Selling on Facebook Garage Sales – A New Experience

Have you ever tried selling your unused clutter? I finally joined the modern age and tried to sell on Facebook.

Our house is full of clutter. There, I’ve said it. We’ve been here nearly 20 years, and I obviously have problems throwing things away. Since discovering FIRE, I have taken the first step. I stopped bringing things into the house. I’ve said no to freebies. I place items that I’ve felt obligated to accept, straight into a box to give to charity. Before buying items, I consider how useful they will be. I think carefully how often we would realistically use them. It’s not fun to take a long hard look at yourself, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Still, this doesn’t help with the matter of clutter that we’ve already accumulated. I’m not about to go all Marie Kondo or Fritz from Retirement Manifesto* on everything we own, but it’s time to grow up and tackle it. I love the look of clean, clear spaces. I feel comfortable when everything has a place. Just like investing, I need to put the emotion aside and clear that stuff!

*Fritz had 30 years of stuff to downsize in 24 hours after selling his home in 7 days. I’m seriously in awe of his energy and dedication to their goal.

Why Don’t I Want To Sell on Facebook?

I’ve been meaning to begin selling clutter for 7 months now. I don’t know why, but I really resisted doing it (passive resistance, like I know I should, but I don’t want to). I was scared, and I’m still trying to figure out what was holding me back. It’s easy for me to take a photo. I’m a blogger so writing a quality description is a matter of a few minutes. People have ads all over Facebook groups, and quite frankly a lot of them are all but useless – yet things still sell! Thanks to Google I can quickly find the new price for items, and prices for what the second-hand market is selling it for. Even then, I’m not really doing it for the money – I just want to get it out of the house.

Terrible Facebook Garage Sale Ad - this guy doesn't know how to Sell on Facebook (or does it even matter?)
Don’t try to adjust your set… this is a serious ad. I can definitely do better than this.

I have a relative who has been side hustling like this for easily over a decade – before I even knew what a side hustle was. She started by selling baby stuff she owned on eBay, then would buy from all sorts of sources and sell on eBay and at local markets. These days she still buys things to sell, but it’s usually thorough Facebook groups. After talking to her, I realised that the worst that could happen is that the item doesn’t sell and I give it away! We’d already planned to give away whatever doesn’t sell, so it’s certainly no loss if someone talks me down on price or no-one buys anything.

Facebook Garage Sale Seller Being Rude To A Customer.
Then the seller took the time to be rude to a potential customer!

Is it a fear of failure? I know that I don’t like sales or selling in any way, shape or form. But maybe I am doing someone else a favour by giving them something that they really want, cheaply. Is it because I will need to conduct a transaction in person, face-to-face? I’ll have to hand over the goods and accept cash from them? It is a bit of this. I was not looking forward to organising when people come and pick stuff up.

Preparations

I started by taking a weekend to clean up three items, and photograph them. At the time I still had my 2G Nokia, so I took the photographs with a real camera. I can see how much faster and easier it would be to take a photo on your phone and list it directly. When I downloaded the photos, the only work they needed was cropping. I actually began to get a bit excited when I was crafting the advertisements during the week. It’s pleasing to see it all come together in a final, quality product. I gave a detailed description, including measurements. I also tried to anticipate any questions people would have, and answer them in my ad copy.

Kong Cat Toy I tried to sell on Facebook Garage Sales.
Poor unwanted cat toy.

The First Sale?

First thing Saturday morning I listed a dog bed, a cat toy, and a cast iron candelabra. I sold the dog bed within 45 minutes, with interest from a second person. I was a little excited – after all, this is a sizeable item that is taking up a lot of room. The buyer asked if they could pick it up on Thursday night. She asked me to Facebook message her the night before to make sure it was all still OK. I did this and… she didn’t show. She sent me a message saying she forgot (really?) and asking whether she could pick it up the next day in the afternoon. This is despite my ad saying pickup after 6pm weeknights.

Anyway, the next day turned out to be a day off work for me, so I set the time between 5-6pm. I then got a message at 3:50 asking if it was OK for her to come and pick it up now. Sigh. Yes, sure. As soon as I answered back she said great – once my partner gets home from work, I’ll be around. What? What?! Can I come now, but not now, now. You know. Now soon-ish. This is probably why I was hesitant to start this process in the first place. People. Ugh. I wasn’t surprised, though. I had seen enough Facebook ads with “no time-wasters” or “third time listed due to no-shows”. Well, she did finally show at about 6pm.

