Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Mommy Money Matters – Buy and Sell Sites


As my maternity leave recently ended and I couldn't return to work, I was looking for a way to bring in a little bit of money in advance of the expensive holiday season. Having already made many purchases through buy and sell sites and at mommy swaps for my daughter, I knew they were a good place to try to sell some unused but still useful things. In the last two months alone, I have made almost $800 using Kijiji, Craigslist, VarageSale, and a Facebook Buy and Sell group by selling things that had been taking up room in my spare bedroom for over 4 years.

Since I am no longer a novice when it comes to online selling, I thought I'd save you all the time and trip ups and give you some of my tips for getting the most out of the buy and sell site experience.

Tip #1 – It doesn't hurt to try!

This is a relevant tip for buyers and sellers alike. The worst thing that can happen is that someone says no; so ask if delivery is possible if you don’t have a car or ask to come look at the item before promising payment or haggle the price down a bit. On the flip side, it is savvy to list at a higher price than the lowest you’d accept for your own sale items because buyers are going to try to get the price down on your stuff, too. If you would prefer to sell all your board books as a lot – don’t feel pressure to break it up for people who ask, and if you only want one outfit from a clothing lot – ask if they’ll sell it to you separately. The point is: this is not traditional retail store shopping and you have control over the experience. Both parties get something out of the transaction (a steal on a pair of boots or some extra cash for holiday shopping, etc.) so everybody has to be willing to accommodate a little bit.

Tip #2 – Do some research

Regardless of which side of the transaction you’re on, it’s crucial that you make an effort to comparison shop. If you’re posting your items for sale, take some time to get a sense of how other people are pricing similar things. You don’t want to post it for too cheap and miss out on much needed money but you also don’t want to sit around for months without a bite because you over valued your item. Things can take on emotional meanings for us, but a stranger doesn't care that you nursed your three sweet babies in that glider – they just want a piece of furniture for a good price to make their own memories. As a general rule, find the average price for your item in comparable condition and price it 5% lower for a fast sale. Sometimes undercutting the competition by even a dollar or two helps you to stand out.

As a buyer of big ticket items, use online reviews to figure out if this product will meet your needs and check out what it sells for brand new. If someone is selling a used item, they should not be asking for 75% or more of the brand new asking price – no matter how excellent of used condition it is in! If it retails for $400 and they’re asking $350, you’re better off buying it brand new where you’ll get warranties and customer support and store guarantees. I know that good deals can go fast with many people looking to buy so be informed on objects you’re in the market for in advance and you’ll be prepared when one shows up on your feed. Don’t be afraid to state your interest immediately and then get into a conversation with the seller. If they can’t answer your questions (or you don’t like the answers) they can move on to the next person. No harm, no foul.

Tip #3 – There’s no place like home

Buy and sell sites are only as strong as the communities they serve. Transactions are easier, faster, and safer if you stick to your own neck of the woods. As a buyer, you may find what you’re looking for at an amazing price by casting your net very wide, but how reasonable is it to search for a stroller in a city 3 hours away by car? Remember, the onus generally falls on the buyer for pick up. When you consider hassle and gas money – it’s not as good of a deal. Many sellers want a quick transaction, too, especially when they've priced it for a fast sale. They won’t be willing to hold it until you can get out to them in two weeks. Hold out for a posting closer to home. Save yourself the heartbreak, and don’t even scour the postings from areas outside of your community.


On the selling side, it works to your benefit to build a good reputation in your community. People talk, and you want them saying good things about you - like you price things fairly, you’re easy to contact for extra info, and your items are in excellent condition upon pick up. Also, to the point in the last paragraph – you don’t want to hold an item for 2 weeks for someone from out of town, turn down 3 other offers, and then have them change their mind on the day of scheduled pick up. You can't control if people from other communities contact you, but don't post your items all over the place hoping for a buyer because it may disappoint someone, and don't feel pressure to lower your price since the buyer is being put out by travel (I've been asked this more than once!). If they contact you from out of town, it's up to them to make their own travel arrangements and pay the originally agreed upon price!

Tip #4 - Manage expectations

Besides managing your expectations about how much money you will rake in selling your used things, honesty is the sellers best asset. If you're trying to sell something through an online marketplace, do yourself and everyone else a favour and put it all out there right in your description. If there is a scuff or a small tear, if it needs replacement batteries, or if it has a flat tire, go into detail about the condition from the get go. This helps make transactions more efficient (as you're not bogged down by individual questions), it helps your reputation (as you're seen to be honest and up front), and it limits aggressive haggling (as people know you've priced it a certain way because of the current condition). Don't make people come all the way to your house only to find that you neglected to mention missing pieces or obvious damages and don't wait for them to ask the right questions to get details out of you. There is a buyer out there for almost anything and creative / handy types can mend or re-purpose items if they know in advance that that's what they're buying. As a personal pet peeve - do not post a picture of an item with a disclaimer that it "just needs a good wipe down," wipe it down yourself. Clean up your items before you snap a picture and post it online to put the best foot forward. I just do not understand why people post dirty pictures with a promise to clean it before pick up...

As a buyer, the expectations you need to manage are your own. The reason you are getting such an amazing deal on the purse or exersaucer is because it is previously loved. Steel yourself against disappointment and know that even excellent used condition items may have a scuff or a missing sticker or a pull on the seam. If you want brand new in the box quality, you should look for other ways to save, such as coupons and flyer price matching. This isn't to say you have to settle for junk. Decide what condition is acceptable to you and know in advance what you're buying. It's also good to know that you may face some disappointment - a better deal on an item turns up in your feed 3 weeks after you buy it, a toy that retails with 6 balls only comes with 3, or a great pair of shoes just posted are 2 sizes too small for your feet...such is used shopping!

BONUS!
Here's a handy guide to buy and sell site shorthand so you can shop like a pro:

EUC - Excellent Used Condition
GUC - Good Used Condition
BNWT - Brand New with Tags
BNWOT - Brand New without Tags
BNIB - Brand New in Box
PF - Pet Friendly
SF - Smoke Free
SS - Straight Sale
OBO - Or Best Offer
ISO - In Search Of
PM - Private Message
BUMP - (This is to push a post back to the top of the feed)
SPPU - Sold Pending Pick-Up
NIL - Next in Line
POOS - Posted on Other Sites (or some will say cross-posted)

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