It started small.
Allison Adams and Ali Spradley decided to create an online yard sale on Facebook for their friends to buy and sell items among themselves.
Somebody posted a photo of an item they’d like to sell, along with a few details about it, and the price. Another person indicated interest in the item by posting a comment under the picture. The buyer and the seller were then responsible for making their own arrangements to complete the sale.
“We just wanted to have a place where we could sell online, because everybody is doing everything online right now,” Adams said.
Friends kept adding friends and now, more than a year later, CSRA Online Yard Sale has more than 7,600 users with more than 30,000 items for sale on the site.
Early on, as the site grew, users met in groups twice a week in a parking lot to complete their sales, pick up purchases and browse other items.
“There would be like 100 cars show up,” Adams said. “The police basically shut us down because there were so many people showing up.”
She opened The Shop and Drop consignment store to give users a safe place to pick up and drop off their items. For $10, sellers can drop off as many items as they wish for a month. Adams charges a 5 percent commission on the total sale price. Buyers have four days to pick up small items and one day to pick up large items. It does not cost buyers anything to pick up an item.
Though using the shop is not required to participate in the Online Yard Sale, many users will not buy or sell an item unless it’s through The Shop and Drop because they feel its safer or more convenient.
For Bernice Taylor, it is a place where she can afford to provide for her grandchildren.
Taylor’s daughter, Stephanie Amerson, was struck by a car and killed in February. Taylor, who was already raising a 14-year-old granddaughter, quit her job at University Hospital to stay home and care for Amerson’s four children.
Though she’s relatively new to the site, she’s already buying school clothes for the children, who are ages, 11, 6, 3 and 11 months.
“My poor old husband works so much overtime right now to cover us. It’s the only way to get them school clothes,” she said.
She can buy shirts for $1, and many times they are name brands. In addition, the clothes and toys are almost always in good condition.
Not only does she save money on the items themselves, she saves gas because she doesn’t have to drive around town to Goodwill, the Salvation Army or traditional yard sales.
But what means more to her is that she feels other users look out for her.
“Once people know what you’re looking for, they’ll tag you in stuff,” Taylor said. “Then it comes straight to my page and I don’t have to go through everything.”
Diane Coughlin, a single mother, had been selling things on eBay for five years to supplement her income. Through the Online Yard Sale, she found a way to sell items easier and cheaper.
“This is a lot easier for me because I don’t have to package it and get to the post office,” she said. “This I can just bag it, tag it, get it all ready. They pick it up.”
Coughlin scours traditional yard sales to find things to sell on the Online Yard Sale, often buying the remnants at the end of a sale. For a commission, she also sells items for other people, like Adams, who are too busy to sell for themselves.
She’s not the only one. Adams said some people are making more than $1,000 a month selling things through the site.
Shannon Shafer has been a member of the Online Yard Sale almost since the beginning, but used it mainly to buy clothes for her three children.
She joined the Shop and Drop last month and said she’s made enough money from cleaning out her closets to finance a long weekend in Hilton Head, S.C.
While it is a little time consuming to take the pictures and then bag and tag the items for drop-off, it’s much easier than setting up a traditional yard sale, Shafer said.