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Getting out/Selling the whole shibang - free advice?


JCC
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Howdy Forum People.

It's been a minute since I've been here, but this forum was integral to learning pro sound and to my business' success.  You guys were amazingly helpful to me as I learned the business of ENG sound - Thank you!  (and yes, I have made a donation to this very valuable site).

It was a great (successful/lucrative), albeit somewhat short, career.  I am now getting out of the business, and would like to sell my entire ENG audio kit (SD 633, tons of Lectro - all legal blocks, tiny lockits, etc...).  My kit is a bit dated, but it all works excellently and has been meticulously cared for.

Have any of you been able sell entire packages - or do you end up having to part everything out?  Also, where do you have the most success when selling your gear (eBay? Craigslist? Somewhere else?).  

Thank you!

John

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I have actually sold two entire packages (not mine) and I am getting ready to sell a third, mine.

 

I have found a few things.  Nobody wants "your" (or "mine" or "their's") rig.  Our work is built on and encourages customization and I find that no two of us do it the same way.  Therefore, I have found that it all needs to be gotten rid of a piece at a time as daunting as that seems, and is.

 

So here's how it has worked for me.  The good, expensive stuff, especially microphones, will sell fast and at the highest possible price.  That isn't to say that you'll get what you paid, but if you bought good (the best) microphones and you bought them used, you'll get what you paid, in most cases.  For rare, clean and vintage mics, you may even get a tiny bit more.  Cheap mics sell for nothing.  People buy them new, cheap. Digital gear, like recorders, preamps, interfaces. mixing panels, you'll take a significant hit; the older the gear, the more of a hit you'll take. Cases, racks, IFBs, and cables?  I say get what you can, but be prepared to have no one interested in the 15,000 feet of XLR cable that you (I) have collected over 40+ years.  Your Magliner cart, yes.  Your 35 year old Location Sound cart, not so much.  Old wireless, yes but not for much even though you and I know that they perform perfectly.  Our gear is sometimes a show-and-tell to clients whether we think that is okay or not.  Sell a time-code slate.  Maybe not.  A Lectro 400?  Nope.  Well, you can sell it, but you won't be happy with what you get.  All the bits and pieces; magic arms, clamps, Comtek phones, suspensions and zeppelins, booms.  Yep, for a little something. Paid $3000 for that 788T 30 years ago?  Maybe 1200.  But it still works great, right?  It's the one piece of gear that I would never sell.  It and two or three pair of mics go with me into my retirement after 70 years walking the planet.

 

My dear friend Dwight reminds me, "A seller makes a sale when he and the buyer agree on a price."  That and remember to factor in all the use you have gotten over the years and the rentals that the stuff has put in your bank account.  The stuff you bought last year for big bucks that you manage to sell for a pittance (or not sell at all), oh well.

 

Where to sell?  I sell across a lot of platforms.  The obvious ones like eBay.  But there is Etsy for "vintage" stuff.  Craigslist if you rather deal with freaks in place of fees?  Sure, but take care not to expose your stash to someone who comes by a week later and breaks into your garage.  GearSpace forum has a nice classified section with no fees.  You need to register and it's mostly recording studio stuff but it is worth a look.  Reverb is a place that would be worth a look as well.  I have had good success there.  Again, production sound stuff is not its primary market but I have sold stuff there.  JWSound's WTB/WTS forum is an awesome site with an obviously production sound viewership.  The LA and NYC (Florida, Atlanta, etc) movie sound gear vendors (Trew, Gotham, Location Sound, etc) will take consignments and again, get seen by location sound people.  Consignment fees are high and you might need to actually have your stuff in their showroom to be eligible.

 

After a really not fun or easy process, you will find some (most) of your stuff gone, and hopefully have seen some income and a freeing up of space in your home (as important as the dollars earned in my case), but you will still have bins and boxes, and bags and cases full of stuff that it is obvious that no one wants at any price.  Donations to local film schools, community colleges, friends who are just starting out, or for free on CL and JWSound are always a nice and freeing way to get rid of stuff and get some well deserved joy in return.  Helping out those up and coming is a great way to pay karma forward, and I have been known to give away stuff that was quite valuable just to save myself from the aggravation of putting it on the market, especially stuff that I have "gotten my moneys' worth" out of.

 

Good luck, head down and drive on.  It will take a while and it will be a time and emotion challenge but you'll get through it and after all is said and done, it will all be okay.

 

D.

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Doug, I have been reading with great interest your experiences selling (and I imagine giving away) sound gear. I still have a shop full of stuff having only sold a few items since retiring (my last Deva, my Zaxcom wireless and a few Schoeps microphones and accessories). So much of the things that were vital to my production career are no longer needed as production procedures have changed so dramatically over the years. I do have miles of mic cable (XLR), adapter cables to accommodate connectors that do not even exist on current gear, cases full of clamps, goosenecks, etc. for plant mics (when there are whole sound teams that never even use plant mics anymore!). Then there are all the things which I really just want to throw out but to be environmentally responsible much of it would require hazardous waste pickup, etc, I can't just throw it in the trash. I'm not sure how to proceed. At the very least there might be some value in the fifty or sixty Pelican cases I still have that holds all this other useless stuff.

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Doug,

 

That is some excellent and well researched advice regarding the selling of our gear. I’m sure your experience will help all of those wondering how best to part with a careers worth of sound equipment when the time comes. Myself included. Thank you!

 

Along those lines, a mixer and good friend of mine decided recently when he retired to sell his entire package for a shockingly low price, with the caveat that the buyer take it all, down to the very last adapter and carpet. As I happen to know both the buyer and seller, I know that this arrangement worked out very well for both parties. The retiring mixer cleared out his garage, made a fair dollar (all things considered), and paid it forward. The young mixer just starting out got a feature package, albeit slightly dated, for a song.

