Thrifty (AKA cheap) moms are usually pretty creative when it comes to ways to pinch a penny because let’s face it, kids are expensive…REALLY expensive…
One of the most popular ways to do this is to join a Swap/Buy/Sell Social Media site for your local community. Here you can list or look for gently used items that are up for grabs at a fraction of their full retail price . You can also participate in actual Mom2Mom sales in your area that are usually held at community centres or halls. These happen, on average, once a season to help you clear our your closets or stock up whatever your case may be. I myself have found some absolutely amazing deals on gently used toys and clothing for our boys. They’re always ‘New to Us’ and the boys have no idea they’ve been previously loved.
However, there are a few annoyances that come up on these sites or sales that you should learn to navigate before you post or purchase. Let me outline a few of the most common offences/concerns so you’re well prepared when wading into this bidding war!!
1. Buyer Beware!!
These sites or sales aren’t a big box stores that you can take defective merchandise back to! You’d hope most people would be honest and only list items in good working condition but you need to be prepared for those few bad apples. When purchasing something with moving parts or electronics make sure you ask the seller to demonstrate or plug in the item to make sure it is still in working order. If it comes with multiple pieces, make sure you have all of the items before leaving, and if it requires batteries keep a few in your car or purse so you can make sure everything is a-okay! Once the money changes hands it’s on you if the item you bought isn’t what you expected and you’ll be shouldering the burden of having spent money on an item that doesn’t work.
**This is especially important when purchasing Gift Cards or big ticket items like mobile phones. You want to call the number on the gift card to make sure the balance is what you were lead to believe it was before leaving and with phones you need to make sure they haven’t been ‘bricked’ or ‘blacklisted’ since there is no fixing that particular issue as it indicates that is is likely stolen merchandise. **
2. Leave emotions at the door!!
Just because your tiny little baby spent many happy hours snuggled and sleeping in their gorgeous canopied swing when they were born 3 years ago doesn’t make your item more valuable. Some items are a dime a dozen on these sites (like swings, newborn clothing, bouncy chairs, etc) and no-one is going to pay a premium because of your emotional attachment to the object. While it might hold sweet memories to you make sure you price it competitively if you really want to sell.
**Stick to the facts**
3. Take accurate pictures and document ‘flaws’
You’re marketing your products here!! I understand not everyone is a professional photographer but make sure you post clear pictures that accurately portray the condition of the item you’re selling. Use natural lighting, photograph from a few angles to to show both size and form and also make sure you include photographs of any flaws/rips/stains on the item you’re selling. Sticking with our swing example: if it’s been through 3+ kids over 5 years make sure you are clear if there are any stains (hey it happens!) or if the harness straps etc are fraying. Also note if there are any parts (like music settings) that don’t work or if any toys or other items are missing. Try to stick to one item a picture unless you’re selling clothing as a lot. If you’re selling a swing we don’t need to see your messy living room, 2 kids, 3 cats and a dog all vying for attention! It makes it easier to focus on the item you’re trying to move.
**Do not use stock pictures from a website – These in no way accurately reflect the USED item you are trying to sell!!**
4. Do your research when setting price
If you’re trying to sell items that are new in package or things like movie passes you won’t be using make sure you do your research before setting a price. If Walmart is selling the toy for $12.94 new then don’t price yours at $15, not only does it decrease your chances of moving the item it also comes off as a little shady. These sites are designed for Moms to get a deal, not get fleeced by someone looking to make a quick buck. Also don’t bother listing the retail price…again I stress that your item is USED! Price accordingly.
Also if you’re selling a common item (Again: swings, basinettes, bouncy seats, bumbo chairs etc) make sure you’re aware of what other people are selling their items for. You need to be competitive especially if yours is in a more used condition or missing items (like the straps for the bumbo seat that were added on at a later date). Be honest with yourself; if someone is selling a bumbo for $20 and you price yours at $25 who is going to get that sale?
**These sites/sales are a BUYERS MARKET 99% of the time**
5. Think about your text
You usually have a word limit in which to describe your product and make your pitch. This is just like school essays with a word limit…or twitter. Make it short and sweet….if you are putting up 2 paragraphs on a bouncy seat no-one is going to take the time to read that. Focus on the item itself, it’s condition, the price and whether delivery is an option. Be truthful and to the point.
**Avoid terms like: ‘Need gone ASAP’ or ‘want GONE’ etc. Everyone who posts stuff for sale on this site wants their crap gone…that’s why they’re listing it…**
6. Be courteous for delivery/pickups
This should go without saying but if you are going to deliver an item then deliver it when and where you said you would. There is no excuse as an adult to leave someone waiting for you when you just decide you have better things to do. If you’re running late or need to reschedule then give your buyer the courtesy of letting them know with enough time to adjust their plans as well. Predominantly the members of this site are all mothers, we’re all busy, don’t waste someone’s time!
The same goes if you’re planning on picking an item up. If you change your mind or can’t make it then let the seller know as soon as you can. That way they can list it back up for sale and don’t take valuable time out of their day to sit around and wait for you to show up. Trust me, the seller will be WAY less pissed if you just let them know you’ve decided against the purchase than after they’ve waited at home all afternoon for you to pick it up. Don’t be a jerk!
Also if you’re nervous about meeting someone at your house or theirs don’t be afraid to suggest a neutral ‘meeting point’ where you can exchange goods! I’ve done some sales from home but I’ve also met in mall parking lots for some of my loot!
**Most of these sites actually have ways to rate you as a buyer or seller – Too many no shows or rude comments and you might find it a heck of a lot harder to move your stuff**
7. ISO posts
If you are in search of (hence ISO) of a particular item then feel free to make a post so that potential sellers are aware that there is a market for their stuff! However please be conscious of the fact that the items sold on these sites or sales are USED. If you posts contains 15 different ways to say ‘Excellent’ or ‘New’ condition, then you might want to consider saving up the money and going out and actually buying it new. You need to have the appropriate mind set and own the expectation that the items you are going to be looking at aren’t going to be ‘New In Box’ pristine…unless you’re willing to pay that price at the retailer. Also PLEASE DO NOT purchase safety items like car seats on these sites! Your child’s safety is priceless and regardless of what the seller is telling you there is no way to ensure they are in acceptable condition and accident free. If you truly have issues affording a car seat please contact your local health unit for help!
**Even items that are listed as EUC (Excellent Used Condition) have still been USED! Key word here…**
8. Follow the Rules/Regulations set by the Admins or Organizers
These sites will usually have a posted note or visible guidelines on how you’re expected to conduct yourself while at the sale or as a member of the group. Mostly they’re common sense but people can to lose their chill for really bizarre reasons. Just try your best to be a good person – that’s really all they ask. Don’t endlessly bump your posts to clog up the site and make it harder for others to be seen and don’t add your items as a comment to some other seller’s post, at a lower price, hoping to poach off their interest. This site is here for your benefit, don’t ruin it for yourself and others!
**If you have a serious issue with someone/something on the site or event please contact the Admin or Organizer privately – No-one else is interested in your drama**
Having covered the most common ‘repeat offenses’ I do want to be clear though that the sites are a fabulous way of saving money while making sure your child has everything they need for the next stage of their growth/development. We always talk about how baby items are used for so brief a time so why not pass on some savings to another family who could use the item and take advantage of some fab finds for yourself!! Just try to be a decent human being while doing so okay??