When you write about sex, people send you sex toys. Seriously. Even if you don’t ask for them (YMMV on that). I know I started receiving them before I knew to ask for them and kept receiving them after I stopped asking but I’m not sure that’s true for everyone. I know I went thought the “OMG people are sending me things! Sex toys are fun send me ALL THE THINGS!” phase which slowly morphed into “I like this kind of thing, maybe just send me that” before finally arriving at “I don’t really want to have to write about this so maybe don’t send me stuff?” and that has resulted in my house containing A LOT of toys. I’ve written about how they kind of became decor and how, on any given day, my house could double for a sex toy pop-up. For years I looked at the sheer amount of sex toys my house contained and thought “damn would I lave to have money for those” but I always assumed selling the toys would be difficult or impossible and would probably make people yell at me (tbh, that is my fear in most situations).
Then it was 2020. My income dropped, I had to fight with Oregon for MONTHS to get any unemployment benefits (I’ve now received about 2/3 of what I should have), and I decided that I want to move back across the country in the spring (hide your sons, NYC-area, I’m coming home!) and suddenly the potential benefits of getting rid of a ton of stuff and making some money off it outweighed the risks by far. So (after spreading the set up out over MONTHS) I launched JoEllen’s Big Sexy Yard Sale and sold a BUNCH of stuff!
My sale went better than I ever imagined it would. I sold almost everything, got to see people get excited that they could finally score a toy (or several toys) that they have wanted for ages and I took in enough money to cover my rent and bills with some leftover for Christmas shopping.
Here are the stats for my sale:
- 33 sales
- 72 items
- 32 packages mailed (someone down the street from me bought stuff and I dropped it off myself)
- Shipping fees collected: $224
- Shipping fees paid: $259.87 (Yeah, I undercharged for shipping. More on that later)
- Paypal fees paid: $49.83
- Total net income (Gross minus shipping, Paypal fees, and refunds): $1812.47
It worked out really well and, for me, felt worthwhile. Then, in the last month or so I kept getting tagged on Twitter posts where people were wondering about selling their sex toys so it felt like it might be helpful to talk about this.
So, here it is, my big break down of all things “sex toy yard sale” related. Keep in mind, a lot of this stuff is just what happened to work for me. There are probably a lot of ways to do a sale like this successfully; don’t feel limited by my suggestions.
What can you sell?
When it comes down to it, you can really sell anything folks are interested in! That said, especially when it comes to sex toys it makes sense to sell things made of nonporous materials (silicone, steel, wood, glass, ceramic) that can be sanitized. I washed all of my toys and ran them through my UVee before selling them.
Additionally, I sold a Liberator cushion (I washed the cover first) and a bunch of sealed lubes and massage oils.
Before I launched my sale I matched toys up with their accessories, tested the motorized ones, and packed everything up in one place (I used a suitcase because my apartment is small). If you are more organized than me, this part will be easy but if you are like me, you may end up having to dig out chargers and manuals (if you still have them). Part of why my sale happened in waves was that I had to get a bunch of stuff out of my house just to be able to locate the chargers for some of the other toys. In the end I held 2 toys back from the sale because I couldn’t find chargers and had to issue one refund because an item didn’t work when it arrived (it worked when I tested it but it was an old item and it not surviving the trip seems more than feasible). All in all, not bad.
As I was taking stock I used Ziploc bags to stay organized. Each toy and charger went into a bag along with the manual and storage bag (if I had those) and any swag I thought would be fun to send with that toy (I unloaded a bunch of stickers and buttons in this process). Now, it’s not necessary to do the whole baggie thing but I will say that, once the sale got going, it was so convenient to just collect up the baggies of items when orders were placed.
How much is a secondhand toy worth? Short answer: as much as people are willing to pay. Longer answer: it’s complicated and depends on a bunch of factors including your audience, the quality of the toy, how “used” it actually is, and more. I actually set up my entire sale and set all of the prices based on a conversation I had with my mother where she was AGHAST at the idea of me selling things for less than 50% off their retail price and then I went in the night before the sale went public and lowered a whole bunch of prices, especially on the higher end items. I’m not sure if that was actually necessary but it made me feel better about things especially in the middle of a pandemic.
Also, people love discounts. I set up my sale to give an automatic 10% off to people who spent over $100 and that seemed to encourage folks who were considering larger orders.
Setting Up Your Sale
There are a lot of ways you can do this. I’ve seen people post lists with instructions to email them your order, I’ve seen folks use Google Docs to allow shoppers to go in and claim stuff, I know there is a reddit board where people can post that they are selling things, and I’ve even seen folks forgo a “sale” post or page entirely and just announce each item they are selling on Twitter. I wanted a bit more of an automated process that I could control for my sale so I used a shopping cart plugin called WP Estore. Please note, that is a paid plugin. I bought it for $50 a couple of years back when I started selling my sponsorship class and all the stuff that goes with it because I liked its capabilities for digital items and I liked how pretty the item listings looked. Here’s an example:
FemmeFunn Diamond Wand (TOY AND CHARGER ONLY)
Conjured to charm your body, this versatile piece will make your wildest fantasies a reality. Its textured body and pointed tip offers maximum pleasure with 21 powerful vibration modes and g-spot stimulation.
