Why Facebook Garage Sale Sites Are a Great Resource
Online buying and selling sites, such as eBay or Craigslist, are nothing new. People have been enjoying selling their old socks, or an expired bag of stale Cheetos (you can find just about anything on Craigslist..) online for years now, and I'm sure nothing beats those last few minutes of an eBay bid war. They allow people to sell unwanted items (one person's trash is another ones treasure!) or unique handcrafted pieces to make a few extra dollars on the side, while also creating new space for that elliptical that you promise yourself you're going to use. Some may not know that Facebook (FB) can be used as a similar resource.
And Then There Was Facebook
FB and social media have been a part of our lives now for over 10 years, and with it sweeping the nation, basically any information can be spread globally within minutes. It started off as a way for friends and family to stay connected, and to share our deepest thoughts, such as "I don't want to do my homework (sad-face emoji)" or, "Look at my new big-mouth-bass mailbox! (insert photo)." But over the years it has developed into a resource for so many things - business promotion, marketing and networking, games and entertainment - you name it, it's probably on Facebook somewhere, and this leads me to FB garage sales sites.
These FB sites, or the online garage sale concept, may also not be a new idea, but I have only just recently been introduced to these pages, and I feel like they could use some time in the spot light.
If you search on your FB page, "(town/city/county you live in) garage sale" it is highly likely that there will be a page devoted to online buying, selling, or trading items specifically in your area. I have just recently had a great experience with the local garage sale site that I tend to scout the most, the 'Mchenry and Lake County Garage Sale.' A few months ago, I moved into my own apartment, and brought with me all of two pieces of furniture. I have been able to gather different pieces from this site and am well on my way to furnishing my apartment for less than the cost of one piece of new furniture. Most recently, I was able to find an adorable desk, of which I am sitting at right now while typing this. I contacted the seller, we set up a pick-up time, she helped me get the desk in my car, and boom! Quick and painless. But why not just stick to Craigslist? Is it really that different?
The Pros of Facebook Garage Sale Sites
2 Mile Radius
One of the most frustrating things I have ever dealt with on Craigslist is not being able to find items close enough to where I live. Yes, you can search locally, but for where I live, I have to narrow the search down to the suburbs of the closest major city, and this can be a pretty large range or area. If I find something, most often it is still over an hour away, and adding in gas or rental vehicle charges, it's not worth it for me to even make the effort. This goes both ways for small inexpensive items, or larger items like furniture. People tend to be more willing to pay for convenience, which introduces evil thoughts, like "I guess $200 isn't that much more money, maybe I'll just buy a new one - and they offer free delivery!"
With the FB pages, you are basically searching your neighborhood - it doesn't get much more convenient than that. You can also become a member of neighboring counties' pages if you are willing to drive a little further.
With Craigslist, it seems like you cannot expect an immediate response from someone. Often times people post items and leave them posted after they have already been sold, with no communication that it is no longer available. Many don't like to share their personal information, so you have to rely on email to contact, and with my experience, it can take an entire day or more to receive a response. This can be frustrating, especially if it involves needing to plan a vehicle or rental truck to pick up larger items.
With the FB garage sale sites, you really can expect an immediate response, whether looking to purchase or sell an item. The first time I posted items for sale on my local page, I literally had multiple responses within minutes, and solidified a sale within a few more. People that are posting to these sites are motivated sellers, so they are quick with responses and planning meeting or pick-up times. Not to mention, basically the world is obsessed with FB, and with Smartphones, that obsession is at our finger tips 24/7. All it takes is a 'ding!' notification, and you know your items have some traffic, or you may have a message from someone that you reached out to with an item that you want to purchase.
Another great trick that you can use on these pages is the ISO - In Search Of - post. You can spend hours online browsing through Craigslist and not really find exactly what you're looking for. On FB, if you just post an ISO, you can be specific, and most times someone out there has what you're looking for, like your post is rubbing the garage sale genies' lamp and your wish is granted. And again, the responses are immediate.
Example: My sister-in-law was given a car seat, but didn't have the specific base that it needed to actually use it in her car. She sent out an ISO, and someone actually offered her the base, FOR FREE. They had one, and had no use for it, so they were kind enough to give it to someone in need. She saved a lot of time and money just by reaching out to the local families in her area.
Not Just For Selling/Buying
Need a job? Post an ISO.
New to the area and want to find somewhere fun to take your kids? Post an ISO.
In search of a house, apartment or condo for rent? Post an ISO.
Need a service, like plumbing or electric work, and are unsure of where to start? Post an ISO.
Often times these types of posts also offer reviews of local businesses, anything from nail or hair salons to restaurants.
And one of my favorites - lost pets. Currently on my local page, there is a high alert post trending from a woman who has lost her dog. The post has 80+ comments and hundreds of shares, and someone has caught sight of the dog and an area that she seems to be staying in. The owner is on her way there right now, and is keeping those who have commented up to date on what is going on. Not that this can't be done with a normal post on your news feed, but this way, the information will likely reach more people in the local area where your dog or pet may be loose. I have seen other posts where dogs have gone missing and found again within hours because of the willingness of people to share and keep an eye out.
All of these are dependent on whether the Admin (more on Admins below) of the particular page allows such posts, but most don't have a problem with it.
I think it goes without saying that Craigslist can be pretty sketchy. There is not much monitoring of information, and you can be taking a really big risk by agreeing to meet with someone. I'm sure we have all heard of the instances of predators using Craigslist - there is literally a movie called "The Craigslist Killer." You never know who you're dealing with and whether a seller is legitimate.
The FB pages have to be created, and usually this person is called an Admin. The pages are also closed groups, meaning you have to request to be a member and be approved by the Admin before being able to comment or make posts on the page. People that request to be members that are not from a surrounding area are usually not approved, and people that make rude or inappropriate comments are deleted. The pages are constantly monitored - I have seen inappropriate comments deleted within minutes, so they do take it seriously. You can also report to the Admin if you have had a poor experience working with someone.
The biggest perk is you can literally see the people that you are conversing with. You can click on their profile, view their pictures, and see if they seem like someone you can trust to work with. This may seem a little stalker-ish, but It is always smart to exercise caution online when dealing with strangers, no matter the circumstance. On my local page, there are several people that frequent the page with items for sale, and it is clear that they are selling these items based on comments, so they are legitimate sellers. If you really want, you can try messaging or reaching out to someone who has purchased from someone like this (based on their comments) and ask how it was working with the seller. From my experience, people are also usually willing and more comfortable to meet locally for items, like the parking lot of a local grocery store or restaurant.
*A small side note: You should be careful with arranging to pick up an item from a stranger's house if you are alone and it is dark outside. You should also be cautious of having someone pick up an item from your house if you are alone.*
Unfortunately, as with most things in life, there are some cons with using the FB garage sale pages, and the most note-worthy is no-shows.
It's not uncommon for the first person that commented with interest on an item to not show up to a meeting or pick-up. You can usually gauge the type of person you're working with based on conversations with them. Arranging pick-ups at your house often work best to avoid the most frustration of transporting an item to another location and waiting there, only to find out no one is coming.
Check Yours Out!
There are many reasons to check out your local FB garage sale pages, and I've listed just a few here, but they really are a great resource. As I said, I have personally used mine to furnish my apartment, but there are so many uses for it.
Go check your pages today and open yourself up to some great opportunities to buy, sell, or connect with others in your neighborhood and surrounding area!