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Smart Buying

Join the Online Bazaar

You'll find it easier to recoop some of your spending by selling online, and you'll scoop up bargains on luxury goods.

Daniel Nissanoff, 40, is author of FutureShop (Penguin Press, $24.95) and co-founder of a company that helps resell luxury goods online. He buys a new cell phone twice a year, funded in part by reselling his "old" one.

You say we're going to be moving stuff in and out of our lives at a pretty good clip. We've grown up as a society of hoarders. But because of eBay, we're recognizing that the things we own -- a piece of furniture, a pair of shoes that hurt our feet but are basically new, a handbag we bought last year but no longer like -- have value that goes well beyond their usefulness to us. We can trade on that. When you buy a car, you know you'll sell it one day. The same thing will happen with golf clubs, skis, a watch, an appliance or a piece of furniture. One day their residual value will be published, just like the books for used cars.

Online shopping is a no-brainer. But online selling seems like a pain. It can be difficult. What's going to tip the scales is the advent of drop-off stores. Some 7,000 have opened in 18 months, from places like AuctionDrop, located in nearly 4,000 UPS stores, to mom-and-pops. You give them stuff, and they do the work. Within days, you're watching your stuff trade online. It's like the early days of the stock market. That market was never available to the average consumer until Merrill Lynch and Charles Schwab came to your neighborhood.

What sells best? Brand-name items that are high-quality and durable. But everything depreciates at its own rate. If you're going to resell tech, you need to move a product while it's still current. You might be able to use a handbag for a year or two and then get back half the value. Giorgio Armani clothing does not do well online, but put Hermegrave;s, Louis Vuitton and Chanel online and you'll have a frenzy. There's a robust market for high-end women's shoes. People wear them a few times, then sell them for hundreds of dollars.