Living the Swap Life: Tips For Buying & Selling in Online Garage Sale and Marketplace Groups

Facebook B/S/T, garage sale, and swap pages are all the rage right now. With everyone Konmari-ing and working on their thrifty skills, who can blame us? I’m no minimalist, but I HAVE been trying to really pare down to quality items that we use and my favorite buy/sell groups have certainly helped with that. How can you do the same? Try some of these tips to finding swap nirvana… and maybe even meet some new friends (something we all know can be hard to do as adults!)

Ask Friends

Employ your friends list to help you find active and friendly groups. Don’t be afraid to ask them what their favorite groups are. Most groups I’ve found through an area search have been duds or just not my speed. I’ve also met so many wonderful mamas and women through these groups- ones I invite over for playdates and celebrate birthdays with!- and seen such wonderful acts of kindness- one woman offering an extra lasagna to a working mama who might need a fuss-free dinner that night, drives for winter clothes and items for the homeless and water for Flint, offers to pick up items for other members.

Don’t be afraid to go outside your neighborhood

The best group I’m in isn’t anywhere near my house! But, with my commute route, I can travel that way a couple times a week. I offer to deliver items I sell, which most people take me up on, and a friend I met though the group has offered to let me use her porch if a buyer outside the area needs to pick up. For things I buy, I try to schedule all my pick-ups for the same day and just work my way through that neighborhood on my way to or from work. I’m in another group near my work and use my lunch hour to make trips for that one.

Utilize ISO and LTB for Buying AND Selling

Wanting something really specific? Post and ISO (In Search Of) or a LTB (Looking to Buy). You’d be surprised how often these are filled! Also, when others in the group know you are looking for something, they’ll keep their eyes peeled and tag you when that item comes up. Alternately, when you see ISOs, you might realize a good chance to destash items around your house you aren’t using without much effort.

Learn the lingo

Did I lose you with ISO and LTB? Just wait until you see all the other abbreviations! Like “Bump” just means a seller is trying to get their post to the top of the listing to get more views. See the 10 most common ones, written up by com.

Follow the Rules and Basic Etiquette

Most groups have a pinned post with rules; check it out before starting to buy or sell, since each group is a little different- though most have the same basic rules of no auctioning or skipping people in line are common in almost all groups. I also firmly believe that these groups are a right and not a privilege and that most people are trying to do the right thing; I give the benefit of the doubt in most cases of confusion or unfairness and avoid doing business with those who don’t seem to do the same. But to avoid such issues, be clear about your intent or interest, try to pick up as quickly as possible or be practical about when you can meet, and communicate! Remember that people make mistakes and try to be flexible.

Think About Your Purpose

If you really want to get things out of your house, be honest in your descriptions, price accordingly, and consider offers. So many times I get wrapped up in what I think I should get for an item I’m selling and turn down an offer which would get that item out of my house over just a few dollars! At the same time, you’re under no obligation to accept an offer you don’t find acceptable. Alternately, it’s okay to offer a lower price if a listing says MMAO (Make Me an Offer) or OBO (Or Best Offer), but be conscious about low balling- do your research on an item.

Be Safe

Many communities offer areas for public meet ups, including the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, which offers six “Online Purchase Safe Zone” locations, Westfield Police Department, Carmel Police Department and Brownsburg Police Department.

Safe Zones are available at the following locations except on holidays:

North District IMPD Headquarters, 3120 E. 30th St., Indianapolis
Lobby: Monday – Friday, 8:30 am – 5 pm.
Parking lot zones available 24-hours in the north parking lot.

East IMPD District Headquarters, 201 N. Shadeland Ave., Indianapolis
Parking lot zones available 24-hours outside of door #1.

Southeast IMPD District Headquarters, 1150 S. Shelby St., Indianapolis
Lobby: Monday – Friday, 8:30 am – 5 pm.

Southwest IMPD District Headquarters, 551 N. King St., Indianapolis
Lobby: Monday – Friday, 8:30 am – 5 pm.
Parking lot zones available 24-hours.

Northwest IMPD District Headquarters, 3821 Industrial Blvd., Indianapolis
Lobby: Monday – Friday, 8:30 am – 4 pm.

Downtown IMPD District Headquarters, 39 W. Jackson Place, Indianapolis
Lobby: Monday – Friday, 7:30 am – 4 pm.
Metered parking spots are available near the building.

Westfield Police Department “Safe Place”
Public Safety building, 17535 Dartown Rd., Westfield.
Lobby: Monday – Friday 7:30 am – 4 pm. Front foyer is open 24-hours.

Brownsburg Police Department
Parking lot or lobby.
Please call ahead during normal business hours or to ask questions (317) 852-1109 ext. 2138 or 2127.

Carmel Police Department
3 Civic Square, Carmel
Two parking spaces located directly in front of the police department with 24/7 video surveillance.
VIN or serial number checks may be provided during normal working hours only M-F 8 am-4:30 pm.

Need more tips and ideas for selling? I love this article from Man Vs. Debt. Lastly, remember to follow your gut; if you have an off feeling about something, trust it. In the end this is one big garage sale!


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