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How To Buy And Sell Like A Pro On Facebook

Facebook Marketplace isn’t just a good spot to find items—there’s money to be made, too.

There are two big bruises on my shins and deep ones forming on my hip bones. They’re pretty gnarly to look at, but I’m not mad about them. I got them schlepping two vintage leather and chrome Marcel Breuer chairs that I bought a block away from my apartment. They’re my latest Facebook score at $20 a piece (I know!). Once I got them home, I set them up in my living room, draping one with a pristine, oversized sheepskin from the ‘80s, purchased on Facebook a couple weeks earlier.

In an age where everything is literally at our fingertips and with a planet that is struggling to sustain us, it’s easier and more important than ever to buy used. In 2018, Facebook launched Marketplace, a friendlier version of Kijiji or Craigslist. With more than 800 million users monthly, it’s an easy spot to source furniture, small  and large appliances, clothes for all ages, housewares and all the random things you never knew you needed. Here’s your handy cheat sheet to buying and selling on Facebook:

Selling tips

So, you Marie Kondo’d and decided you have some stuff to sell, that’s cool. Here’s how to move it. 

What to sell on Facebook Marketplace

The world is your oyster here, people. Lightly worn, good condition clothing (your kids grow out of their stuff after one wear—make some money off of them for a change.), housewares, that birthday gift you don’t want, your still-working hairdryer, that futon no one sleeps on anymore, the throw pillows you want to swap out, dish sets, the plant you keep neglecting! The limit does not exist (well, I mean, really it does, let’s not do anything illegal, K?).

Consider your time and effort, though. If selling a $5 to $10 item is too much trouble, throw it in the donation bag.

How to price

This is important. Unless you have something REALLY amazing (you might think some weird tchotchke is the best, but we’re talking universally awesome items here), you have to price your stuff appropriately if you want to move it. A good rule of thumb is about 30 percent of what you paid for a nearly-new item. For vintage pricing, do a little research on Etsy and price a bit lower. By all means, make reference to how much it goes for on Etsy to promote your deal (#hustler).

Photos

No one wants to see a sweatshirt haphazardly draped on your unmade bed. You’re much more likely to move your items if you take good pictures in natural light. Remove distracting items from the background and take a few snaps to show different angles and any damage/imperfections worth noting.

Shorthand decoded

You might have seen some posts with random acronyms. They have meanings:

NWT = New With Tags
PPU/SPPU = Pending Pick-Up/Sold Pending Pick-Up
ISO = In Search Of
PPU = Please Pick Up (which translates to, don’t ask me to meet you somewhere, K?)
EUC = Excellent Used Condition (make sure your item is like-new if you use this abbreviation)
GUC = Good Used Condition (your item should be in good condish with no major flaws.)
NH = No Holds (which means come pick it up soon, or it will go to the next person interested)

Buying tips

Buying is less work than selling, but there are still things to keep in mind.

Do your research

Whether you’re buying or selling, it’s important to know the fair value of the items you want to buy or sell. Etsy and eBay are good resources to suss out fair prices for vintage items. And head over to Amazon to peep reviews on that air fryer someone just posted.

How/when to haggle

There is a time and a place to haggle. Flea markets or Kijiji are fair ground to barter, in my opinion. People may try to offer less on FB, but as a general rule, don’t do it, it’s tacky. There are exceptions to this rule, though. If something is WAY overpriced, damaged (and wasn’t described as such), if you’re buying a lot of items from one person or travelling a fair distance to pick it up, you can sometimes work out a deal. You’re not the worst if you try to lowball people, but try to be chill with it.

Inspect

Just because you showed up to buy something doesn’t mean you HAVE to take it. Give items an inspection for holes, smells and general signs of wear and tear. If something isn’t what you thought it would be in person, don’t feel bad about passing on it.

Don’t miss the perfect item by turning on keyword notifications

If you’re after a teak dining table, a bike or some bougie scooter for your kid, turn on notifications for the item. You can add keywords like “teak,” “pottery,” “MCM,” “kids clothes” or whatever you’re searching for. FB will send you a notification each time your keyword pops up.

Get to know your inbox


Facebook Messenger can be a little weird sometimes. If someone messages you independently of the ad (meaning, they didn’t use the ad’s reply button), their DM may have slid into your other folder, known as Message Requests. To access, click the two people at the bottom middle of your inbox screen, then click a black speech bubble at the top right. Clicking this will reveal a whole bunch of messages you didn’t know you had. Try to always message through the ad, that way your message is never lost in someone’s request folder.

Be a decent human

Your time is important—so is the seller’s. Everyone is busy, but flaking without notice or five minutes before meet-up time isn’t cool.

Porch pickups

This is a popular way to do transactions. The item is left on the porch and money can be dropped in the mailbox or e-transferred (reserve this method for people you’ve sold to before). Be leery of this as we’ve all seen the doorbell videos of people snatching up packages. If it’s a cheap item, whatever. But for anything pricy, it’s best to make time to meet face-to-face. Meet outside or in a public space if anything feels weird.

Buyer beware

Buying used isn’t the same as shopping at Walmart, so make sure you properly suss the item you want before committing to a transaction, since you likely can’t contact the seller and ask for a refund or exchange. Some sellers won’t let you try on items ahead of purchasing due to time, safety or space issues. Unless you know the person or have dealt with them in the past, don’t send an email transfer ahead of nabbing your goods.

Noteworthy

When you post to Marketplace, Facebook shows your post to all your friends. So, maybe reconsider uploading that well-intentioned Christmas gift from your mom (awkward). Most neighbourhoods have buy-and-sell groups that are private or, if you plan to sell a lot, make a Facebook account exclusively for your wheeling and dealing.

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