Ah — the wonderful world of Facebook Marketplace. It's like Craigslist but with less scams, less wonky ads, and way more opportunities to find one-of-a-kind items that haven't been marked up by antique resellers. In fact, the FB Market is still very much a sea of untapped thrifting potential.
The people who use the platform to sell typically have no desire to gouge prices; many of them want to clear out old furniture to make way for their own new finds, prepare for cross-country moves, or just help older family members declutter. And the likelihood of getting scammed on the platform is rare because you can check out every seller's page and background info before you decide to buy their goods.
Plus, there is So. Much. Stuff. Available. If you're into midcentury modern, someone's selling it. Want everything art deco? It's there. Even if you're looking for something super granular, like say a vintage bar cabinet with cloudy glass windows and cherry wood detailing, chances are you can find multiple iterations (speaking from experience). The platform can be super overwhelming if you're just starting out, though. So here are some tips to get you cruising the marketplace like a pro in no time.
1. Have an idea of what you want.
Again, there are so many people selling so many different things on Facebook Marketplace. So it helps to have a loose idea of what you want before you start the search. Try looking for the interior decor style you prefer (maybe Bohemian or Scandinavian). Or specifically search for something like mirrors or desks if you want to start a little smaller. Just make sure to adjust the distance you're willing to travel to help narrow things down. I typically set mine to 20 miles or less.
2. But don't be too picky.
Even though it helps to have an idea of what you want, being too picky can make you lose out on true finds. Say you need a dresser: You can find dozens (nearly hundreds) of unique options and even more modern ones from big stores like West Elm or CB2. But you might have to be open to a little DIY project like swapping mismatched knobs or touching up chipped paint. Pro tip: The FB Market is also a great place to look for classic IKEA pieces like the Tarva dresser or Billy bookcases that you can upcycle.
3. Make sure to ask for measurements.
Get measurements. I can't stress this enough. If the seller doesn't specify the dimensions of an item in the description (sometimes even if they do), ask for them. There is absolutely nothing worse than driving to pick up a find and learning that it is too big to fit in your vehicle or too small for your space. Sometimes, the person selling simply won't have measuring tape. So either bring your own or be prepared for (usually unwelcome) surprises.
4. You can negotiate, but try not to lowball.
This platform is a little like a flea market — you can haggle, ask for bundle deals, and maybe even get the seller to bring the item directly to your door if you offer to pay a little extra. But it's important to take this with a grain of salt because lowballing will get you nowhere fast. If someone wants $100 for a piece but you offer $50, you'll probably end up missing out (and understandably so). Try suggesting $85 instead. That way, both you and the seller can end up feeling good about the sale. Also if you see something that's reasonably priced, you don't necessarily have to haggle.
5. If you want something, don't procrastinate.
If you see something and you love it immediately, don't wait. Chances are if you like it, someone else likes it, too. And once something's gone on FB Marketplace, it's typically gone for good.
6. Offer to pick up immediately.
Many sellers list things and want them gone as soon as possible, so the buyer who's able to pick up an item same-day is usually the most appealing. Even if you're not the first person to notice or message about a listing you can most likely still secure the sale if you can grab it before anyone else.
7. If you can't pick up same-day, offer a deposit.
Deposits help sellers know you're serious about securing a purchase. So if you can't drop everything to grab an FB Market find, consider offering a small percentage of the asking price. Not everyone will agree to this (especially if they're working on a shortened timeline themselves), but some people will gladly hold an item. This is especially helpful when picking up larger items that might require truck rentals or movers.
8. Double check the item BEFORE you leave.
This goes hand-in-hand with confirming the item's dimensions because once you leave a seller, you're likely stuck with whatever you purchased. If the doors on a cabinet don't open properly or an item is covered in pet hair (or worse, pet urine), you need to figure that out before you pay. There's no return policy here, unfortunately. And while most sellers list items in great condition, it's still ultimately up to you to make sure your purchase is a good one.
9. Sanitize! And if you can, opt for contact-free pickup.
Even if we weren't in the middle of a pandemic, it would be incredibly important to sanitize your FB finds before bringing them home. But it is more necessary than ever to completely disenfect your purchases in much the same way you'd clean items from a thrift store. Spray, wipe, and use the proper cleaning tools on everything and if possible, leave the goods outside awhile before bringing them indoors. Also take advantage of contactless pickup whenever you can, or at the very least wear a mask.