Secrets of ‘The Swap’

Buy, sell and save on maternity and baby gear through online swaps.

PPU, POOS, ISO, NIB, EUC. These are the acronyms of the savvy swapper. For the record, they stand for Porch Pick Up, Posted On Other Sites, In Search Of, New in Box and Excellent Used Condition. In the age of social media, online swaps represent garage sales 2.0.

Where and why

Bridget Doerr, a mom of four from Bloomfield Township, first began using Facebook swap sites and even Craigslist to buy and sell baby and toddler clothing and gear several years ago. She became so skilled at selling her own kids’ things, she began helping family and friends do the same.

Nowadays, Doerr runs an in-home consignment service assisting friends and neighbors in selling via online swap.

“When expecting your first kid, you want it all to be new,” she laughs. “You can’t imagine using someone’s old stuff for your new baby. But by the time you’re expecting your fourth, you’re adamant you won’t buy anything new.”

Foot in the door

Doerr encourages expectant and new parents to check for Facebook mom swaps in their local community, indicating they’ll likely need to request to join the group – as most are typically closed.

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“The main restriction is usually location,” Doerr explains, noting that the Birmingham/Bloomfield/Beverly Hills mom swap she regularly buys and sells on is mainly comprised of residents of those three communities.

“If you’re all in the same community, you know it will be easy to get to each other,” she says.

The swap scene

From baby clothes, strollers and cribs to toys and books, the range of items bought and sold on these online swaps is vast.

“Your eyes will be dazzled,” Doerr says. “It’s not junk. There’s brand-new stuff every day as well as truly excellent used items at a fraction of the price you’d pay for them new.”

Typically, a seller posts a photo and a short description of an item she wants to sell, including price. Then it’s fair game for members of the group to comment on the post – typically by simply replying, “Interested.”

Upon joining a swap, Doerr recommends members first read the pinned post at the top of the group page. “Typically, it will outline the site rules and list the group administrators.”

The admins generally are the individuals who’ve set up the page and monitor the group to ensure everyone’s sticking to the rules. The admin can remove members who violate the rules.

Getting that gear

On most online swaps, the first person to express interest in a post gets first dibs. Commonly, sellers agree to a porch pick up where the buyer simply comes to the seller’s home and retrieves the item off the porch, leaving the money in a spot the buyer designates – which could be under the front porch mat or inside a storm door, for example. Doerr notes most police stations welcome buyers and sellers to make their exchanges in parking lots or lobbies for an extra dose of precaution.

Doerr recommends this to buyers she interacts with – particularly when the item of interest is being sold for more than $100. In this case, she meets the person in a public, well-lit area during daytime hours.

Swappers can save quite a bit of money, Doerr says, noting that she paid $20 for her son’s Patagonia jacket that retailed new at $120.

Bottom line

Most of the online swaps Doerr relies on for buying and selling don’t allow haggling.

“It’s somewhat frowned upon to negotiate,” she says, adding she regularly peruses other sites to see what the item she hopes to sell is going for.

Doerr has had almost exclusively positive experiences buying and selling via Facebooks swap.

“It’s almost always women with whom I am interacting,” she says.

Doerr sees the use of online swap sites as a no brainer.

“You can literally save a fortune,” she says.

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