eBay started the online selling craze in 1995. The first item sold was a broken laser pointer to a man who collected broken laser pointers. As the saying goes, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” In more recent years, sites like Craigslist have helped people connect locally to sell their wares. Now, many Facebook users are taking advantage of online selling communities to make a little money – much like an online garage sale.
Mommyhood 101 Swap & Sell is a very active Facebook group for moms looking to part with baby gear and clothes, kid toys and anything else other moms might find useful. Amy Kennedy is the volunteer administrator for the group and she moderates users, helps resolve disputes and makes sure that the selling and swapping on the site is running smoothly.
“Shopping for deals from home or work make these swap sites so appealing. Our swap group is centered around babies, children and maternity. Moms, new or seasoned, love a good deal. Big items like pack and plays, cribs and exersaucers always sell quickly. Maternity clothing too,” says Kennedy.
Tricia Cartledge started the Macomb County Online Garage Sale Facebook group as an alternative to using Craigslist for selling her stuff locally.
“I started it as a place for friends of friends to sell their stuff, but it kept growing. There are now almost 18,000 people selling and buying things on Macomb County Online Garage Sale,” says Cartledge. “When I started out, I was making about $100 a week selling stuff. I’ve also gotten a ton of stuff for my kids from other people.”
Making the sale
There are many Facebook selling sites in various areas. Some cover specific communities, while others are open to anyone in southeast Michigan. Cartledge says to search for Facebook groups that are close enough to make the sales worthwhile.
Kennedy provides some advice for making sure the items draw a lot of attention and hopefully sell quickly.
“The sellers should always include the brand, size, price and a true, detailed description of the item. If there are any flaws, they should let the buyer know up front,” Kennedy says.
She says writing a product description is important, too. “Examples: $3, size 2T Old Navy black leggings, good condition with some slight piling on the knees or $15 for a Little Tykes Turtle Sandbox, 1 year old with fading from the sun. Always include a well-lit picture.”
Pricing is often an area where sellers struggle.
“I can’t really give recommendations on pricing. Just make sure to do a little homework before buying or selling on swap sites. I think if you’re selling a stroller that’s seven years old and all three of your children have used it, the price should reflect that. We all know that the stroller costs $200 when it was new, but it’s not worth that anymore. I’d personally sell something like that for $15-20,” says Amy Kennedy.
“Lots of people want top dollar for their stuff,” says Cartledge, but she says it’s important the description can back up the price and the quality can be demonstrated.
When a buyer is interested in something, Cartledge says they should comment on the item, indicating they are interested. She also recommended that they follow up by sending the seller a private message of interest.
With so many selling sites available, many posters try to put their items on multiple sites at one time, hoping for a quick sell.
“In my opinion, it causes more of a problem. Buyers get their hopes up when they see that they are first ‘in line.’ When the seller comes back and says that the item is sold on another site, buyers get upset. I think it’s better to post your items on one site. Give your items a chance to sell, if they don’t, remove them and post in a new swap site,” says Kennedy.
When it comes to buying or selling, Cartledge says to make the trade in a public place.
“Meet in a public area. Never go to someone house, especially alone, to buy or sell an item,” Cartledge says. She uses a party store parking lot near her house.
When a swap or sale doesn’t go exactly as either party would like, there are ways to handle it. Much like a garage sale, it’s buyer beware. Check out the product, ask questions and realize that it’s nearly impossible to get a refund.
If buyers or seller experience trouble, they can also contact the site administrators. Mommyhood sellers contact Kennedy.
“I prefer the sellers and buyers to handle their own issues, although some people are more comfortable with me being the middle man. With this being said, I don’t always agree with how they settle their problems. We are all adults and I can only hope they make good decisions,” says Kennedy.
Cartledge is often in the middle of the situations as well. She says she primarily deals with a buyer or a seller not showing up at a meeting spot. Occasionally she will have a seller trying to sell knock-off products or something that is broken. She will delete many of the users who can’t follow the rules, but she also says there are “bad swapper” lists and encourages buyers and sellers to use them to list those who should be avoided.
“The Facebook garage sale-type groups are a great concept. We just want everyone to try and be fair and honest and keep it a great way to buy or sell used good,” says Cartledge.