Want to sell some old stuff? You can always hold a yard sale, but that's a ton of work.
Then there's Craigslist, but that opens you up to all sorts of creepy people emailing you, to say nothing of the foreign scammers who want to send you a bogus check.
But now there's an easier, safer way. Facebook has just launched Facebook Marketplace, a direct competitor to eBay, which lets yousell things you don't want to people in your area, and buy things they don't want..
It is actually a re-lauch, as the first attempt at Marketplace stumbled. But with so many people joining Facebook selling groups, the site is now committing to making it work.
Closets Full of Clothing
Mary Jane Calderon, like so many moms, has too much children's clothing and shoes.
"I have lots of items from my kids that I'd like to get rid of, taking up too much space at home," the Northern Kentucky mom said.
So she found a local Facebook sale group and was stunned by how fast she made a deal. "I sold my first item a few weeks ago, I sold a couple of items I was just getting ready to throw away," she said.
Safer Than Yard Sale, Bigger Audience
More and more people are buying and selling on Facebook. It's easier than eBay -- with its strict rules and seller fees -- and safer than Craigslist.
Sheila Meece started selling on Facebook last year, after some bad experiences elsewhere. "I'm leery of Craigslist," Meece said. "You hear about all the dangers and strangers. I'm not comfortable with that."
Now, though, she's becoming a pro of sorts in her local Facebook Buy-Sell-Trade group. She's currently unloading some furniture, a chandelier, a crystal vase, vintage bottles and jugs, and two old chandeliers.
Of course, Meece admits, she could always hold a yard sale.
But she hates to have strangers showing up at her house, and knows that items like her old tin toys might get her a couple of bucks at a yard sale. She knows from researching online that she could bring in a lot more money selling them to a bigger audience.
So Meece shared her tips for selling successfully.
- Search for a "Facebook Yard Sale" or "Facebook Buy Sell Trade" group in your area (different areas call their sale groups different things, so make sure you do several searches).
- Look for the new Marketplace icon at the bottom of your app or Facebook page in the days ahead.
- If it's a closed "Buy Sell Trade" group, ask a member to let you join. A closed group won't have as many possible buyers, but everyone in it has been vetted, so you don't have to worry as much about con artists or creepers.
- Join 2 or 3 groups, such as one for your neighborhood, one for your county, and if you want wider reach, one for the whole metro area near you. That way you can post to multiple groups of people at once.
- Then take several Instagram-style photos, and a do a thorough write-up. The write-up should have a good description of the item and its condition, while you want to post at least 2 or 3 good quality photos.
With many people obsessively checking Facebook every 10 minutes, Meece says, you should find an interested person soon.
How to Make the Sale
When someone contacts you, Meece says, find out if they are serious, then agree to a price. Don't lower your price too much for the first person you hear from.
Then, make sure they are trustworthy. Meece loves Facebook because you can then research your potential buyer. "You can pop onto somebody's profile, and can get a little idea who they are, where they are," she said.
If they seem to be safe, and the price is acceptable, arrange to meet outside a supermarket or gas station for maximum safety (unless it is someone you personally know, or a neighbor down the street). Some police departments even encourage Facebook and Craigslist hand-offs outside their police station.
First Sale Goes Well
Mary Jane Caleron was nervous with her first sale, but "the buyer checked out, and I made sure we went to a public place."
There, she made her first sale, of an aquarium and accessories.
Meece, meantime, has already made several hundreds dollars this year, turning her trash into other people's treasure. Her biggest sale was a pair of vintage railroad lanterns that she sold for $175. She says she would have been lucky to get $40 for them at a yard sale.
If there's no Facebook selling group in your neighborhood or town yet, expand to your county, or just the entire area. And remember to look for both Yard Sale groups and Buy-Sell-Trade groups (which seem to be more popular).
Chances are you won't have to travel far to find one, you'll be able to sell your stuff, and you don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.
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