How I Made Zero Dollars In Just Three Days with Facebook’s “Calhoun Yard Sale” Group
So you get the gist of what happened here just from having read the title of the post, but I’ll enumerate. I joined a local Facebook group where members buy and sell used stuff. Pit bull puppies. Decorative ceramic figurines of Indian chiefs. Used engagement rings. The complete series of “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” on VHS. That sort of thing.
My family and I have amassed an embarrassing heap of yard sale/thrift store donation-type junk in our garage. Last week I decide to put a few of our unwanted things on the Facebook page. I post only three ads. More than making money, I want to see if the service is worth my time and energy. (The answer to that is “no,” by the way.)
The items I list are as follows:
1) three silk plants – $12 for the group
2) two working Sensao coffee makers – $5 for the pair (Like my father before me, who bought a laser disc player a year before the DVD player came out, I treated myself to a Sensao just before the Kureig hit the market.)
3) wall mirror – $15
Before you judge me for being foolish enough to think that anyone would pay even a cent for fake orchids and antiquated single-cup coffee makers, let me tell you that some pretty trashy merchandise is listed, is SOLD, on this Facebook group. A collection of ten t-shirts, all featuring the logo for “Electric Rayz Tanning Salon” attracted a buyer within five minutes of being listed last week, for example. And size 4X leggins. Printed leggins. Those sold in two shakes.
Anyway, I decide to give it a try. I snap a few shots of the merchandise with my phone, then go to list them. The problem is, I can not figure out how to post the pictures directly to the yard sale page from my phone. (And don’t leave an explanation in the comments section, because I have no interest in learning.)
After 15 minutes of failed attempts, I give up on the phone pictures. I take some photographs with an actual camera and download those pictures instead.
Between fetching the items from the garage, taking the pictures, downloading them and writing the descriptions, I burn up a good thirty minutes. For my efforts, I get no interest in the beta max coffee makers or mirror, and two inquires about the plants.
The first plant question reads: “I’m interested. What condition are they in?”
This is a savvy shopper. Doing her homework, you see. Because what kind of sucker invests in a set of second-hand, fake plants without doing her due diligence?
It occurs to me to remind this potential costumer that these are silk plants up for sale, not orphans or used automobiles, but instead, and fueled by my overzealous sense of duty and penchant for verbosity in all things related to the written-word, I respond with a lengthy description of each of the three plants.
Something in my answer makes the shopper skittish, and she asks if I’ll just sell her the smallest plant. The orchid. The used, fake orchid. And I say, Yeah, sure, you can have it for five bucks, because it seems rude somehow to tell her no, that isn’t worth my time. I have that thing so many women have where misplaced guilt and a pathological need to please others grows densely over, chokes out, the common-sense portion of my brain in much the same fashion that kudzu blankets and destroys the native plants of the southeastern United States.
The plant lady agrees to five bucks for the smallest orchid, and we make plans to rendezvous Monday afternoon, which is two days away. She asks for the make and color of my vehicle. She tells me hers. She drives a “champagne-colored” Toyota Corolla, she says. We exchange phone numbers. The back and forth between us, all the reading and typing, probably adds up to about thirty minutes. This is in addition to the thirty-plus minutes I spent getting the items posted. So we are up to over an hour of my time fooling with this yard sale business. On a Saturday! And the best case scenario, the best possible outcome for which I could hope, is that this woman will actually show up at the park Monday afternoon in her champagne-colored Toyota Corolla and give me five dollars. And for the record, I don’t particularly need five dollars. My motivation for communicating with and meeting her is strictly that I don’t want to appear rude.
Shortly after I finish wheeling and dealing with the champagne-colored Corolla driver, a second question is posted about the plants. It reads, “Are they real?”
Are they real?! What does she mean, I wonder. What does “real” modify in her query? Are they living plants vs artificial plants? Is that what she means? The post clearly says “silk plants.” Maybe she didn’t notice, I think to myself. Or maybe she doesn’t know that “silk” is code for “fake” in decorator lingo. Maybe she wants to know if they are real silk vs some other fabric such as polyester. Maybe she means real silk plants vs a photo of silk plants. I kid you not, this is how much though I give to her three-word question. I draft several responses in my mind, most of which center around explaining what is meant by “silk plant,” but then I think better of it and simply type, “No.”
Okay, so fast forward to Monday, which was two days ago. It’s after work. I’m on my way to the bank. I stop by the park so that I can make the swap when the Corolla shows up. I arrive ten minutes early. I wait until ten minutes after our scheduled meeting time. She doesn’t show, call or text. I sent her a text message.
“Are you coming to get this plant? I need to leave in a minute so that I can get to the bank before they close.” In case she wants to know what my plans are for the rest of the day.
A minute later I get a response. “I’ve decided to pass,” she said.
My anger was keen to such an extent that I nearly reacted with physical violence. It occurred to me to pick up the orchid by its plasticy bloom and hurl it through the air like jilted lovers do in movies. To shout out some sort of obscenity when the pot shatters on the asphalt. And again, it wasn’t about the money. I’d just worked so hard to get this Corolla lady her used plant.
Her text should have contained a brief apology. “Sorry to have made you wait – thx anyway!” Maybe even a smiley face. But there was none of that. Three days. Over two hours of dedicated time. And I made exactly zero dollars.
I don’t have any advise on how to make money with the “Calhoun Facebook Yard Sale” page. If you’ve got give-away stuff from a recently cleaned-out closet, I recommend a charity-run thrift store, free-cycle, buying less crap, or some combination of the three. If you have your heart set on it, though, I’m sure the woman with the “Electric Rayz” t-shirts would be happy to share with you the secrets of her success.