Both were winners, and good karma prevailed. 
 

Moe
 

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Spectacular advice, one and all.  Thank you Doug and Moe and one more time for this amazing forum!  I like that idea of cheap and complete!  I'll noodle it.

 

Best to you!

 

John

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In years of observing "quitting business" sales here @ JW and on the BBS that was its antecedent I would say that the chances of selling a full "package", ie emptying your shop in a single sale are next to zero UNLESS you have a young ambitious assistant or two who want to take it all on.  There was a tradition of this kind of thing in Hollywood at one time, but that was when there was a lot less gear involved and what there was tended to last soundies for nearly their whole careers (the "Pax Nagra" so to speak).  Now, as Mr. T says, you need to be ready to do some real work marketing, selling and shipping the "good stuff" (which will go fast if the price is right), much harder than that with the "less good" (ie older) stuff while taking more or less what anyone will pay for it, and resign yourself to the futility of selling cables, snakes, custom widgets and non-brand-name gear more or less at all: count yourself lucky if someone will let you give it to them.  I'm girding myself for another try at partly clearing out my shop, (partly because I'm still working on select jobs vs totally walking away), and in this round I intend to move as much of that old stuff as I can however I can, including taking stuff to E-Waste as well as CL Free.

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Lots of good advice on here.  I'd first and foremost start off by making a detailed spreadsheet and photos of every single thing you're offering.  It will be tedious, but then maybe list it without a price and see what offers come in as long as people will take every last inch of equipment, the good, the bad, and the ugly of it all?  If the numbers given to you don't sound good, then you might have to do what Doug suggests and sell the really good stuff off first and then maybe list the less desirable stuff as a lot.  The good news right now is that I'm finding that because of how high the prices of new gear have climbed these last few years (thanks chip shortage / inflation etc), I'm noticing that good used gear, even if dated a bit, tends to be selling for higher than expected.  I recently witnessed this when people literally on three continents were fighting over some old Tascam gear I was selling from 2008, go figure.

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11 hours ago, codyman said:

  The good news right now is that I'm finding that because of how high the prices of new gear have climbed these last few years (thanks chip shortage / inflation etc), I'm noticing that good used gear, even if dated a bit, tends to be selling for higher than expected. 

Yes, I feel if the severe supply disruptions we've had since early 2020 (for all the obvious reasons... plus less obvious reasons, such as the factory fire) are to sort themselves out (I'm the optimist!) within the next couple of years, then I expect the prices of secondhand goods will drop again (as secondhand prices for many items have been surprisingly high! Simply because people can't source brand new stock).

 

So for anybody considering selling, then within the next six months is probably optimal timing. 

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I don’t have any experience with selling entire packages, but I want to mention that I‘ve had good success selling gear on Facebook. The chance of getting ripped off is much higher, but you’ll also sell things much faster there, as the audience is so much larger. You need to be careful, but the same applies here where many people don’t even post with their name

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If I might add, and i know mentioned previous but for me personally if i dont have success selling here on JW, I ship the gear to production sound retailers for consignment and usually the items sell immediately. They also provide options to ship internationally. to me the consignment fees are well worth letting them handle all of the admin and the exposure to working mixers purchasing gear is quite high relative to JW. But I also realize that would mean shipping a lot of stuff!

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I agree, although many sorts of older or obscure gear are not wanted by the consignment folks, and newer brand name stuff you can sell yourself and save the fee.  If you don't live in a major market there might not many folks interested in the sort of gear we use, and places like Trew have an international clientele and will sell big items pretty fast if the price is good.  EBay has become even more of a hassle lately, but I found that it was the fastest way to sell by far--they have the biggest reach of all.  For me the order has been 1: local soundies,  2: Trew consignment, 3: JW/Gearspace classified, 4: Reverb or Ebay.  But a lot of stuff is never going to sell at all, is the big problem...

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Ugh for me ebay is horrible for our gear - as a buyer all good but as a seller people can return for any reason and ebay yanks the money back from you without question, and it ends up being more hassle than it’s worth for the fees they charge. I am an honest seller and prefer equally honest buyers. I feel like JW here is such a beautiful buy/sell space because we are all professionals who research what we buy. Ebay is such a headache if you are not like an ebay retailer with retail-like sensibilities. But I personally think a mix of all the above mentioned sources other than eBay are a great way to go to get rid of a good amount of stuff

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Ebay is good for buying but selling is terrible.  They take their fees out of the total including tax/shipping!  So they always get a bigger chunk then you'd think but yes, you'll probably find a buyer.  I have heard horror stories of buyers claiming all sorts of things and getting their money back etc. although I thankfully haven't encountered that.  The biggest problem I've had is deadbeat bidders who at the end of the auction ghost you or say "Actually I don't want it and/or don't have the money for it".  Then why did you bid!?!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Also, remember that for me, most of my "Production Sound" gear was sold years ago and that I mostly have "Recording Studio" gear nowadays.  Albeit gear that is used on location.  So in that regard, Reverb is a pretty good place for me to sell.

 

If I had newish and top-shelf production sound gear, I would certainly consider the NY and LA production sound houses.

 

Finally, I am considering a "lend/lease" deal for a package with a young man who I know coming up in the location classical music recording biz.  So sort of rent-to-own with a really nice curve to the deal.  I am not certain that he is ready to own and deal with a lot of gear but the discussion is on-going.

 

D.

 

PS.  Anyone looking for a nice Crest monitor panel.  Used on a couple of scoring sessions.  :)

Crest.webp

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