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I had never heard of a Facebook yard sale before I got engaged. It kind of feels like the second the ring was on my finger BOOM, they were everywhere. If you are like un-engaged me, Facebook yard sales are pages or groups set up on Facebook based around specific geographic areas that facilitate the buying and selling of various household items. Wedding specific Facebook yard sales are great because they connect engaged folks looking for things with newly married (or in some unfortunate incidents newly un-engaged) folks looking to sell things from their weddings. Some groups also allow vendors looking to connect on a more personal level with their potential clients. The best of these sites (depending upon your needs) also serve as a place for people to crowdsource information about the planning process. I pretty much suggest these types of pages to my newly engaged friends immediately after the word congratulations leaves my lips.
I wasn’t into the concept at first myself. The idea of getting used items just seemed somewhat … icky. At the time, I couldn’t imagine why anyone would be selling anything decent, but I joined some my sister suggested to me anyway. At the same time that things started popping up in my newsfeed from these pages, I also started seeking out brand new versions of the same items and suddenly I realized why these pages were so worthwhile. People were selling gently used items (or sometimes items that hadn’t been used at all) for a fraction of what you could get them for in any store. My mind changed pretty quickly about buying used items when I started to shop around and saw just how expensive all the accessories that come with weddings actually are.
You can find all manner of things on Facebook yard sales. I’ve even seen a few beautiful gowns outright given away because brides didn’t have a place to keep it after they were married or wanted to see it go to good use rather than sitting around in their closet. I have bought a few things myself, too. Most recently, Matt and I got lost in a town about half an hour from Boston to meet with a bride for some bows we’re going to use to decorate the pews for our church.
The second I saw these, I could picture them on the pews as I walked down the aisle.
I can definitely see why brides would want to sell items from their special day now, too. I’m not even married yet and I already have a few items that we’re thinking of putting up there. On an impulse one Sunday, we bought a bunch of printable invites that were on clearance at Walmart. Since then we’ve completely changed our mind on what we’re going to do for invites so we’re toying with the idea of selling them rather than sticking with them despite the fact that we’ve already sunk money into them. I’m fully aware that we likely won’t get the full cost of them back, but anything we could get is better than just having them sitting around. Plus, I get the warm and fuzzy feeling of helping out another bride in need.
This was a splurge that didn’t necessarily break the bank, but it would be nice to get something for them.
Every yard sale is a little bit different and has something a bit different to offer. Each has their own set of rules set up by the administrator usually pinned to the top of the page. Each may have unique sets of lingo that they use but generally speaking here’s what you’ll see regularly:
ISO – In search of. For example, brides might post that they’re ISO nautically themed items.
X-Posted – Cross-posted or posted across multiple yard sales
OBO – Or Best Offer
PM – Private Message (remember to check your “Other” box if somebody says they’ve pm’ed you!)
When in doubt, just ask! Sometimes the admin will even outline some of the acronyms for you. Some admins won’t allow vendors to post at all while others will limit them to advertising once a week. One particular yard sale I’m part of is great because at some point, it stopped just being about buying and selling and became a forum for brides to reach out to help one another and seek out advice from others that understand the specifics of the area they’re in. I’ve bought the majority of yard sale items I’ve purchased from this group and I’ve also used it to reach out to a few vendors.
I would say to act fast when you see something you like because someone else will grab it. If I like something I comment immediately with “interested” and typically the seller and I will PM each other back and forth from there. Pay attention to how far from you the seller is. It’s not worth it to you to travel across the state to save money on an item if you’re going to spend the equivalent of what you’ve saved in gas money. See if the person will meet you at a halfway point if it’s an item that you feel you can’t live without or plan a day trip to an attraction in their area. Matt and I have had a lot of fun adventures that started out as simple wedding excursions (Yay, memories!).
It’s important to see something in person before you do actually commit to buying it. Pictures can be deceiving, even if they’re not meant to be. Look at that black and blue dress that looked gold and white (or was it the other way around?) that was EVERYWHERE on the internet a few weeks ago. Lighting can completely change what something looks like and a different angle might make a stain look like a shadow and vice versa. Be upfront about the fact that you need to see something in person before you purchase it so there isn’t any confusion when you do meet. Once you are able to check the item out, if it’s not what you were expecting it to be, don’t let yourself feel pressured to buy it out of guilt. Sales fall through on these kinds of things all the time and someone else out there that will scoop it up if you don’t. Don’t buy something that doesn’t work for you just to spare someone else’s feelings. You’re a bride on a budget and your mission is to do your best to stick to that.
The last thing I would say is to proceed with caution. The fact that you’re meeting this person through Facebook can lull you into a false sense of security because, unlike sites like Craigslist, you’re able to see their picture and maybe a few of their posts so it’s easier to trust this person is exactly who they say they are. You’re still dealing with a stranger from the internet. Bring someone with you that you will feel safe with and don’t be home alone when someone is stopping by to buy something. Let others know where you’re going or when someone is coming over. Your best bet is probably to meet in a high traffic, public area such as the mall or a park. If someone you’re dealing with gives you the creeps at all, trust your instincts and don’t meet with them or stop the sale right there. Someone else will come along with what you’re looking for, or looking to buy what you have to offer.
You can find your local Facebook yard sales yourself by jumping onto Facebook and typing Your state/city/region + “Wedding Yard Sale” into the search bar. If you live in a smaller town, sometimes you may need to type in the closest big city.