How I funded a whole new ski setup selling UnNew gear: A tale of two months of fruitful labors on Geartrade.
This fall, I faced a financial conundrum. I’d lost one of my main day-to-day touring skis in a crash last spring—it was buried deep under wet sluff and was never recovered. And now, with winter fast approaching, I realized I’d have to bite the bullet and buy a whole new pair of replacement skis. And bindings to go on them.
Being rather picky about getting the perfect setup, I had my eye on a ski/binding combo that would cost me $1,050. Normally I could manage this with only moderate wincing, but I also had a season pass to buy, and I was paying off knee surgery. (See: aforementioned ski crash.)
Then I realized that as a Geartrade blogger who happens to have multiple closets full of old gear and outdoor clothing I don’t use much … all I had to do was get serious about selling my own unneeded stuff. I set the goal and set to work to raise the money for my new daily-driver dream setup. (Atomic Backland 107s with Plum Oazo bindings, for the curious.)
First, I took a few hours to go through every drawer, cabinet, and shelf in my gear room to find things I could sell. There were some obvious big-ticket items: a pair of Blizzard resort skis with bindings that were in great shape—I’d just never loved the skis and rarely took them out. I also had a pair of really nice ski touring boots that had never quite fit right.
There were also a ton of clothing items and odd goods—a rain jacket that I’d replaced with a newer one, base layers that were in perfectly good shape but rarely worn, a pair of well-worn softshell pants I’d replaced last winter. I found a random insulated running vest I’d won in a silent auction—a size too big, so I rarely wore it.
Into the “sell pile.” I threw a pair of La Sportiva touring boots that had seen a few intense seasons of wear and tear, but since I didn’t wear them anymore, surely someone would want them for the right price.
I threw all the sell-able clothing into the washing machine and dusted off the hardgoods. It was time to list my items. Except now they didn’t feel like ignored old gear; they felt like a treasure.
Photograph, list, repeat.
Fortunately, I’ve written a couple of articles for Geartrade’s blog about how to photograph your gear nicely and how to write a decent product description. (Read ‘em!)
I can’t overstate how important it is to get good, clear photos of your items and put just a smidge of effort into compiling a product description. It doesn’t take long. You don’t need a fancy camera—just your iphone and some natural light. And you don’t need to be a polished writer to put the description together. Treat it as a checklist and follow the steps in the how-to article. If you include all the needed information, you’ve created a decent product description. Your gear will sell much faster, and for a better price.
Actually listing your stuff is pretty darn easy. (This simple step-by-step guide here is quite intuitive.) It should only take a couple minutes per item. Make sure you select a product category that really makes sense. Don’t be sloppy, or interested buyers may not find your item as they browse by category. If it’s a women’s ski jacket, don’t mistakenly list it as a casual jacket; the right people won’t find it.
I waited for the morning light to hit a sunny spot on my (clean!) wood floor, then laid each item out one by one to photograph from a few angles with my phone. Then I hopped over to my computer and sipped a few cups of coffee while I listed every single item and upload the pics of each one.
Lie in wait.
Once all my items were listed, I monitored my email for the coming days and weeks. A smattering of questions from potential buyers came through, as well as a few offers below list price. (I accepted most of them.)
To give things an extra nudge, I posted links to my items on the local backcountry skiing Facebook group page. A couple of items sold immediately after this.
One by one, the offers and purchases trickled in. My efforts were quite literally paying off. The skis I didn’t use much fetched $355. The two pairs of boots I didn’t use anymore brought in a total of $385. The random running vest that was too big brought in $30. My old rain jacket fetched $112. A puffy jacket I rarely wore (I have a puffy jacket surplus) sold for $66.
Geartrade takes a 13% cut, which is pretty minor, and my Venmo deposits from Geartrade started adding up.
Make friends with the local post office.
I quickly learned that I needed to save all my Amazon boxes and boxes from any other online purchases. The Geartrade items had to be boxed up, and why waste money buying fresh ones at the post office?
The trickiest conundrum was finding a box of the right size to ship my skis—I snagged a ski box from a local ski shop’s recycling pile. I learned that skis and boots are bulky enough to cost more than you’d expect to ship. This was a takeaway I’ll keep in mind in the future. (Note to self: charge buyers more to ship the big bulky stuff!)
As my items sold, I was making trips to the post office every few days. I showed up right at their opening time to avoid waiting in line. On Geartrade, you do have up to five days to ship your item, but the sooner you ship, the sooner you get paid. Geartrade waits for a long enough window to make sure the item is received and the buyer can confirm it’s legit. Then, your money automatically arrives in whatever form you prefer—Venmo, PayPal, or direct deposit.
Fruits of the labor.
I squirreled away my money, and as soon as I had enough piled up, I ran to my friendly local shop and purchased my coveted skis. A couple of weeks later, enough money had come through to cover the bindings I wanted, too, so I went and grabbed those.
I’d raised $1,061 and cleared out substantial clutter from my gear closet. I felt great knowing this stuff is somewhere out there, getting used by its next owner now. A girl in Park City is now wearing my old softshell touring pants. A woman in Pennsylvania is using my old skis. And my former ski touring boots are now on the feet of a shredder in Butte, Montana. This is so. Darn. Cool.
I still have a few ski layers and some mountaineering boots listed for sale, and when those go through, I’m planning on rewarding myself with some lighter ski mountaineering crampons.
It’s the circle of life. But for gear.
Beth Lopez is a seasoned writer and creative director who loves to tell tales of adventure and discovery—and finds writing a powerful way to give a voice to people, causes, and places. Beth runs amok in the Wasatch mountains when untethered from her computer. She believes there’s no such thing as a bad ski day and considers animals her favorite people. Don’t tell her mother about her Instagram mountaineering photos.