“How much for this?”
“Ten dollars. It’s real silver.”
“Will you take two?”
Garage sale offers like this always made me want to blurt, “Two what? Two goats? Two crates of eggs? Two dozen avocados? No. I said ten. Not ten shillings, not ten pesos, ten dollars.”
“How about five?”
And ‘round and ‘round we’d go, politely arguing in English or Spanish until said shopper talked me down against my will because I was afraid I wouldn’t get another offer but then I got mad that I caved because I could’ve gotten more on eBay or at a pawn shop but I don’t have time for that because I have kids and a job and I’ve been out here for six hours already and I don’t know why I keep doing these stupid garage sales.
Sooo much work! Especially for Type-A personalities who want bright, legible signs hung straight and secure within a one-mile radius, as well as organized displays with price tags on every item.
Why did I ever think it was a good idea to lovingly place everything on our driveway, hustle for two days while I sunburn my neck, and barter with strangers over junk I didn’t even want?
Ugh. What’s worse is that I’d recover from the drama and about ten months later my motivation reignited. And there I was again, walking around at five in the morning, wearing three layers and a fanny pack full of change, accidentally eating too many Costco muffins, and mumbling my exhaustion.
A few years ago I stopped the madness and switched to selling through two different online platforms: Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp. Here’s what I’ve learned:
- I will probably never do another garage sale. Ever.
- People buy the most random stuff, so I’m not shy about posting the most random stuff.
- Selling online feels like passive income. I take pictures, post the item, go to bed, and let the apps work for me.
Facebook Marketplace vs. OfferUp
You need a Facebook account in order to use Marketplace, but anyone can use OfferUp. I like them both and use them equally, but here are the pros and cons.
After your original post, you can renew once a week for five weeks! This is the biggest bonus on Marketplace and I use it to its full potential.
You can look at Facebook profiles. This comes in handy to get a feel for the person, but it also gives an added layer of security and holds them accountable because their post is linked to their profile.
You can join and post in ten groups. They’re free and easy to join, and when I post one item for sale it blasts out to ten different groups. More people = more exposure = more sales.
This green app with the white tag is faster and easier to use, but it doesn’t have as many perks. You can’t renew your posts unless you want to boost it for a fee, so if an item has been on there for more than a month, I delete it and repost fresh. Then it will be at the top again for everyone to see, instead of six miles down the feed. I still sell quite a bit through OfferUp, but not like Marketplace.
Let’s Get Down to the Nitty Gritty
The better your pictures, the better chance you have of selling. Daylight is WAY better than bulbs, so plan to take your pictures in full shade, indoors or out, no shadows.
When people take photos in their super-full garage, having a bike, skateboard, suitcase, beach chair, small fridge, Legos, flower pots, and VHS tapes in the picture is confusing. And annoying.
On the contrary, when I see a single, clean item on a cleared off table with a clean background, it looks attractive. And clean.
You’re allowed to use ten photos on each post. I think two or three pictures should be your minimum, making sure you get all the necessary angles so people don’t have to ask if you can upload a picture of the bottom… or the side… or the back.
And please, for the love of everything clear… no blurry pics!
The more details you include, the less questions you’ll get. I’ve learned this the hard way, but here’s what people always want to know:
“How tall/wide/deep/long is it?” (Unless you’re selling something that’s a universal size, like a golf ball or a VW bus, don’t assume people know how big or small it is.)
“Is it black or dark gray?” (If your photos give your item different shades based on the lighting, make sure to include the color in the description.)
“Any smokers?” (If I’m selling something with fabric, I always say, “Smoke-free home.”)
Also, use key words in your titles so when people search they’ll find you. Here’s one of my current titles: “NEW Father’s Day Men’s Wood Valet Brown Organizer with Charging Station.” I added the color, as well as key words for the season. Not necessary details, but it might get more hits as a result.
My two rules? Start high and be willing to come down. I always search for similar items before posting to see what they’re going for, then I list said item on the high end, knowing people are going to barter and try to talk me down. But quite often people pay the high price and never ask for a lower one. Umm… okay!
Make it Convenient for You
I only sell in the daytime, and only to men if my husband or large teenagers are home. If for some reason my people aren’t available to help me, I will meet the buyer at a nearby coffee shop so I feel safe.
If you don’t want to sell early in the morning or late at night, then don’t. One person asked to come before dawn, and one wanted info at 11 p.m. Uhh… no.
If you feel like you have to bend over backward to make the customer happy so you’ll get a sale, don’t forget that you hold the cards. If they truly want the item they’ll work within your guidelines.
If you’re a trusting person, this is a great route to go. Put the item by your front door, they show up whenever they want and leave the money under the mat. I’ve only done this a couple times, and only with cheap items.
Cash rules, but during Covid I used Venmo to avoid contact with people and their potentially gross bills. It’s a super self-explanatory app, free and easy to use, and extremely convenient. You can buy and sell within Venmo alone and it kinda feels like Monopoly money. I do not recommend using the feature that links it to your bank account.
Shipping & Delivering
Multiple people have asked me to ship items even though I don’t offer shipping. For a variety of reasons, I politely say no. I’ve missed out on a few sales this way, but it’s not worth my time to pack, ship, deal with possible broken items in the mail, returns, etc.
I’ve also had people ask if I deliver. If they’re far away I say no. If they’re within about five miles I say yes for a fee.
It’s not required, but it’s fast, easy and helps those of us who buy and sell regularly. It’s also great for accountability and reputation. Both apps will ask who you sold to, and all you have to do is click on their picture and give them between one and five stars, and they’ll do the same for you. Bam.
My kids poke fun at me for all my daily alarms reminding me to do things, but when the OfferUp app dings, we celebrate.
Nothing like reading, “Hi. Is this still available?” and, “May I come now?”
Decluttering the house and making money at the same time? Si, por favor!
Are you ready to start selling but still not sure? Ask me anything!
Do you already sell online? Share your secrets! I currently hover around 65 items for sale, and I’m always looking for more tips on how to get these goods gone.