— The hunt for the best garage sale bargains isn’t
in the driveway anymore.
where you’ll find deal-seekers stretching the
summertime ritual of neighbors selling to neighbors into
a new year-round tradition.
and eBay have long offered online marketplaces for
people to hawk their junk. But some expert garage salers
have found a more comfortable option in the many
Facebook groups that recently began spreading across the
massive social network. These group pages, some of which
number in thousands of members, resemble online
neighborhoods where friends bump into friends in search
of sought-after goods. From New Prague to Andover to
Alexandria, they sell everything from furniture to
looking for a deal and everybody has extra stuff,"
said Jen Fahrmann, who runs the Dakota County MN Swap
& Sale Group, which has more than 1,300 members on
Facebook. "If you can sell it at a garage sale, you
can sell it on the site."
real benefit, Facebook users say, is the ability to
check out buyers’ and sellers’ public Facebook
profiles, maybe even spot a mutual friend. While there’s
no guarantee that people are honest on Facebook, that’s
still reassuring to some, given high-profile crimes that
have been linked to Craigslist transactions.
can get a feel for the person," said Amber Lynch of
Blaine, a member of about 20 online garage sale groups,
mostly in the northern suburbs.
online sales work like this: Someone sets up a Facebook
group, usually aimed at residents of a city and nearby
areas, and approves requests from other users to join
(joining is free). Once someone is a member of the
group, they can post pictures and descriptions of items
they want to sell.
interested in the items contact the seller by commenting
on the post. Then, usually by private message on
Facebook, the seller and buyer agree on a public place
to exchange the items for payment. Once an item is gone,
the seller updates or deletes the online post.
can also post queries when they are "in search
of" particular items.
recently used that tactic to score a new wardrobe for
her 3-year-old daughter. Within 10 minutes, other
Facebook users responded to her post, and for about $20
she received a couple of Gap sweaters, some blue jeans,
Hello Kitty sweatpants and winter boots.
and shoppers make such deals at their own risk, but
Lynch said she’s never had a bad experience.
someone is a no-show or they get a bad review, you can
tell the (administrator) of the page and they won’t be
able to sell or buy," she said.
administrators are volunteers with limited recourse if
transactions fall through, except to banish misbehaving
Novotny, who runs New Prague Sales and other groups,
said it rarely comes to that because people
participating in the sales get to know each other. If
there is drama, it’s usually because someone forgot
about a rendezvous or violated a group rule.
love the fact that so many of our community members shop
on this garage sale site," she said.
community connection is particularly helpful for sites
that serve smaller towns like New Prague, which might
not have a critical mass of local people posting items
to Craigslist. Facebook garage sale sites in larger
cities count thousands of members.
lot of people don’t have the time to set up real
garage sales or they don’t have enough items for a
real garage sale," Novotny said. "This gives
them the opportunity, too."
are often a bit higher than they would be at a
traditional garage sale, but aficionados say they’re
willing to pay for convenience — shopping the sites is
easier and quicker than cruising random garage sales
with kids in tow. People selling items also bump the
prices up to cover gas for the meetup.
example, "Goosebumps" books priced at 25 cents
each at a summer garage sale fetched $1 apiece online,
said Jamie Hultman of Andover, Minn., who runs the Anoka
County Online Garage Sale. She’s seen everything from
purses and clothes to tools and motorcycles posted on
are people out there looking for specific items,"
she said. "You can ask a little more pricewise."
the Facebook groups are growing in popularity. Hultman
gets daily requests to join her group, which has more
than 1,300 members.
love garage-saling," Hultman said. "Especially
the way the economy’s been and everything, people want
stuff for dirt cheap."
TO BUYING/SELLING ON FACEBOOK
a crowded online marketplace, veteran sellers offer
these tips for making sure your unwanted wares catch
shoppers’ attention on Facebook.
a Facebook garage sale. Log onto the social network and
search: city or county name, plus the words "garage
sale" or "swap and sale." (One might not
exist in your area.)
the rules. Most online Facebook garage sales include a
permanent post near the top of the page explaining the
rules for posting, updating and deleting items. If you
ignore the guidelines, the site administrator might kick
you (and your items) out.
a good photo. People like to see what they are getting.
If you want to show the item from multiple angles,
create a photo album rather than posting pictures
details. A great picture of a cute red dress will only
get you so far. What size is it? What brand? Is it in
a price. While there’s often room to negotiate,
bidding wars can be tricky to manage through Facebook
the "other" inbox. That’s where Facebook
files messages from people who aren’t official
"friends." Inquiries from buyers will likely
end up there.
careful. Even though Facebook profiles offer an extra
layer of intel about people, it’s best to meet buyers
in public places.
up after yourself. Site rules vary, but most ask sellers
to update or remove posts once items have sold.