21 powerful vibration modes |
Memory function |
Small, Lightweight, Compact |
100% Waterproof |
100% premium quality silicone |
Whisper Quiet |
There are a bunch of plugins that do this sort of thing including some great free options and, of course, you are free to come up with your own system to handle the whole thing but if you want something polished and automated with the ability to add coupon codes and stuff, plugins are where it’s at.
One of my strengths (and, frankly, weaknesses) is my constant awareness of the questions folks are going to come at me with during any given project. It came in handy during my sale as I set up a “stuff you should know” section on my sale page. This worked out great as folks were left with almost no questions and I didn’t have to spend time fielding a bunch of emails.
You are going to need boxes and padded envelopes. Lots of them. No, more than that. Seriously. During my sale, small boxes became like gold to me. I live in a large apartment building with a communal recycling area and I definitely went down there and rescued some small sturdy boxes when I ran out. I needed a lot of boxes.
You will also need packing tape and packing materials to keep things safe. I used a lot of cheap white tissue paper because I liked that it allowed me to wrap things up like gifts AND keep them safe and cushioned in the boxes.
TIP: If you are selling anything large and soft — like the Liberator toy mount I sold — a Space Bag or the off-brand version I used can be a life-saver. These heavy duty bags allow you to vacuum seal your item, sucking out all the air (either with a vacuum or hand pump), and leaving you with a much smaller item to mail.
Charging for Shipping (and Handling)
One of the neat features I found in my shopping cart plugin was the ability to set up a shipping system where the first item shipped for $5 and every item after that was an additional $2. It worked beautifully. That said, I undercharged for shipping and ended up spending some profits to get stuff mailed out and cover the Paypal fees (I now understand why they call it “shipping & handling”). If I had it to do again, I would have done a higher cost on the first item.
Be clear about where you are and are not willing to ship to. Really clear. Like maybe excessively clear. I limited my sale to the continental US and stated that explicitly but the first big order I received was still from Canada. The led to me adding multiple mentions of my shipping restrictions throughout the sale page.
Managing Shipping Expectations
In an “Amazon two-day shipping” world, folks come to expect online purchase FAST. I decided to tell them up-front that, in my sale, it might not happen. On my sale page I warned people that I would be shipping items out about once a week. In actuality what happened was that when I was home I shipped things out ASAP but when I was at my partner’s house (we made ourselves a “pod” early on in COVID life and he lives somewhere rural that allows for avoiding other folks a lot more than my place in PDX) packages wouldn’t go out until I got home which was sometimes 5 days after they were purchased. I advise giving folks a similar heads up if only to grant yourself the time and space to handle shipping stuff without stress.
How to Avoid the Post Office
I am extremely proud of the fact that I had my whole sale and sent out over 30 packages without ever going to the post office, so let’s talk about how you can do that too!
Now, you can, of course, pack up your boxes and head to the post office. However, if you would like to do as I did and send out your packages from home (for COVID safety or just because you don’t like the post office) you totally can! To do that you will need a scale (I used a food scale), a measuring tape, and a printer. With those things on hand you can buy your postage on Paypal (convenient if you are already taking payments there), USPS.com or, my personal favorite Pirate Ship. I used a mixture of services. I took me a little while to realize that, for heavier packages, I was paying the same or more on Paypal for slow services as I could on Pirate Ship for Priority service. For items 16oz and under I bought postage via Paypal, when things were bigger or heavier, I switched over to Pirate Ship for discounted Priority postage.
Once I packed things up, weighed them, measured them, and paid for and printed the postage, I would head over here to schedule a package pick up during my building’s normal mail delivery. You can schedule via Pirate Ship but I found that always resulted in me getting a scary notice about the package not being in the lobby when they came to get it (I don’t know why, the packages always got picked up) so I stick to the USPS page for this.
Your Sale is Live, Now What?
Once the sale gets going, it really becomes more about the shipping stuff but there’s one thing I wish I thought of when my sale went live: delete items from the sale page as they sell. I didn’t do this and by the end of day one I was getting a bunch of complaints about how it was now (and I quote) “mocking me with things I can’t buy”. I think folks actually got a bit overwhelmed by seeing a bunch of stuff labelled “Sold Out” and in their frustration walked away entirely. Once I got into the habit of deleting sold items in a timely manner, my sales became more consistent.
Also, remember, your sale isn’t a static thing. I started off with 50 items on mine and then, after about a week, I took a look around my apartment and found over 20 more items I wanted to unload. Then, about a week after that, I unearthed some long-missing chargers and added even more items.
A toy sale can be a bit daunting but taking a little time to set it up will allow you to sit back and watch the sales come in. Good luck and have fun!