One of the most thrilling parts of storage auctions is digging through the items left behind by their owner. This sort of treasure hunting can connect you with history and culture, and it gives you an interesting insight into the life of a stranger. Sometimes, though, that stranger's life is perhaps more interesting than you'd hoped it would be – and they've left you with sensitive items that you now need to find a way to resell.
It could be that the storage unit was full of sex toys and pornography. Or perhaps the previous owner was a collector of Nazi or KKK memorabilia. Whatever the case may be, you now are the owner of items that you don't want to keep but aren't too excited about selling at a flea market where everyone knows your name. What can you do?
First, make sure that nothing you've purchased is actually illegal. Drug paraphernalia, child pornography, guns and other such items must be handled by the police, and it's up for them to decide whether you can hold onto them. If in doubt, check with the law first so you don't get in trouble for attempting to re-sell something that's illegal to own.
But assuming that your item isn't illegal, just in poor taste, there are a few methods for selling it. If you're not ashamed of damaging your reputation, of course, you can always resell these items through your usual channels, such as the flea market or yard sales. If you'd rather avoid having your local community question your tastes, however, you'll want to opt for something a bit more discreet. It's also likely that your usual buyers will have little interest in these specialized items, so it's often not worth the risk to alienate them.
Other valid options are eBay & Craigslist. You can buy and sell practically anything on these sites, and they're relatively anonymous. Of course, if you do a lot of your business on eBay already, you may run into the same problems mentioned above – alienating your buyers and damaging your reputation. Additionally, these websites may prohibit you from posting certain types of items.
If you have a bit of time on your hands, one of the best methods for selling these sensitive items may be to search out potential buyers and contact them directly. There are millions of websites on the Internet, and quite a few of them are devoted to very specific interests. Do a bit of searching to find a community or forum interested in the kind of sensitive items you have for sale, and see if you could convert the members into customers. Maybe you could post an ad on their forum or even email a few likely collectors. It takes some effort, but your odds of making a decent sale improve when you do this.
If you'd rather not have the Nazi memorabilia fall into the hands of a collector, an alternative plan may be to contact a museum. Even if you can't sell it, you can donate the item and get a tax write-off. This will take the item off your hands and leave you feeling good about it in the process.
However you choose to dispose of sensitive items, some discretion can help save you from embarrassment and lost customers without taking a loss on things deemed unsaleable.
Have you or someone you know come across sensitive items in a storage unit? If so, how did get rid of the merchandise?