Time Out investigates how to earn cash on the second-hand market
With 87 percent of the UAE’s estimated nine million-strong population made up of expats, Dubai can be perfect place to buy and sell second-hand goods. Transience, it seems, is a lucrative business and there are now more ways than ever to make some cash flogging your stuff in this city. Second-hand fashion pop-up My Ex Wardrobe launched in May 2011 and has hosted more than 250 different sellers, with a number of them returning for as many as five or six events. Meanwhile, UAE classifieds site Dubizzle, which launched in 2005, is now the biggest local site in the country after Google and Facebook, with 3.5 million unique visitors every month. With furniture one of the most sought-after second-hand purchases, new venue The Auction House Dubai is set to answer demand when it launches in Al Quoz this month, offering an ultra-convenient service for people looking to sell and buy pieces.
‘This is the first auction house to happen here in Dubai for pre-owned furniture,’ says Francis Morgan, the company’s general manager and auctioneer. With the seller firmly in mind, the process is much more streamlined than private sales routes. Sellers simply call a toll-free number and a staff member visits the house to do a free appraisal on the items. ‘As long as the furniture is in good condition, and ultimately not from Ikea, we get our removal company to come along and collect the furniture for a small fee (from Dhs100 to Dhs200 per piece) and then deliver it to the auction house,’ he says. The items are then uploaded to the company’s social media accounts and website, as well as a weekly catalogue before being assigned a lot number for auction.
The immediate benefits of this service are convenience, but unlike classifieds sites such as Dubizzle, it does come with a fee. ‘We take 20 percent off what the item sells for, as a brokerage,’ says Francis. ‘But the great thing about selling through The Auction House Dubai is that within an auction, everything is negotiated up. We arrange collection, delivery, there is one person to come to see you and gives you a fair evaluation on the item, then the price of the item is negotiated up, not down,’ he says. Plus, if you need to leave the country urgently, they’re able to bank transfer the profits made from sales.
It all sounds great, but there are strict guidelines on what you can and can’t sell through The Auction House Dubai, whereas almost anything goes on Dubizzle – as long as the item is not forbidden by UAE law. ‘To give you an example of some of the more exciting stuff that is sold on Dubizzle; we’ve sold a Mustang that was used in the Nicolas Cage movie Gone in 60 Seconds and very old comics. You get a wide variety of items, everything from household to garden furniture to electronics to ticketing,’ says Barry Judge, general manager for Dubizzle in the UAE.
Similarly, there is no guarantee that your item will sell at auction, but considering the reach of a site such as Dubizzle, the potential to sell immediately is quite high. ‘If you think about the population of the UAE, about half of the country is actually on Dubizzle three and a half times a month,’ says Barry. ‘One of the biggest positives is that the seller lists the item, the item goes lives straight away and within a minute of the item being live they’re already receiving calls and enquiries about it. It’s an extremely powerful experience for the user, because there is no delay in terms of the response. Your item could sell within five minutes, it might sell within a couple of days,’ he says.
Of course, not everyone is up for the haggling phone calls listing your goods on classified sites can entail, in which case a more controlled selling environment just might be your thing. In addition to the weekly auctions, The Auction House Dubai is holding flea market-type Flea Fairs every Friday and Saturday for smaller items, where prospective buyers can enjoy coffee and snacks from More Café mid-sale. ‘There are 20 tables and each table is sold at Dhs500 per day in an air-conditioned auction house,’ says Francis. ‘You may replenish the table as much as you like.’ What is sold, however, is still closely monitored. ‘We don’t sell clothes, we tend to sell nicer items, such as antique cameras, and you must sign a contract and let us know what you’re selling,’ says Francis.
For those who do choose to sell items themselves privately, there are some basic tips worth considering. ‘The biggest mistake people make on Dubizzle is not putting adequate imagery with the item,’ says Barry. ‘We recommend that individuals upload five or more images, but it depends on the item, obviously. The more images that you use, the more attractive that item is to a buyer. People tend to buy with their eyes, and even if the item has been used or has a scratch on it or some sort of a flaw, even taking a photograph of that flaw and allowing the buyer to determine whether that’s acceptable or not. It helps you sell the item a lot more,’ he says.
As well as the obvious benefits that the recycling of second-hand goods has on the environment, Barry says that getting rid of used stuff mindfully can also have a positive impact on your household. ‘By understanding the power of what’s tied up in unused items in your house, and to be able to buy, trade and sell these items really allows you to manage your household in a better way and it reduces the dependency on third parties to manage it for you,’ says Barry. ‘That’s why Dubizzle exists, to redefine the culture of ownership in the UAE.’ Cue flashing dirham signs. We promise you’ll never look at the contents of your flat in the same way again. For more information on selling your belongings and to view second-hand items, visit www.dubizzle.com and www.theauctionhousedubai.com.
Dubai’s most in-demand goods
• Furniture and home and garden related-items. • Electronics and home appliances. • ‘Autos are massive – the most popular car is Toyota, half a million visitors look at Toyota cars on a monthly basis, while Toyota, Nissan and Honda are the most popular cars. There are a lot of views of Ferraris, but obviously not a lot of leads, so everyone kind of desires one, but not many people can afford one.’
The Auction House Dubai
• L-shaped sofas. • Darkwood dining room tables with eight to ten chairs and long, tall mirrors, about two or three metres high.