Do you know how to sell things? You should. Because sooner or later, everyone needs to sell something. It might be as simple as Girl Scout cookies, that ugly couch from college that knows too much, your home or your car. Selling is an essential element of commerce. Businesses live or die based on their ability to sell.
But if you run a household or are an aspiring Minimalist, you need to be able to sell too. Because at some point you are going to find yourself in possession of things that you just can’t use. You probably have some tweener items squatting in your home right now that are too nice to throw away and too nice to give away.
I did. As a marketing professional I was very curious to find the best way to sell such things. So I performed my own experiment. I tested three different channels. I tried selling in-person and online. I also tested a new platform. The results were surprising. Like Macaulay Culkin-using-aftershave surprising.
The Garage Sale
We recently moved into a new home and had some things that didn’t work in our new space. It was nice stuff. But it was Bruce Jenner-ish in a Caitlyn Jenner world. The people we bought our house from also left a few unique items in the house that were more them than us. So they had to go too.
Our subdivision was having a whole-neighborhood garage sale. We were garage sale virgins. But we decided that the Westchester Lakes All-Neighborhood Garage Sale would be our first. However, our first time wasn’t the greatest. It rained, which hurt traffic (the rain didn’t actually hurt the people). We sold a lot of toys, clothes and decor. But we didn’t sell our bigger furniture items. Which was what we were most interested in offloading.
The Digital Experiment
When the final bell sounded on our garage sale we still had a bedroom set, a formal chair, an end table, a large doll house and a set of bar stools that needed to go.
So we moved to Plan B.
I decided the best option was to post our things online. I have sold many random things on Craigslist. Including a car, a swing set and 5 counter tops. But I was curious about how significant some of the new Sell-Your-Stuff-Here platforms had become. So I decided to have a sell-off between Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. I called Pay-Per-View to see if they wanted to cover the rumble. They declined.
I started with the bedroom set. There was a white dresser with mirror, end table, headboard, footboard and side rails. I posted it with the same photos and same description on both sites.
The posting on Craigslist was good. I used their mobile app. It was quick, clear and easy. It didn’t take me long to get it posted. It generated three inquiries the first day. I had 12 people respond to the Craigslist posting over 3 days. I was very pleased. Craig and his list had lived up to my previous expectations.
This was my first time using The Marketplace. It walks you through a 4-step process that makes it moronically simple to list your items. My post was live in no time. But what came next was a total surprise.
Almost immediately the responses flooded in like Harvey in Houston. I had 48 responses in 48 hours. I responded to each inquiry quickly, and had to determine how to prioritize the request to see the items.
That was actually my biggest problem. Because the first person needed 24 hours before she could come see the bedroom set. Then she didn’t show. And neither did the second in line. The 3rd came but it wasn’t quite what she wanted for herself (it was really more of a kid’s bedroom set, and she was looking for a set for herself).
But the second person to come see the set snatched it up and we were done. I was able to declare the buyer on The Marketplace and signal that the item had been sold with just 2 clicks.
Following that Joey Chestnut-like feeding frenzy, I posted the doll house, chair and end table on the Facebook Marketplace too. All of them sold within 24-hours with serious interest across the board.
I had listed the bar stools twice on Craigslist over the past 12 months and they didn’t sell. I listed them for a significantly higher price on the Facebook Marketplace and sold all five for my asking price, with 2 backup buyers to spare.
The Facebook Marketplace is a force to be reckoned with for online selling. Both individuals and businesses should take notice. People are already spending a ton of time on Facebook. So sellers are fishing where the fish spend their leisure time. Whereas Craigslist is where the fish swim when they need an end table.
The Facebook Marketplace could be huge. It may be Facebook’s equivalent to QVC or The Home Shopping Network, or bigger. So the next time you have something to sell go where people are killing time and are happy to find a killer deal. You’ll be happy you did. As for me, I am just happy to have my garage back before the snow flies.