The transaction then was really easy. I gave her the bed, she gave me $30. Woohoo! That means $15 for Acorns and $15 for Ratesetter. Conservatively, that money will have doubled by the time I get to retirement. Thanks, Facebook Garage Sales.

Facebook Garage Sale Dog Bed Sold!
Woo hoo! My first ever sale.

No Sales

The cat toy and candelabra had no interest at all. I sat on them for the day, then the next day I deleted and re-listed (I don’t know if that is what you should or are allowed to do?) Later that day I then duplicated the listings in three other local groups. Facebook makes it very easy to do this. I just check in each morning and evening to see if there is any change. There really wasn’t anything, then the cat toy got a “like” on one of the sites. I’m not sure what that means – maybe the person is sort of interested? (I later found out that it’s a way of them following any activity on that item – if they like it, they will be notified of any changes.)

I decided to leave them for a week, then re-list again. In week three I dropped the price on two of the items. This stuff has been hanging around for literally years (our dogs passed away 5 years ago now), so I’m not in any real rush to have it sold. I do need to set a final not sold out-the-door date so they don’t hang around for another 5 years. One month should be long enough.

Four Facebook Garage Sale listings.
Four of my seven listings. Very easy to manage.

A Second Round

The next weekend I added 5 listings for suitcases we’d had forever. I listed one for $30, and I received a message asking whether I would accept $20. I replied back that I would and requested that the buyer comment “sold as discussed” on the public listing, while also questioning when the buyer would like to arrange to pick it up. She asked what location the item was at (despite having my suburb twice in the listing). After I replied, silence. I let her know that I was only happy to give out the exact address once I’d formally sold the item and arranged a pick-up date. I never heard back. Maybe I was being too formal? Or maybe it was my suburb. There’s a local joke that changes part of our suburb’s name to include the word “crime”…

I also received a message on a Friday night while I was at roleplaying, asking if someone could pick up the cat toy. Unfortunately I was out, and they weren’t able to make it at any other time. Due to their circumstances I actually offered to drop it off, but they weren’t local. That’s OK, we tried.

Bits of interest kept appearing. Someone would like my post. Someone would write “interested”. There seems to be a few definitions of why people comment this way. I decided that the definition from The Simple Dollar made the most sense – ““Interested” is essentially a placeholder, giving you a certain amount of time to ask the seller questions, see whether your spouse likes the item, or do some research on the purchase.” I’m not sure what I should do to encourage these people to close, if anything at all.

More Sales…

My second sale came as I was about to remove the suitcase listings. It was all straightforward and we arranged for the person to come and pick it up on Sunday before 11am. After learning from my first experience, I asked the buyer to send a FB message when they were leaving. It hit 11am and… nothing. I sent a message asking if they were still interested. 3 hours later I got a reply that they were, and were leaving now.

Blue Suitcase for Sale in Facebook Garage Sales

The third pickup was to occur on Sunday at 6pm. Essentially repeat the story above, but move the pickup to Monday night. Then Monday night became Tuesday. Again, I was the one chasing the buyer.

I find it really frustrating. Mr. ETT observed that we both see it as a point of pride to follow-up anything that we have said we will do. It’s obvious others don’t place the same level of importance on this. I also don’t care if they don’t want it or circumstances change. All I’m expecting is the courtesy of letting me know that they won’t be coming when they said they would.

I also wonder if it is the platform. There’s no consequence for being unreliable. No feedback. As a matter of fact, it really is buyer (and seller) beware. I guess in a way it is like the stock market. There are different levels of risk, and you have to decide whether the reward (money in the case of a seller) is worth the risk (inconvenience). For buyers, it’s whether the reward of cheap goods is worth the risk of being ripped off.

While I moan and groan, my total sales to date have been $55. That’s gone straight to Acorns/Ratesetter. I’ve also managed to clear some sizeable clutter, and I have found myself eyeballing items in each room. Can we get rid of that? What’s that worth?

Will I Continue to Sell on Facebook?

I applied to join 2 more local groups, but haven’t heard anything. Perhaps the admins aren’t very active (which I understand, I know I’m not). Also, I have my Facebook profile locked down so tightly with as little real personal information as possible, maybe I don’t seem trustworthy! Will I keep selling on Facebook? Yes. I don’t think I will ever be very comfortable doing it, but I know that discomfort is good for me. It really takes very little effort to list, and check in a couple of times a day. The effort comes when an item has been sold, but I guess that’s what I’m getting paid for. I may even investigate Gumtree as a second option. I know this will never interest me as a side hustle, though.

