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May 1, 2013

Driveway meets information superhighway

Garage sale Facebook groups attract thousands of members

LOGANSPORT — Logansport citizens and those living in the surrounding area have found that a popular online social networking service is allowing them to avoid the time, money and energy required for garage sales when looking to sell their unwanted stuff.

Dawn Smith, a Logansport resident, said she started the Logansport Garage Sales group on Facebook about a year ago after moving into her parents’ house. She was trying to come up with a convenient way to clear the garage of all the things that had collected over the years.

“I was frustrated with the garage sale system here,” Smith said. “By the time you pay for the ad and permit, you’re usually about $35 in the hole before you even start your yard sale.”

After speaking with a friend in California who told her about garage sale Facebook groups out West, Smith figured she’d try one of her own in an attempt to dodge the hassle of a physical garage sale.

“This way, I can put out a few items at a time,” she said. “I can monitor what I’m doing and not have the expense.”

Others quickly caught on to the convenience the online group provided. Within the first month, Smith said the group had over 100 members, with six to 10 joining each day after that. As of this writing, the group’s membership amounts to more than 1,600 members.

When members wish to sell something, they post a photograph of the item along with a description and price on the group’s page. Others interested in the item then reply to the post, sometimes attempting to bargain down the price or offer a trade. When an agreement is made, a place and time is established and the two parties meet to seal the deal.

“Short of having to referee an occasional fight on there, it’s not a bad time,” Smith said.

Not only does the group continue to attract new members, but new Logansport garage sale groups have started sprouting up as well. Logansport Garage sale 2, currently with about 730 members and Logansport Garage Sales 3, currently with about 200 members, are just two of the original group’s spin-offs.

There are other groups that feature items pertaining specifically to men, kids’ clothing and plus-size clothing. Similar groups in Royal Center, Kokomo and Rochester exist as well.

“I was surprised with how much it’s exploded,” Smith said.

Eventually Smith found herself short on time for administrating the group and posted a request for some assistance. Last December, Logansport citizen Christine Hiatt started helping out with many of the these duties.

In order to preserve the safety of the group’s members, Hiatt stresses meeting in public places during the day and not giving out personal addresses and phone numbers. If such measures are necessary, she suggests using private messaging.

Many of the items that are sold on the group’s page are cell phones, clothing, mattresses, televisions and purses, Hiatt said. An occasional vehicle will pop up on the page as well.

“You can tell when somebody is cleaning their closet out and getting ready for next season because you’ll see a lot of that stuff,” Hiatt said.

As administrator, Hiatt’s responsibilities include deleting posts after items sell, identifying and banning those who post scams and enforcing the group’s rules, which include no retail sales, business ads or the selling of animals.

Several of the group’s members say these rules, along with the fact that the online group exists within a smaller community, help to make it more appealing than larger websites of a similar nature like Craigslist.

“It seems easier to buy and sell on here for me,” said group member Terri McKinney via Facebook. “Since it’s mostly people from small towns, someone always knows a lot of people and will let you know who to deal with and not deal with.

“People try to look out for others on here. If someone is suspected of selling things ‘not good,’ you hear about it, rather than on Craigslist, you don’t really know who you are dealing with and that can be scary.”

Valerie Stetson, who currently resides in Staten Island, N.Y., is another member of the group and will be moving to Logansport in June.

“I am going to need pretty much everything when I move out there,” she said via Facebook. “I like their page better than sites like Craigslist as everything is all on one page and you can just scroll down to see what is for sale... I am on Facebook quite a bit anyway and you can see right away when someone posts something new.”

The easiest way to find the groups is by typing “Logansport garage sale” into the Facebook search bar. Upon acceptance by the groups’ administrators, members will be able to receive notifications on the items they wish to buy and sell.

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com.

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