Smart Tips for Buying and Selling on VarageSale

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smart tips for buying and selling on VarageSale

Spring is in the air — pollen and all. And spring means spring cleaning.

If your spring cleaning has included the “40 bags in 40 days” decluttering challenge, you probably have a pile of items that need to leave your house. Sure, you could throw them away or donate them — but why not see if you can get a little cash for them? Try posting a few items on VarageSale, a buy-and-sell site that lets you do business with trusted folks in your community. Each VarageSale community is community-based, and they’re run by local admins who approve each membership request to make sure all members are real people.

Here are my tips for selling success, including a few that will help you take advantage of VarageSale’s unique features.

Tips for Sellers

  • Include all the information in your ad that you would want as a buyer. How big is the table? Is that a full- or queen-size mattress? What brand is that coat? The more work a buyer has to do to find out the information she needs, the less likely she is to buy from you.
  • Be upfront about any damage or defects, and price accordingly. But don’t lowball yourself; if your pricing reflects that the item is in used condition, some minor signs of use are par for the course. No need to let a MacLaren go for $5 just because the wheels got a little scuffed — that’s just happens when you use a stroller!
  • Photos, photos, photos. It’s probably possible to have too many (good) photos of your item, but it would be pretty hard. Declutter the photo space so a buyer can focus on your item; get plenty of light; and clean up the item before you take the shot. Dust on a bookshelf or cat hair all over a cashmere sweater will turn a buyer off.
  • Proofread your ad, and write as if you’re selling something to your 8th grade teacher — that is, write clearly and professionally. You don’t need to be Hemingway, but if you aren’t careful in writing your ad, I’ll wonder if you’re been just as careless in taking care of your items.
  • With VarageSale’s system, buyers can easily see all your listings at once. So if you’re selling items separately that would go well together, mention them. “Rocking chair, $50. Coordinates well with the changing table listed separately; will sell them together for $75.”
VarageSale screenshot
VarageSale’s listings are set up like a Facebook news feed.

Tips for Buyers

  • Stick to the parameters the seller has outlined in the listing. If she says to call instead of email, do that. If she gives a phone number but says to only call before 8 p.m., do that. There’s no quicker way to get on someone’s bad side than to wake up her sleeping baby. This includes texts; I often forget that some people keep their phones by their beds with the sound on, and a midnight text will wake them up.
  • VarageSale lets you leave comments or ask questions directly on the item’s listing. When I’ve asked for information that other buyers might want as well — size, age, brand — I’ll do it on the listing. But if I want to negotiate on the price, I do it via private message. It’s a personal preference, but I figure it’s better to err on the side of caution here.
  • If you think you’ll need help getting the item into your car — or worse, if it won’t fit in your car — then make a plan ahead of time. Don’t surprise the seller by showing up with your SmartCar when you buy a massive credenza. Act like a grown-up — rent a U-Haul, borrow a friend’s truck, or offer to pay the seller extra to deliver it.
  • Bring cash. I know, I know, you never carry cash. But if you bring a check, you’re going to look like a scammer. PayPal might work, but give the seller the option to say no. You can’t go wrong with the green stuff — ask for a receipt if it’ll make you feel better.

Tips for Both Buyers and Sellers

  • Meet in a public place during daylight hours. This protects both of you.
  • Show up at the agreed-upon time. You have the other person’s contact information, so there’s no excuse to flake.
  • Stick to the agreed-up on price. (See a theme here?)
  • If you had a good experience, write a good review of the other person. VarageSale is different because of the person-to-person connection; you know that the people you do business with are real members of the community, and your reviews give other buyers and sellers confidence.

Have you tried buying or selling on VarageSale? Share your experience in the comments.

** Disclaimer: Columbia SC Moms Blog was compensated for this post, but all views and opinions are proudly our own.

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As a writer and editor, Marian Cowhig Owen made her living crafting – or at least striving for – perfect prose. But motherhood taught her quickly that there’s no such thing as a perfect parent. It’s a lesson she’s learning over and over every day. A Midwesterner by birth, Marian lived in North Carolina for 14 years before her husband’s job brought the family to Columbia in fall 2013. She and her preschooler have quickly found new favorite haunts in the Midlands, including Saluda Shoals Park, EdVenture and the Irmo branch library. In her spare time, this NPR junkie also sings, bakes and does needlework. She’s recently taken up running, with an eye toward her first 5K race in the fall. And as for that perfection she’s been seeking? Her Pinterest boards are very carefully curated.

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