Chances are that you’ve seen an influx of visitors in and out of your neighbor’s driveway, witnessed a quick exchange from across the street, and seen hundreds of women (and men) walk away from your neighbor’s house with a smile on their face.
The traditional yard sale is taking on a new face these days and it’s on Facebook.
Several weeks ago, a friend of mine introduced me to a local group on Facebook called Beg, Buy,Barter, and Sell Bakersfield / Kern County (BBBS for short). In short, it’s a group of locals dedicated to buying and selling anything for any price, without the hassle of laying everything out in the driveway at six o’clock in the morning, and trying to deter the early birds.
On any given day or night, you can find the group actively bartering and negotiating on anything; handbags, shoes, baby clothes, dishes, even cars are all bought and sold!
I’ve personally sold many things on the group, and the extra cash has helped pad the Christmas fund and sponsored the occasional Starbucks run.
I decided to contact the group’s founder April Poulton, and pick her brain on the background of BBBS.
Trying To Be Super Mom: What prompted you to start BBBS?
April Poulton: I have always been a yard sale and eBay junkie and I thought this would be a great way to find deals while sitting in my home where I wouldn’t have to spend gas driving from sale to sale or pay shipping to have things mailed to me.
TTBSM: How long ago did you start the group, and how has it changed since it started?
AP: I started the group about a month ago and it has grown so much.
TTBSM: Membership seems to have doubled overnight! (2,500+ at the time of this writing) Did you ever think that BBBS would become so popular? Do you think you can keep up with the group on your own or do you think you'll be adding additional administrators in the future?
AP: Shhhh. I actually do have two "Silent Admin". They help to keep an eye out for me but do not identify themselves as admin. It takes so much time for me to monitor the page it is beginning to pull away from my family. I never, ever, ever thought the BBBS site would grow the way it has. It’s amazing!
TTBSM: What’s the most expensive item you’ve seen posted?
AP: I have seen vehicles and homes posted for sale. I even purchased a travel trailer, but it was a HOT deal!
TTBSM: What's the strangest item you’ve seen posted?
AP: Recently someone posted that they were looking for shrunken heads. VERY UNUSUAL! If you don’t know what that is, Google it.
TTBSM: Is the group "self-policing" (for lack of a better term) or do you keep complete control?
AP: I have kept complete control to this point but have found that I have several who have jumped in and assisted with reiterating the rules for me. Most recently, I have added an additional administrator to help with keeping the negativity and cattiness out of the group.
TTBSM: How do you handle disputes between sellers and buyers, if at all?
AP: Ugh. This has been one of my worst enemies! When I get up in the morning I can guarantee you I will have ATLEAST 6 messages from members with some type of issue. I just keep an eye on things and if people get out of hand or make it to where I have to spend too much time on them, I will just remove them. I don’t have time to deal with the same person causing disputes every day.
TTBSM: Have you had any problems with members selling pirated copies of items, knock-offs, etc.? How have those situations been handled and do you think it could become a problem in the future?
AP: Selling illegal items has been a small problem within the group: pirated movies, knock-off purses and even "replica make-up". I usually ask the member to remove the items and if they don’t, I ban them from the page and remove the post myself. I personally believe its each person’s business what they do on their own time/page but I can’t allow it to be posted on my page.
TTBSM: Do you allow direct sales on the site (like Scentsy, Avon, Mary-Kay, etc.) and what, if any special rules apply to those members?
AP: I currently allow direct sales, but ask that they only post anything regarding their business once a week. I really would rather focus on the "Deals" that are out there.
TTBSM: Do you allow clothing items?
AP: Absolutely. I do ask that people create albums especially with clothing because what you will commonly see happen with the site is people will take a picture with one t-shirt in each picture and label it for a dollar. They will have 10 different t-shirts and post 10 separate pictures. Every time there is a new post, it pushes all the others down, thus not all posts have much exposure. If people create albums, it only makes one post and allows other posts to be visible longer.
TTBSM: What's your professional background, if any, and how has it helped you manage the group and your family life?
AP: I was a Human Resources Manager for about 8 years. In Human Resources you meet and work with so many different personalities. When I run into difficult people in the group, it reminds me of some employees I have worked with previously...
TTBSM: What prompted you to be a SAHM?
AP: I had the opportunity to stay home when I was pregnant with our second son, and took it! My oldest was 1.5 at the time. My two boys are such blessings and it’s been amazing to watch them grow and the changes they make daily are unbelievable!
TTBSM: Any success stories?
AP: I purchased a 100 year old amazing piano! In my opinion anyone who has been able to Beg, Barter, Buy or Sell has a success story. I also received a message from one of our members stating she wasn’t sure how she was going to pay her bills last month and with everything she was able to sell on the site, she paid her bills. That’s what we are all about!
I posted on my personal Facebook page last week about BBBS and asked if anyone was as addicted as I am! A few of the ladies from my Bunco group chimed in on the subject.
Ashleigh said, “I haven't bought or sold anything, but I'm constantly checking stuff out.”
Alisa said, “Wow! I'm too scared to sell anything. Eep. But I've bought a few things, and I'm constantly searching. Once I missed a $20 Keurig (you know, the pod coffee thing) by 8 minutes...I’ll never let myself live that one down.”
Shay says her husband’s had to rein her in. She said about her addiction to BBBS, “Meeeeeee!!!! (My husband) won't let me buy any more stuff :-( On the plus side, I've sold a lot of stuff! We've made over $300!”
Chances are a lot more local families (mine included!) will be taking advantage of this group; it’s a great and easy resource to use instead of all the labor involved in the traditional yard sale!
Thank you, April, for taking the time out of your VERY busy schedule to answer to my questions!
If you’d like to check out Beg, Buy,Barter, and Sell Bakersfield / Kern County for yourself, you can take a look here.
**Remember, I’m still holding a great giveaway for the FULL LINE of Boudreaux’s Butt Paste until November 18, 2011. Stop by and enter here!**