When we moved into our new house my wife and I vowed to keep our home clean and clutter-free. We’re not minimalists, exactly, but the last thing we wanted was a basement or garage full of stuff we don’t need or use.
We’ve kept up that promise, for the most part, but as our kids grew up and out of their infant and toddler stages we ended up with a lot of quality items lying around that no longer had a place in our home.
A garage sale or yard sale sounded like a lot of work, and frankly, in today’s digital age, we knew that we could make money selling our stuff online in the secondhand economy.
A report released earlier this year by Kijiji found that nearly 85 percent of Canadians turned to the secondhand economy to buy or sell an item. Canadians sold 1.85 billion objects in 2015 and earned an average of $883 through those sales. The average amount saved by each Canadian thanks to the secondhand economy was $480.
Of course, we hear a lot about free classified websites like Kijiji and Craigslist, but don’t overlook Facebook as a great place to sell your stuff online. With 1.59 billion monthly active users, plus a proliferation of “Sale Groups”, the social networking giant is a must add when buying and selling items.
A quick search of “Lethbridge Swap and Buy” on Facebook yielded the following results:
There are almost 34,000 members in the main swap and buy group – not bad for a city of about 100,000 people – plus countless other niche swap and buy groups in the area.
Best ways to sell your stuff online
Consumer expert and secondhand goods connoisseur Kerry Taylor stopped by the Marilyn Dennis show recently to tout the benefits of selling your stuff online – not only on Kijiji, but also through sites like eBay, Etsy, and Shopify:
My wife was determined to unload some of our unused stuff (and earn some extra money in the process) so she made a list of all the items she wanted to sell, cleaned them up and got them ready for sale, then snapped a few pictures of each item.
She researched each of the items online to see if people were looking for them and what they were willing to pay. Once she set the prices she was ready to start selling. She listed a total of 14 items on Facebook and Kijiji and managed to sell every single one of them within seven days. Here were the results:
Facebook vs. Kijiji: Secondhand Economy Smackdown
|Item:||List price:||Sold on:||Sold for:|
|Crib and mattress||$200||$150|
Selling stuff on Facebook:
My wife sold a total of eight items and earned $515 using the Lethbridge and Area Swap and Buy group on Facebook.
Pros: There’s always a certain level of anxiety when interacting with a prospective buyer, but most Facebook Swap and Buy groups are closed, meaning you have to request and get approved by a moderator to join the group.
On Facebook you can also ‘creep’ on individual profiles to help you determine whether this is someone you want coming to your home to pick up an item. In a few cases, my wife and the buyer had a mutual friend, which helped ease the comfort level for both the buyer and seller.
You can typically “bump” your listing every 24-48 hours until it sells.
Cons: Nearly everyone is on Facebook, and 1/3 Lethbridge residents are members of the city’s main Swap and Buy group. I realize Facebook is all about oversharing, but you might not want your friends and neighbours to see everything you’re buying and selling online.
Some Facebook groups have rules in place restricting how many items you can list, how often you can post, and even where to display pictures of the item. It’s enough to make the Soup Nazi appear reasonable and lenient.
Buying and selling tip: Facebook groups are great for finding and selling used baby items, including clothes and toys.
Selling stuff on Kijiji:
My wife sold a total of six items and earned $440 using Kijiji free local classifieds.
Pros: When people think of the secondhand economy, Kijiji is the first name that comes to mind. Items can be broken down into specific categories. For example, when searching for baby items you can find things like strollers, high chairs, toys, and even clothing sorted by size.
The Kijiji audience is broad and sellers are more apt to find someone interested in more specific items, such as the keyboard and sideboard that we sold.
Kijiji can also be more private for the seller – unlike Facebook where everyone in your group can see what you’re up to.
Cons: Stranger danger. Interactions between buyers and sellers is anonymous on Kijiji, so there’s always an element of caution when meeting up to exchange money for goods. The anonymity also led to more people ‘flaking out’ and not showing up after messaging about an item.
Sellers can’t “bump” their listing on Kijiji unless they pay a fee to promote it and keep it on the front page. That means your item can quickly get buried in a busy buy and sell category.
Buying and selling tip: Set-up a meeting in a neutral location and make the transaction in a public place. Only accept cash. Don’t give out your home address unless you have to (i.e. the item is too large to transport).
Our experience with the secondhand economy was positive, using Facebook and Kijiji to get rid of a bunch of items we no longer needed and earning close to $1,000 worth of extra cash in the process.
With a garage sale or yard sale you have to put in a lot of time and effort to set-up and to advertise. There’s always the risk of bad weather and nobody showing up. And the ones who do show up are often looking for a bargain-basement deal, offering you a fraction of the list price on many items.
My wife sold these 14 items on Facebook and Kijiji in seven days with little effort and received a total of $955 out of the $1,045 that she asked for. And she’s not done yet. She’ll continue using the secondhand economy to earn extra money and declutter our home as our kids get older.
Readers: Do you use Facebook or Kijiji to buy and sell stuff online?