Regardless of your craft or work medium there comes a point where you may be drowning in supplies. Too much fabric weighing down your creativity? Paints of all sorts when all you work with is gauche? Papers you will never use again? It’s time for a destash.
Our stashes are the supplies we have to make our crafts – beads, fabric, yarns, paper, etc. When we destash we are clearing out the stash. There are many reasons to do so: a change of taste, a move, switching mediums, the need for cash, decluttering.
Before you start your destash ask 2 key questions: How much time do you have? How much money do you want to make?
In considering your time, factor in the actual sorting and decision making for what is going, as well as the time needed to set up and run the sale. A successful destash is no overnight liquidation. Financial motivation influences whether you sell or donate your goods. Also whether you are pricing for a quick sale or to maximize your profits. Which also goes back to how much time you have on your hands.
“It’s too expensive to move stuff you don’t actually want halfway across the country. I ruthlessly threw out tiny bits of fabric. There will be more, ” says Connie Remetch, now of Tuscon, Ariz.
Her comments are echoed by Linda Hungerford.
“My purge didn’t have anything to do with selling fabric to get some money back for my investment, nor sell some coveted out-of-print fabric to make a profit. It was simply to lighten the fabric load in preparation for a U-Haul move.”
With time on their hands, both quilters found they could go through each bin, each stack of fabric, to make a decision on keep or destash. Time also allows you to research options for donating supplies or to run a sale.
You essentially have three options to sell your stash. One, you can list it all on Etsy or a similar on-line marketplace. Two, you can use social media, particularly Instagram. Or three, you can host an in-person sale, like a garage sale of sorts.
Platforms like Etsy, Big Cartel, or Shopify work perfectly for destash sales. If you have a blog check your platform, there may be a way to do it straight through that too. It takes time to get all the listings up, but it eases things to have all your sales in one spot. Even if you don’t do sales now, offering your stash through a sales platform can ease the workload of managing the details, tracking sales and accounting.
After your sorting you need to take pictures. Make sure each item is clearly identified. Whether it is the specific type of pen, weight of yarn, or colour of paint, the easier it is to determine visually, the better chance you have of interest. If you want to sell things as groupings, the same thing applies. Creatives are often more visually inclined, so while a good description is important, a great picture is better.
Speaking of pictures, Instagram is also a great tool for destashing. Your audience is, ostensibly, already interested in what you do and how you do it. The use of hashtags can extend that audience as well. The most popular one is #destash, plain and simple, but there are others. Essentially start with the word #destash and then add your type of supply behind that.
The key with Instagram sales is somewhat counter-inituitive. If you suddenly post 30 pictures of items for sale you will likely lose/alienate a number of followers. Set up another account, using your handle with _destash added afterwards. Then use your regular account to promote the destash one, but keep the destash photos to a minimum there.
Important, as well, with Instagram, is following the sales. Most people use comments or Direct Messages to watch for interest. That means you will be on your device keeping up with comments once you post. It generally operates first come, first served with comments. So you need to respond quickly to people expressing interest. Then you need a mechanism for securing the sale. Interested parties should be directed to a payment mechanism – etransfer or PayPal.
With both online options you have to ensure you get the packages out the door quickly. Be ready to ship before you sell, know your shipping plans. Do you have any shipping restrictions (US only, overseas, no airmail), will you have a flat rate, and is shipping included? Factor in the time to pack and ship.
Alternatively, have a garage sale of sorts. Gather everything, pick a day, and open the doors to sell your stash locally. Market the event with social media and Kijiji or Craiglist. It still requires a time commitment, but it might get more out the door with less overall effort than an on-line destash. You can always do this first then turn online or donate what doesn’t sell. This type of sale can coincide nicely with open studios or art walks. Consider joining forces with colleagues or a guild for a sale or swap of supplies; shared marketing and shared effort.
If you would prefer to donate stash from the get go, or after a sale, do your research. Donations of craft supplies are almost always well received, particularly by groups that either make charity projects (especially so with fabric or yarn) or public art programs. Preschools and art studios can be grateful recipients. Ask other creatives, contact stores where you buy your supplies new, use social media, or attend a local show to check out donation options. Always call and confirm what can be donated before showing up with a box of used brushes or scraps of paper.
It all sounds like a lot of work. It is. Is it worth it? Well, you aren’t going to retire on the money nor are you likely to recoup all of your investment. For many of us though, extra cash in the pocket always helps. For most of us, the freedom that comes with a lightened load can inspire creativity or focus.
Remetch says she feels lighter and freer. Not to mention, renewed.
“For awhile, until I had to devote myself totally to packing, I made baby blankets w/ my random strips. Turns out instead of being mindlessly repetitious, it was great structure for Improv piecing… Who knew! I’ve looked at those containers of strips for years, sighed, felt burdened by my duty to use them but thought it would be deadening & tedious. I was so delightfully wrong. I would never have realized this opportunity had I not gotten serious about deciding what to keep & what to pitch.”
Cheryl is a quilter, writer, and teacher. She enjoys her Morning Make in the tiny sewing room in her Calgary, Alberta basement.