Years ago I stumbled upon a pristine set of 1950s pink GE kitchen appliances at a garage sale down the street. Even though I only paid $300 to take those beauties home, they’re worth more to me than if I’d paid $3,000. Or maybe it’s because I only paid $300 that they’re worth so much? Do you feel me?
Honestly, that’s the story of 90% of the items in my home. I’m surrounded by found treasures that were (often) dirt cheap and are (almost always) unmatched and irreplaceable. They make my heart swell.
Which is to say, I spend a lot of time at estate sales, garage sales, and thrift stores. Or, I used to anyway. Back when the world was…the world it was.
I’m surrounded by found treasures that were (often) dirt cheap and are (almost always) unmatched and irreplaceable. They make my heart swell.
So somewhere around April this year, when we’d been locked down at home for weeks with no end in sight, my treasure-hunting heart was feeling the strain. That’s when I discovered the magic of Facebook Marketplace. Over the past seven months, this little corner of the Internet—and the lovely people on it—has become a beloved companion.
Here are a few good reasons to try it for yourself:
Life as a thrifter is very hit-and-miss. I mean, yes, there was the day I went garage sale-ing in search of a juicer and instantly found one, but that kind of serendipity is rare. More often I find what I didn’t realize I was looking for and end up searching months for the thing I actually need. (Or, let’s be real, want.) With Facebook Marketplace, if you’re looking for a certain size of jeans, or a specific brand of vintage pottery, you’re much more likely to find it.
I realize you can find things you want on Craigslist and eBay too. But, in my experience, people are more likely to post oddball things on Facebook Marketplace than other sites. (Or, maybe the format of Marketplace just makes us more likely to see them?) Either way, on Marketplace you’re more likely to see things like a well-worn flannel, or a clipping of someone’s fiddle leaf fig, or a pair of hedge trimmers. Things that aren’t worth the time to post and ship on eBay. Things that might ordinarily be dropped off at a thrift store or lined up on a garage sale table. Many of those things seem to make it onto Marketplace, where we buyers can find them with fairly impressive efficiency.
These days, when I’m in need of a yard/household tool, the first place I look is Facebook Marketplace. If it’s not there (or if it’s further than I want to drive) I’ll move on and buy it new, but it’s worth a first stop.
Even better than the mundane things are the fabulous nuggets of originality you’ll come across now and then—an original painting, an old sign, a whacky piece of furniture, a perfectly preserved retro dinette set, a hand-knit sweater. You can stand out in a sea of sameness by finding the things that are truly you. And when you find them, grab them.
Even better than the mundane things are the fabulous nuggets of originality you’ll come across now and then—an original painting, an old sign, a whacky piece of furniture, a perfectly preserved retro dinette set, a hand-knit sweater. You can stand out in a sea of sameness by finding the things that are truly you.
Speaking of nuggets of originality, check out one of my favorite Marketplace posts of all time. I don’t know who ended up buying that table, but I hope they framed the seller’s epic sales pitch right next to it.
This, by far, is one of the best things about Facebook Marketplace. It’s not a stretch to say that Marketplace has become my safe zone on Facebook. It’s the place online where I’m sure to encounter the goodness and creativity and integrity of people.
Facebook Marketplace has provided a sense of connection, even while I’ve been holed up in my little house alone. It’s where I experience people as trustworthy and kind. As a case in point: I use Venmo to prepay for many of my Marketplace purchases and every item I’ve paid for has been waiting for me when I arrive, usually sitting on the front porch or nicely wrapped in a bag and often accompanied by a smiling stranger in a mask.
Note: Obviously, I can’t vouch for the safety and integrity of every person on Marketplace, so please use your common sense and care. I can only tell you that my experience so far has been entirely positive. There’s definitely an added level of transparency provided by the fact that you can see each other’s Facebook profiles and you can usually track down a seller for follow-up questions or problems.
In an era when everything is canceled unless it’s on Zoom, it’s been a delight to have some Facebook Marketplace dates on my calendar. To know that I need to be at an actual human’s house at an actual time for an actual (socially distanced) interaction is more invigorating and satisfying than I would have thought.
One key factor in a Facebook Marketplace decision, after determining whether the item and the price are right, is whether it’s worth the drive or the subway ride or whatever transportation it may require. For me, some items are only worth a 10-minute drive, while others are worth two hours or more. Most of my purchases fall somewhere in a 30-minute window, and making those drives has been a refreshing way to encounter previously unseen nooks and crannies around this city I call home. When nothing else is on the calendar anyway, a drive across town or into the country is an event in itself. My pup is thrilled to accompany me on these little adventures and we often hop out in a new part of town for a little exploring on foot.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get to hear the story of the item you’re purchasing and have a friendly moment of connection with another human being. When I was picking up a retro typewriter from a distinguished-looking gentleman this summer, I learned that he’d purchased the typewriter years ago to write his book. (He then promptly realized how hard it was to write a book on a typewriter so he shifted to a computer instead.) I went home that day with both the typewriter and a free copy of his book.
Most people you interact with on Facebook Marketplace will be strangers, but occasionally you’ll notice that you have some mutual friends in common with someone. More than once I’ve bumped into a friend or neighbor on Marketplace. A couple of months ago I was checking out a screen door I liked when I realized it was being sold by my good friend’s brother, a Facebook friend of mine. He ended up insisting I take the door for free AND he delivered it to save me the drive.
We’re all struggling through this pandemic. Some much more than others. There’s something about giving my money directly to another person—instead of a corporation—that feels empowering and important these days.
Here are some tips to get you started:
How about you? What’s your experience with Facebook Marketplace? Do you have any advice to add? Let me know in the comments below! And maybe we’ll bump into each other on the Marketplace one day soon. Happy thrifting!
Julie Rybarczyk is a freelance writer, fair-weather blogger, and empty-nester mama who’s living alone and liking it . She’s perpetually the chilliest person in Minneapolis—so most of the year you’ll find her under layers of wool, behind steaming cups of tea. Or on the socials at @shortsandlongs.
BY Julie Rybarczyk - November 11, 2020
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.