You might have noticed how much stuff you have around your house as you spend more time than usual indoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under typical circumstances, you could remedy your item overload with a garage sale. Unfortunately, a good turnout is not guaranteed as many typical attendees might skip it out of an abundance of caution.
There’s a safe way to unload your unwanted stuff, however: host an online or virtual garage sale. It will be different from an in-person affair, but the concept is still the same—display the items you want to sell, set a price and let the festivities begin.
Much like any traditional event that’s gone online due to the pandemic, a virtual garage sale can take some getting used to. Check out these steps for making sure yours is a hit.
Take Good Photos
People won’t have the luxury of eyeing your items up close like they would at in-person sale, so quality photos are a must. Photograph items in well-lit areas. Include pictures from different angles of each item and show any damage like scratches or dents. You want to be as transparent as possible here; you’d be unable to hide flaws at an in-person garage sale, so there’s no reason to try to do that at a virtual one. Also be sure to make your item photos presentable. Nothing else should be in the background, so check to see if there is anything around the item before you take the pictures, or crop out anything unsightly after the fact.
You can purchase a white sweep (background) to put behind your items and avoid any unsightly items appearing in your photos. A white bed sheet or piece of poster board would do the trick, too. Adding a background hides anything you don’t want in the shot and as a bonus, your photos will look a lot more professional.
Pick Your Virtual Garage Sale Platform
You’ll need a place to post all the great pictures you’ve taken. Fortunately, there is no shortage of online platforms where you can display your items. Craig’s List and NextDoor are just two of the free websites available for selling your things. If you’re wiling to ship your items, eBay, LetGo and Amazon Marketplace are potential options, too. They’re convenient and offer some protections for you and the buyer. Be mindful of shipping costs though; they can quickly eat into your profits!
Creating or joining a neighborhood social media group is another efficient way to share your virtual garage sale items. The bonus here is the group will mostly comprise people you know, which will help ensure more friendly negotiations and safety if you opt for in-person deliveries. You could also sell items on Facebook Marketplace if you want to cast a sales net that’s wider than your neighborhood.
Be As Descriptive As Possible
Don’t just post pictures of your items; include a detailed description of them as well. It might seem like a lot of work now, but you’ll probably have to answer fewer questions once you start your virtual garage sale. There’s no such thing as too much information in this scenario. Include the item’s name, size, condition, model, years of use, etc. These details may vary depending on what you’re selling—the model and years of use for office supplies like a stapler or three-hole punch aren’t as important as they would be for a tablet or television, for example. Also, if your sales platform lets you categorize items, make sure you tag everything accurately.
Set Your Prices
Pricing your virtual garage sale options shouldn’t vary too much from an in-person event. Selling something virtually rather than face-to-face doesn’t change how much you’d want to charge for it. You might want to adjust your prices slightly to accommodate for shipping, however (if you plan on sending buyers their items).
Use other garage sales as a guide if you’re having trouble pricing your items. Look at multiple sales so you can see if prices are similar for common garage sale items like clothes, toys, books and furniture. Try to also keep your search to local garage sales because prices can vary by area. Sticking to your neighborhood and maybe slightly beyond will give you best idea of what the items you’re trying to unload have sold for in the past.
Remember, Safety First
You should make any in-person deliveries to strangers as safe as possible. Try to meet in a public place rather than your house. Anywhere that’s crowded (mall parking lots) or has a lot of cameras on their premises (bank parking lots) is a good option. The added bonus of meeting at a bank is the buyer could easily get more money if they “forgot” to bring the agreed-upon amount. If possible, meet during the daytime and bring someone with you. Of course, ask that the buyer wear a mask, maintain social distancing and don’t hesitate to make any other COVID-19 related requests that will make you feel safe during the drop-off.
By Joe Dyton