What’s your experience selling second-hand stuff? Are my expectations of behaviour too high? Any tips?

16 thoughts on “Selling on Facebook Garage Sales – A New Experience

  1. Oooh, interesting. I’ve found that my local Facebook selling groups kinda suck. It’s just a lot of MLM advertisements and, weirdly, people advertising lawn services. It’s soooo frustrating! I haven’t sold on there, but I’ve had similar issues selling on Craigslist. I definitely like how streamlined it is to sell on eBay and there’s no chasing people down.

    • I used to sell jewellery supplies on eBay years and years ago. Then came the great fee increase scandal and my margins were no longer worth it. I might consider it again for small, pricier items in the future. The great thing about FB is that there is no postage. Australia Post costs a fortune these days, and I can’t get to the Post Office during the week.

      What type of items have you had success in selling?

      I know what you mean about the MLM – I’ve been collecting some examples for a possible future post. It’s everywhere!

  2. Interesting post. Neither of us actually have a Facebook account (I know, we’re totally lame) so I’ve never tried selling on that platform. We do use Gumtree pretty often though. No shows are so annoying. I have bought a lot of stuff on Gumtree as well and anytime I wasn’t able to show I always informed the seller and they are always so appreciative. I guess no-shows are pretty common.

    We have had some stuff listed on Gumtree for almost a year. Last week we got a council pick up notice, so I told Poopsie to put the dresser we’d had on there into the council pickup. The very next day, we were contacted via Gumtree and someone came and bought it. Crazy! So if FB doesn’t charge you to keep something listed, you may as well because it may sell.

    • Facebook. Until I started selling, and joined the bloggers’ group, I only got on about twice a year. I should have ditched it years ago, but I rarely message the nephews and nieces through it, so I kept it. You are missing out on exactly nothing by not having an account.

      I’ve since looked at Gumtree, and it appears everything’s done by phone, is that right? I’m hopeless with my phone, I never hear or answer it, and I couldn’t be dealing with people while I’m at work. Disappointing to hear that no-shows seem common there as well.

      How good is it that you got money for the dresser? FB Garage Sales have a search function as well, but my primary reason for doing this is to get rid of the crap. I can’t keep it around, it needs to go. I think this is going to be a lifetime effort to get rid of it all!

  3. I’ve put a few things upon Facebook and gumtree and had similar experiences to you. Lots of no shows, or people changing dates. Asking for a discount, or just 1 item out of a set making the overall items less valuable/useless. I’ve decided not to go out of my way for people and if they don’t make the effort then I’m not desperate for the money.
    It is good when something sells and people actually show up.
    Keep going until you are happy with your level of clutter removed, though I agree, it wouldn’t be a full time business or even side hustle for me.

    • Not that I want it to be that way, but I’m glad it’s not just my experience!

      I learned pretty quickly that I can only handle having about 3 items live at a time (if I want to keep my bumping/re-listing schedule). Definitely not suitable for a side-hustle, but I have been appreciative of the money that’s come in.

  4. TheRetirementManifesto says:

    Thanks for the shoutout. It was a very hectic 24 hours of our lives, but the reward has been worth it!

  5. I’ve sold actively on Facebook before they implemented the selling system. It was a lot harder then! The selling system now makes it so much easier. Back then I mostly sold jewellery that I make. Nowadays, I have been selling any clutter in my house, from wedding dresses to makeup to furniture. I’ve easily made at least $1000 from Facebook sales just this year. We got rid of a single bed frame in April!

    The problem with these online sales are the no-shows. They are a waste of time and I now know to never plan my day around them. If they don’t show, I also don’t chase them. I just move on and sell it to the next person. Don’t despair if something doesn’t sell – a fellow business owner once told me that everything will sell, it just needs to wait for the right person to come along and buy it. I had a lipstick tower that I had listed on Facebook since April. It finally sold 2 weeks ago. So many no shows with this item!! I am so tempted to say that it’s because of the target market of the item (coughyoungirresponsiblegirls) but never mind. I don’t budge on my prices either. If I want to drop my price, I will, in my own time. Although I do sometimes offer a $5 discount if they come and pick it up that very day. That usually gets people hustling for the item.

