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Linda’s Stuff founder Linda Lightman gets cash for clutter

Linda Lightman, left, will help you figure out

Linda Lightman, left, will help you figure out how to profit from organizing. Here, she looks over Allison Vulpis' collection of unwanted handbags, finding one r-e-a-l-l-y old designer bag she thought would sell for $800.   Photo Credit: Bruce Gilbert

The new year has a way of creeping up — and along with the date change comes a whole set of new resolutions. For many, that includes getting organized.

Answer to your prayers? Linda Lightman, 54, the founder of Linda’s Stuff who offers advice on clearing your closet and making money in the process. One of eBays’ top sellers of luxury consignment, Lightman, who grew up in Merrick, believes most people have at least $3,000 worth of unwanted or unused items hanging around their homes. Her ABC Digital show, “I Can Find $3,000 in Your Home,” underscores the point (watch it at abc.go.com).

Lightman started selling her sons’ unwanted video games on eBay in 2001 and today serves customers worldwide in her 93,000-square-foot headquarters in Hatboro, Pennsylvania.

A few weeks back, Newsday invited Lightman to the Port Washington home of Allison Vulpis, 46, who’d just moved in with husband Paul, 47, and two kids. “Moving made me realize how much extra stuff I had and I just hung it up in my closet even though I knew I would never wear it,” Vulpis said. “I hated the clutter and thought it would be terrific if I could make extra money getting rid of it.”

On a rain-soaked Tuesday, Lightman arrived. “Take me to your closet,” she ordered. In less than an hour, she deftly sifted through some 70 items Vulpis had pulled out — mostly clothes, accessories and a few decorative objects. Like a heat-seeking missile, her eyes lit upon three embroidered Jonathan Adler pillows. “Oh, those will do very well,” she said, checking the stats on her phone to see how much folks were paying for them: $110 each.

Onward to a collection of unwanted handbags. She spotted a fake Gucci in a nanosecond. “We can’t sell this,” she said. Not true of a vintage Chanel bag — real — that she priced at $800. But not everything was as high-end: two old Coach bags in good condition would garner $90 each; a Free People cardigan, $29; and a pair of Kate Spade platforms, $39. She bundled some of the kids’ clothes, two sparkly miniskirts, $39 for both, and a few little-boy tees, $29. At the last minute, Vulpis tossed on a vintage leather Alaïa jacket with big shoulders that nearly swallowed her. “I was thinking of getting it tailored,” Vulpis said. But when Lightman pointed out how much that would cost versus the $599 she thought it would command, Vulpis relinquished the piece.

In the end, the estimated value was — CHA-CHING — $4,007. Noted, Lightman, like other consignors, charges a commission (though you can certainly do it on your own). For more information on her rates, go to shoplindasstuff.com

Vulpis was thrilled. “I couldn’t believe all the hidden money I had in my house. Now, my closet only has stuff I want and I’ve got some serious found cash.”

Expert tips: Turn clutter into cash

Linda Lightman, a Long Island native and founder of Linda’s Stuff, believes many of us have at least $3,000 of unwanted stuff in our homes. Here are a few tips:

  • Identify what to sell: If you haven’t worn it in a year, you probably won’t miss it. In choosing items, follow trends, she says. Athleisure brands like Lululemon are in demand, along with designer jeans and handbags. New items with tags will go quickly, she says, but don’t overlook older, gently worn items.
  • Research price: “Look at similar items and what they have been purchased for,” says Lightman (you can check this on her site). And she urges sellers to “practice pretty pricing — $89 or $99 is much more appealing than $90 or $100.”
  • Take great photos: Buyers rely on photography, so show every angle along with special features or imperfections. Use a clean background.
  • Write detailed descriptions: Try to anticipate what buyers want to know about an item; use designer/brand names in the title to optimize searches.

— Anne Bratskeir

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