Yard sales are usually weekend affairs held in front yards with shoppers hunting whatever they can find strewn across tables or packed into open boxes.
With the advent of social networking sites like Facebook, however, “online yard sales” are more and more common — which, according to bargain shopper Ana Montoya, is the better venue.
“Stuff for sale in Fort Gibson/Muskogee” and “Muskogee County Online Sales” are just two of many area Facebook pages with items for sale.
“Right now I don’t really go to traditional yard sales,” Montoya said. “The online ones I use are groups you join on Facebook, where it’s really more like people auctioning things off.”
The home health aide and mother of three said online bargain shopping proves more “convenient” for her.
“When you’re on there, you’re not just on one site, you’re on three or four,” Montoya said. “Plus, I’m not driving around, wasting my gas and having to keep my kids in the car.”
Her children were the reason Montoya started looking for deals in the first place, she said.
“After my second child, things started getting really expensive,” she said. “I started with normal yard sales, and started going straight for any clearance racks I could find.”
An acquaintance introduced Montoya to Internet shopping, and it became her favorite way to browse.
“When someone told me about these online sales and I started looking, I just started doing my buying that way,” she said. “For example, you can find brand name clothes for somewhere around $5. That’s how I shop for all my kids now.”
Her proclivity for online deal hunting leads friends and family to enlist Montoya’s help in finding things, she said.
“I don’t just buy for myself, I buy for other people on there, too,” she said. “The other day I found my friend a
big microwave for $20. She couldn’t believe me when I said I only paid that much for it.”
Her best find remains a washer, dryer and Whirlpool refrigerator for “under $500,” which she hunted down for her parents, she said.
“If I’m looking for something, I can pretty much always find it on there. People are always coming to me because they know I find the good stuff,” she said. Montoya has a few tips for those also after “the good stuff.”
“Everyone I’ve come across is willing to make an offer,” she said. “If they have a certain price already, nobody should be afraid to say, ‘Hey, can you lower that?’ They want to make money, and they want to sell the item, so they’ll probably take an offer.”
When picking up a purchase, Montoya also recommends public meeting places like gas stations or laundromats.
“You want to meet with the seller someplace safe and browse the item, so you can make sure it’s the same thing you saw when you were on the Internet,” she said.
It’s also best to shop with acquaintances if possible, Montoya said.
“Most of the people I’ve met on there are actually just friends of friends that requested me to join this, and so it’s basically just everyone you know from someone else,” she said.
Potential online shoppers may also have better luck at night, she said.
“All the kids are asleep, so these moms are on there putting stuff up,” Montoya said.