Keeping up with the latest fashion trends can be difficult and pricey, especially for college students with tight budgets. Virtual yard sales are a way for students to keep up with trends without breaking their banks.
Sellback stores and thrift shops have been popular for years, but the latest trend for discounted shopping is online yard sales, which offer a place to buy, sell and trade clothing and accessories for discounted prices.
Ashley Berry started the Facebook group called Provo Clothing Swap as a place for her friends to sell clothes to each other. The Facebook page offers a place to buy and sell gently used clothing and accessories to a group that has grown to more than 2,800 members in the Provo area.
“My sister and I thought this was a new craze, and I wished there was a larger audience for college students,” Berry said.
Berry graduated from BYU with a degree in entrepreneurship. She practiced her entrepreneurial skills when she opened the Facebook group on the BYU campus in 2013. Berry and her sister, Erica Tanner, manage the group together.
The group has grown in the past two years and now has about 100 items posted a day, ranging from a half-price Anthropologie wedding gown to gently worn T-shirts from H&M.
The idea for the group stemmed from Berry’s often-frustrating experiences with local clothing sellback stores.
“I wanted the amount that customers were buying my clothes for, and other places don’t give you that much,” Berry said.
The yard sale approach to shopping allows the seller and buyer to directly agree on a price. The site keeps pricing competitive because the buyer will only pay what the item is worth but still gives the seller maximum profit, according to Tanner.
Brittany Labrum is a manager at the local sellback store Plato’s Closet in Orem. Labrum said the virtual yard sale trend has not slowed down business at Plato’s Closet. According to Labrum, 60–80 people on average come in every day to sell clothing.
“People like coming in here because it’s instant cash,” Labrum said. “They don’t want to wait for a buyer after posting.”
Selling items may be easier at stores because a person simply needs to take the clothing into a sellback store to receive money for the items. Online a seller needs to take pictures of all the clothing, post it on Facebook, wait for a buyer and negotiate price and pickup, all before receiving the cash.
However, purchasing items on online yard sales is generally of greater ease when the groups are on Facebook because a seller does not need to leave the house to shop.
“Cute clothes just show up on my newsfeed,” said Amy Peterson, a sophomore BYU student. “I buy things that I didn’t think I needed because it’s so tempting and cheap on Facebook.”
Peterson joined Provo Clothing Swap more than a year ago and has purchased countless discounted clothing items on the page.
Provo Clothing Swap is a group dedicated to college students in the Provo area. There are several other groups that target different demographics in Utah County.
Tanner, for instance, also participates in other Facebook yard sale groups for her family’s needs. Provo Indoor Yard Sale has more than 17,000 group members, and Orem Indoor Yard Sale has more than 28,000 members.
Participating in online yard sales is easy. Those interested can find a group online or on Facebook and, once accepted, become familiar with the rules. Some examples of rules include no advertising for business and only selling items that would be sold at a yard sale.
Once familiar with the rules, shoppers should get to know the terminology. Some sellers will post “FCFS” at the end of a post; this means “first come, first serve.” Another common phrase used after listing the price of an item is “OBO,” which means, “or best offer.” Knowing the terms and acronyms will help an online yard sale shopping experience run more smoothly.
Each of the Facebook yard sale groups mentioned has more than 100 different items posted daily. Tanner’s advice for successful selling is simple.
“You have to price your items right and remain active on the site,” Tanner said. “It also has to be in style for people to want it.”