Online garage sales can be scary places to shop, and not just for the reasons that immediately come to mind, like the murder reasons or the grab-your-stuff-and-run-without-paying reasons. There’s also the complete anonymity of online shopping. Can you trust the seller? Will the buyer actually show up with money or try to make a shady trade at the last minute? And then there’s the never ending Craigslist haggle emails!
Yardsale wants to make online neighborhood selling easier and feel like you’re actually selling to your neighbors, not meeting a shifty guy you found under the bridge. Originally only available in and around San Francisco, Yardsale has recently expanded to include the entire United States. Can Yardsale be a real alternative to all that Craigslisting, though?
First thing to know about Yardsale is that it’s not anonymous. You’ll have to either create an account with your email address or login with Facebook before you can even get to browsing. I think this was a great move on the part of the developers, because it does create at least the loose framework of a community. Unlike on Craigslist, no one is hiding behind an anonymized email address.
As soon as you’re logged in, tap Nearby in the menu bar at the bottom to start looking for things for sale near you. The first time I did this, I found a sketchy hyperbaric chamber twenty miles from me and that was it, but two weeks later, there’s a lot more for sale on Yardsale in my area. If you’re not seeing a whole lot, start scrolling down, and the Yardsale logo up top will flip around to a couple of search options. Tap Fresh to see the newest Yardsale listings, and you’ll be given the options to enlarge your search radius.
Browsing Yardsale’s Wares
When you find something you really dig, tap it in the search results to open up the listing. Yardsale listings are way more attractive than Craigslist listings, and the pictures are usually better, too. Liking a listing allows you to share it with friends on social media, but it would be even better if the listing were saved to your profile so you could return to it later. In the listing, you can also look at photos, ask questions, or make an offer.
There’s less trepidation when asking a question in Yardsale, because although you are in theory using your real identity (or at least a profile tied to your real identity) you’re not actually using your email address. The seller will receive an email from you, but it goes through Yardsale and isn’t attached to your email address.
Likewise, when you make an offer, you may feel more likely to haggle because the seller only gets your contact info if you come to an agreement. However, the Yardsale profile helps to prevent spammers and will probably discourage people from being jerks, something that unfortunately isn’t uncommon in anonymous communication. As a bonus, Yardsale has some adorable built in haggling lingo if you’re at a loss as to what to say to your seller. Try, “My dog needs this,” or, “Please? (That’s all I got.)”
The listing was just a bit buggy, though, in that the picture count didn’t always match the actual number of pictures I could look at in the listings. For instance, one listing had eight pictures listed, but I only saw four. I don’t know if that’s because there were only four pictures and the count was wrong, or if there were supposed to be more pictures and they were hidden. If there are supposed to be more pictures (especially if they’re showing flaws), I want to see them before I make an offer.
Selling Your Stuff
There are four default categories and the catch-all “everything else,” so most of what I wanted to sell fell into that fifth category. If the search seemed to be based on categories at all, this would be a problem as not everything falls into either “bike” or “camera,” but since the search is largely location based, the lack of categories isn’t a huge deal.
After you’ve chosen a category, you can start snapping pictures right there in the app, and this may be the best things about Yardsale. Taking pictures, editing them and uploading them separately isn’t really all that difficult, but can still be the most annoying part about listing stuff online. By doing all of that in the app — organically as part of the listing process — Yardsale removed a huge headache. You’re allowed a lot of pictures on Yardsale, too. The app didn’t even slow down when I tried to add seventeen shots to a listing, but since the listings eventually make their way to Craigslist and Craigslist does place limits, you’ll want to keep your snaps under control.
Once you’re done with the picture, you can set your price or choose to give your stuff away for free. Here’s where you add a description too, but you’ll be limited to 120 characters. Share to Facebook or Twitter to promote your stuff to your friends, because really, shouldn’t your buds get first dibs? When you’re done, you can also text or email your listing to anyone else you think is interested.
Yardsale will ask to set up push notifications once you’ve completed a listing. This is so buyers can communicate with you, since Yardsale won’t be releasing any of your contact information until you’ve struck a deal. The only way to get in touch with potential bargain-seekers is through the app. Yardsale will also create a Craigslist listing for you, and Yardsale will be fielding all of those Craigslist emails too, and sending you notifications through the app.
Yardsale has a lot going for it. Everytime I sell something on Craigslist, I see a flood of spam. I also have to deal with some plain flaky people who email for days and then never show up. Whenever I buy something, I wonder if this deal can be real and whether I can trust the seller. It’s nice to have Yardsale keeping those emails out of my inbox and my email address away from the crazies while creating a little community of sellers and buyers.
On the other hand, there just aren’t that many people on Yardsale — at least not in my neck of the woods — and I imagine it would be a lot worse in a less urban area. If I wanted to pick up a used dresser, I would be in luck because there was a dresser on Yardsale — but only one. As more people join and start using Yardsale in earnest, availability will become less of an issue, but it’s a major stumbling block right now.
All in all, Yardsale is a great way to set up listings on Craigslist and manage communications with buyers, and for that, if nothing else, it’s worth the download. It’s not great for browsing listings though, and it will probably take more time and more sellers adopting the app before it becomes really useful to buyers. In the meantime, at least it’s better looking than Craigslist.