better” generation of collectors. Many of today’s smaller homes or condos don’t have much storage space. Younger families are looking more for experiences rather than things.

For sellers, the conversations often turn to: What do we do with the exercise equipment we don’t use? Aunt Mable’s old piano? Those old board games? The record collection? The books collecting dust on the shelves? The china we no longer use that the kids don’t want?

Believe it or not, it has actually gotten harder to get rid of things you no longer want around the house. COVID-19 has restricted the places that will accept donations, and the reality is often that no one really wants that stuff anymore.

But there are still a few options.

Q: I think my things are actually worth something. Where can I sell them?

A: You’re probably right, but how much work you are willing to put into selling them will determine how much you will get in return. Here are a few options: eBay, Craigslist and Nextdoor require you to take photos and either meet with or ship the items to buyers. Facebook Marketplace is new to the market, as is For women’s clothes, try thredUp or The RealReal. resells items such as fine china, crystal, silver and collectibles, but typically pays you a wholesale price and you need to ship the items to them. Locally, Kuzak’s Closet ( offers a paid service that can help.

Q: What if I don’t need to make any money? I just hate to throw things away. What can I do?

A: This is often the best solution, and my suggestion is to start with those closest to you and then expand your net into larger and larger circles until everything has been given away. Start by asking your family, extended family, neighbors and friends. If that doesn’t work, think about people who might have college-age kids or someone starting a family. If you have a gardener, housecleaner or barber/hairdresser, maybe they will need something, or know someone who does.

Q: I’ve asked everyone I know and no one wants anything. Now what?

A: There are a number of places to try. Following are a few suggestions.

• For books, nearly every library has a drop-off for donations. Some will even take sheet music, CDs and videos.

• The Ecumenical Hunger Program in East Palo Alto ( takes most anything. The nonprofit organization even has a pickup service for some items.
• PARCA, which serves people with developmental disabilities, has a route driver who will pick up certain items. Visit for details.
• Other options include Goodwill, the Salvation Army and the Mountain View-based Hope’s Corner (

Q: I’ve tried everything and am having no luck. Now what?

A: Sometimes, a simple “Free” sign taped to your items at the end of your driveway works, but don’t leave them out too long and create an eyesore for neighbors. Most garbage service companies provide two free curbside pickups a year. Reach out to them for details.

Owen Halliday is a longtime Los Altos resident and manager of the Sereno office in downtown Los Altos. Email comments, questions and potential column topics to [email protected] For more information, call 492-0062.

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