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Bursting at the Beams:
Donating, selling or hauling away stuff lets you and your house breathe again

Democrat & Chronicle, 9/23/06
Lisa Hutchurson, Staff Writer

Fall seems a good time for clearing out the clutter.

Perhaps we feel that, with the trees losing leaves, it's time to shed whatever's past its season. Or maybe it's the thought of bulky sweaters and holiday trappings that makes us clear the way.

Whatever it is, the options have expanded when it comes to finding new homes for our castoffs.

"Agencies have seen they can make a profit or use the items to help the community," says Dorothy Madden, owner of the Organize It! organizing service in Penfield. "If you're not using an item and it's collecting dust, you might as well give it to someone who can use it."

Making money on it is another option. That's why Madden compiled a list of local avenues that will sell your stuff or use it to help others. The following includes some of her list, as well as other options. It's by no means exhaustive, but it can be a good start.

Auctioneers. These are good for selling large amounts of items. You make money on whatever sells (minus a commission — usually about 10 percent for high-end stuff to 50 percent for low-end items such as pots, pans and Tupperware). If the expected sale value doesn't meet the minimum (generally about $3,000 gross), consider an auction house that will put your items into a consignment auction (a grouping of items from various people). Look in the Yellow Pages under "Auctioneers."

Computer or electronics reusers or recyclers. You either drop off or arrange a pickup of computer or electronics equipment. Some places require appointments; some have restrictions on what they'll take; some take the stuff for free; others charge between $5 and $12 for monitors, $10 for TVs. Look in the Yellow Pages under "Computers" or "Recycling Centers."

Consignment stores. Drop off items to sell on consignment at the shop. If an item sells, the store pays you a percentage of the sale price. See the Yellow Pages for listings.

Donation collection centers. These include places such as the Salvation Army, Volunteers of America and Goodwill, many of which can be found in the Yellow Pages under "Thrift Shops." Some churches also collect donations. For instance, there's the Asbury Storehouse, 1050 East Ave. (affiliated with Asbury First United Methodist Church, (585) 473-0950; Matthew's Closet, 880 E. Main St., (affiliated with Corpus Christi Church, (585) 232-5160 and Saint's Place, 46 S. Main St., Pittsford. (585) 385-6860.

eBay auction consignment houses. You bring items to drop-off locations or call to schedule a pickup. They create a listing, sell your item on eBay, process the payment and ship your item. You receive a check, minus their commission. They won't take items they know won't sell, and certain items are prohibited.

  • Auction and Go. Drop off items at 780 Ridge Road, Webster. (585) 671-1200 or www.auctionandgo.com.
  • Clutter to Cash of New York. Drop off items at 1925 South Ave., all Rochester-area UPS Stores, Buy the Book at 1778 Empire Blvd. in Webster or Lilliput Dollhouses & Miniatures at 7 East Ave. in Fairport. (585) 271-8010 or www.cluttertocash.net.

Free online sharing networks. Offer any item you don't want as a gift, no strings attached, on a local Web site. Another member of the network arranges, via anonymous e-mail, to come take it off your hands. Some items prohibited. Membership is free.

Free online classified ads. The most well-known one is Craigslist (rochester.craigslist.org). You can also try sites like Yahoo Classifieds (go to classifieds.yahoo.com and enter a keyword, city and state).

Nonprofits. Find out who needs what locally with the Community Wishbook at www.communitywishbook.com. For those who don't have Internet access, the latest information will be in this year's edition of the printed Wishbook, available at free-literature racks, libraries and Tops supermarkets starting Oct. 18.

Monroe County Household Hazardous Waste Facility. Accepts, by appointment, paint and household chemicals. To schedule a free drop-off at 444 East Henrietta Road, call (585) 760-7600, option 3.

Flower City Habitat for Humanity ReStore. A store where you can donate home improvement items such as sinks, cabinets, countertops, flooring, tile, lumber, tools and hardware. Habitat sells them at discounted prices and puts the money toward its projects. Donations accepted by appointment. Call (585) 697-2012 to schedule drop-offs at 66 Public Market (the northeast corner building at the Rochester Public Market, next to the former Public Footwear store). For more information, go to www.rochesterhabitat.org/get_involved/gi_ReStore.shtml.

YWCA Working Wardrobe. Accepts new or next-to-new professional clothes and accessories. Drop off items between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays at 175 N. Clinton Ave., or 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 2534 Ridgeway Ave., Greece. For more information, call (585) 546-5820.

1-800-Got Junk. This service, also at www.1800gotjunk.com, removes and loads your stuff, then cleans up afterward. Most items are recycled or donated. You pay by truck volume (between $88 and $518).

Tax deductions 101
Donated items are tax deductible. Here's what you need to do to claim deductions, says Sue DeVuyst, master tax adviser for H&R Block in Rochester.

  • Make an itemized list of what you're donating.
  • For each item, assess its fair market value (what you'd expect someone to pay for it). Use the sheets handed out by some charitable agencies as a guide. Or price similar items at garage sales and thrift shops.
  • Ask whomever you're donating to for a form or receipt for tax deduction purposes. To meet record-keeping requirements, you should also save any canceled checks, acknowledgement letters from the charity and appraisals.

Reprinted with the permission of the Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, NY