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Trading Post

Online tag sales provide new take on the garage sale



“There’s money sitting everywhere in our houses,” says a friend gleefully during our daily phone conversation. It is a running discussion of some of the dollar totals we are collecting by selling our “stuff” on the Internet. This morning, my friend is experiencing what she called a “pre-transaction high.” After posting a few of her daughter’s unused princess costumes, a line of local Facebook buyers is growing. 

Not since the days of Halloween-candy trading have either of us had so much fun. Combing through our houses and calling each other on suggested pricing is productive and social. Getting paid to de-clutter is a great motivator to dive into closets and spring clean attics or kids’ rooms. The garage is the next thing on my list. 

My friend and I participate in a growing trend taking place in towns and cities all over the country—community-based tag sales posted on Facebook. As quaint, old-fashioned yard sales have begun to dwindle along with the thickness of the PennySaver, virtual yard sales, held online between members of local Facebook groups, are growing in popularity. 

While Craigslist and eBay are household names, navigating these large-scale sites can be overwhelming. And consignment shops, while another option for unloading higher-end clothes or furnishings locally, aren’t typically interested in taking small but useful household items; and they can take a bite out of profits—as much as 50 percent in commission. 

Facebook-group postings offer a friendlier outing, a virtual stroll, as it were, through a community yard sale. And with no fee for the transaction, both the buyer and the seller can benefit. 

In our security-conscious era, today’s consumers often feel more comfortable buying and selling things on the Internet in an arms-length transaction, where the push of a button delivers something swiftly to their door. Add to that the “green” aspect of re-using and recycling possessions between members of a local community, and it becomes easy to see why these community-based, Facebook tag sales are boasting thousands of active members. 

So, what are the components of a successful online tag sale? Just ask Stacey Winnick, founder and administrator of Chappaqua Moms Sales, a local, closed-page group of over 3,000 Westchester County residents in membership and a waiting list of 500. 

“This page is dedicated to the fashionista in all of us,” Winnick writes. She has zero tolerance for participants who don’t follow the rules—clogging the page by promoting personal businesses or posting items that are not allowed—including mattresses, hair products, endangered species, or anything not of high quality. She deals swiftly with negative offenders by deleting their posts or blocking them after warnings are ignored. With so many eyeballs, Winnick admits that keeping up with the task of manning this Facebook group has quickly become a second fulltime job. 

It is gratifying to know that each item that leaves my house falls into the hands of someone who is happy to receive it. My spirits lift and my wallet fattens, but the best story took place after I had been a member of the online group for just a few weeks. 

After a frozen, indoor pipe let go, some remodeling was in order. Lifting a hand-painted mirror from my daughter’s wall, I took a second look and realized she was all grown up. Her taste in mirrors extended to sleek, modern types like the one she had in her New York apartment. Snapping a photo, I listed the mirror on the tag-sale’s Facebook page and soon received a private message from an interested party. 

We arranged a meeting to conduct the transaction, and as I waited at the appointed time, a new message pinged on my phone. “So sorry,” my buyer typed, “I was on my way to you from a checkup at the doctor, and he says I am already in labor. Am headed to the hospital to have the baby. Please hold onto that mirror for me.” 

Mother and baby (a boy) are doing fine. I know this because after meeting to make the swap, she emailed me a photo of her baby sleeping in his crib—with my daughter’s mirror on the wall above him. The cycle starts again. 

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