Online yard sales probably won’t replace the real thing anytime soon. There's nothing quite like a treasure hunt in the early morning air. But, an online yard sale is a fantastic alternative when it's too cold for traditional yard sales—or when you need a 2 a.m. vintage shopping fix.
Local vs. National Online Yard Sales and Flea Markets
With local online yard sales, you can see and touch the merchandise before any money changes hands. But, because the transactions take place in person, you do have to be cautious. Ideally, make the exchange in a public, well-lit location. When that's not possible, just don't meet alone, whether you're the buyer or seller.
Shopping a national online yard sale (such as a Facebook group for buying and selling a certain type of merchandise) makes sense when you're looking for something specific, such as a piece to add to a collection. Shipping costs are the downside for buyers. As a seller, a site with a wider reach lets you charge higher prices for valuable pieces.
For both types, take time to learn the lingo before you start shopping. Online flea markets and yard sales have their abbreviations, terms, and acronyms.
Facebook Online Yard Sales
Once it became more common to use Facebook than not, Facebook online yard sales exploded onto the secondhand shopping scene. Though the groups usually serve a designated local area, many areas have more than one.
To find the groups where you live, go to your personal Facebook page and type the following into the Facebook search bar:
- [your town] online yard sale
- [your town] online garage sale
- [your town] virtual yard sale
- [your town] yardsale (some groups use yard sale as one word)
- [your town] resale
- [your town] swap meet
- [your town] vintage
- [your town] furniture for sale
Then, go back and do the searches again after replacing your town's name with your county, your neighborhood, your subdivision, and your greater metro area. After you've joined a group or two, Facebook will suggest similar sites (new and existing) you might want to join.
The permitted merchandise types and the process for listing and claiming items are determined by the groups' admins. For example, a group may permit only home furnishings and require the seller to give preference to the first person who types "want" into the comment box under the item photo.
The groups vary. When you join, read the rules before attempting to buy or sell.
Though not specifically an online garage sale site, Craigslist's buying and selling features let it function as one. In many areas, it's frequently used for selling and shopping for used furniture. And, even though Craigslist is used all over the world, you can limit your search to your city or major metro area.
The seed for VarageSale was planted when founder Tami Zuckerman got frustrated with the online garage sale groups on social media. She decided she could do better—and VarageSale now has more than a million users. Though international in reach, VarageSale is divided into local area groups. Unlike Facebook online yard sale sites, VarageSale only permits one group per geographical area. If there is no group where you live yet, you can start one.
Lots of people know about shopping on Etsy for original artwork and handcrafted items, but many sellers offer charming vintage and repurposed items as well. It serves well as an online flea market and yard sale.
If you're still learning to tell the trash from the treasure, Etsy is an excellent option. Some of the most creative people around have already vetted the goods for you.
You’ll pay more on Etsy than you might at a traditional yard sale, but there are good deals to be had. And, unlike eBay auctions, you don't have to wait until the auction ends and hope you've bid the highest. The price you see is the selling price.