    Removing clutter in this manner has been quite an ongoing project but very rewarding and quite therapeutic. I cross post to at least 10 different local buy sell groups. Sometimes people will offer a crazy low amount and I just laugh in their faces because how else do you respond to such rudeness.

    I think at the end of it, people suck. There are decent people around but the level of anonymity makes most people comfortable at being time-wasters. It sucks, but I will take it over having the stuff in my house. I do donate a fair bit as well and have donated furniture to the local women’s shelter and have 3 big boxes of makeup / skincare / haircare that is headed there next when I am able.

    • Thanks for such a comprehensive comment, Pia! That’s a significant amount of money you’ve made. I jump to conclusions about generic groups of buyers as well, although my experience at the moment is that men are reliable and women aren’t! (Based on n=5, not exactly statistically significant.) Also, I’m a woman. I’m reliable.

      Thanks for the idea of offering a discount if they turn up when they say they will. I’ll definitely employ that for any higher value pieces, because it really does peeve me when people don’t show. I’ve also realised that I need to determine the lowest price I am willing to sell for before I put the piece up for sale. I’ve been a bit blind-sided when people offer lower prices. I scramble and think “is that enough? Am I only considering it because they’ve offered it? Would I have sold that low if they hadn’t?” Now I have my selling price, and my lowest price all ready to go, so it is easier to say “no, thank you.”

      We’ve given away hundreds/thousands of dollars worth of stuff over the years. I’m just enjoying the chance to pull in a few dollars (knowing those dollars have a home in our investment accounts) before I walk it out the door. I’ll never achieve a minimalist utopia, but every piece that goes is one small step towards a clutter-free house.

      Glad to have found another jewellery-maker (although mine has gone by the wayside for the now, because I spend my time blogging instead.) This is an activity I will return to once I manage to stop trading so much time for money. Do you still make?

      • I have too many hobbies, haha. Jewellery making is one of them and unfortunately one that sits by the wayside now as I’m too busy with other hobbies! I used to make and sell at craft markets and travelled extensively for craft markets. At that time, it was my way of side-hustling!

        I’m with you, based on my sample size, the men have been 100% reliable and the women 100% not. I’m reliable too but there’s always exceptions to the rule ;p

        And yes! Every thing that walks out that door is definitely one less thing in my house. I can’t believe the amount of stuff we have accumulated over the years. But then again, I can. Because the husband refuses to let me throw anything out or even sell / donate anything. It’s taken years of slow persuading to allow this to happen.

  6. Oh I wanted to add – I love that you write a quality description for the item. I don’t bother anymore, because nobody reads the darn thing. I always get asked the same questions that the description would answer. So I figured that if somebody really wants something, they will either ask or they will come and get it regardless. My descriptions are now mostly one liners with dimensions.

    • I’ll still write the descriptions because I enjoy it, but I know what you mean. People definitely don’t read them. I’m glad you include the dimensions, because when I see ads without them I get huffy and think “I’m not chasing you if you can’t be bothered to tell me how big the item is.” Lack of other description I can handle, but size can be the determining factor.

  7. Congratulations! I’m actually a bit jealous. We haven’t sold anything online, although I’ve been meaning to do it for a while now. I think for us, it’s more of ‘what is there for us to sell?’ because we don’t have that many stuff. I think like you, we’re scared and worried that no one will be interested in whatever we’ll be listing. Also, my boyfriend gets attached to his things quite a bit. He doesn’t buy a lot of stuff, but when he does, he’d rather not dispose of them.

    Good luck and I hope you sell many more items!

    • J, I hear you about “what is there to sell”, but honestly I’ve been surprised about what sells and what doesn’t. Some of the items I thought would go for sure haven’t sold, whereas other stuff I’ve thought is ridiculous and no-one would ever buy it, have gone! Also, I’m only leaving it up for a month. If I did what Adventures with Poopsie suggested and leave it up for even longer, it would all probably go eventually.

      I feel for your boyfriend – letting go is difficult. The problem for us is that it built up and up, so I needed to face reality. It has to go! Don’t worry too much about whether it will sell. Pick a price, put it up and leave it. It will either sell, or you’ll decide you’ve had enough and give it away.

      • I agree about just leaving it up and it will eventually go. I’m not desperate for the money or have an urgent need to get rid of things to move house etc so I can afford to be patient. It has worked well.

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