Usually the writers of U.S. 1’s Survival Guide stories have to trust the story subject’s advice in their area of expertise. But it so happened that right after interviewing Sonali Desphande about using apps to sell possessions online, I had a chance to put the advice into action right away.
Last weekend after helping a relative downsize, I ended up with a garage full of furniture and household items to liquidate. I wanted to get my garage back as quickly as possible, so on Saturday night, I posted ads on multiple websites just as Desphande recommends. I used Cragislist, Letgo, Facebook, and Nextdoor. Posting on Letgo required installing its own app.
Of the four, Letgo was by far the most streamlined. It asks for a picture of the item first, which it then posts before even giving you a chance to enter a description or price. By contrast, Craigslist is a more time consuming process, presenting the user with multiple boxes of information to fill out for each listing. You don’t have to create a Cragislist account to use it, but if you are selling multiple items, it saves you the trouble of re-entering contact information for every listing.
Facebook was fairly painless and uses the Facebook app that most people already have installed on their phones under a “marketplace” icon I had never noticed before.
Nextdoor targets a much smaller geographical area than the other two sites, limiting the reach to your own neighborhood and a few surrounding ones. The site seems to function mostly as a community message board, with a classified system tacked on. I didn’t want to annoy my neighbors with multiple postings, so I only put up one item to see if I would get any bites.
Immediately my phone started buzzing with notifications. The first was a text message via Craigslist from a buyer who wanted to purchase the most expensive item I had listed, a hardwood kitchen table. Great, I thought, until I actually read it: it was from a Los Angeles area code and from a customer with the unlikely name “Robinson Roland spearhead.” Mr. spearhead wanted to buy the table sight unseen, pay via cashier’s check, and have an agent pick it up.
Over the next day more Craigslist scammers contacted me, in addition to a few who seemed like legitimate buyers who were willing to do business in person with cash as Desphande advised.
Facebook Marketplace seems to be the most heavily used of the platforms I tried, more so than Letgo, which also targets a local audience. I got responses all day long via Facebook, which offers the added security of being able to look at the buyer’s profile before doing business. Most of the serious offers I got came from Facebook Marketplace. On Sunday I sold a wall mirror and a couple of end tables, and was conversing with some people about a couch and a bike.
So far in my brief experience, Facebook was the best platform for selling furniture and household goods. Craigslist appears to be thoroughly infiltrated by scammers. While the scams were crude and easy to spot, they were annoying and made legitimate offers hard to weed out. Letgo did not have this problem, but did not seem to reach as many people as the nearly Facebook Marketplace, which has the advantage of being connected to a platform that almost everyone uses already.
However, none of these platforms really competes with the easiest option of all: donating everything to a charity, forgetting about it, and enjoying the weekend.