This year, I’ve established my new favorite hangout spot. It’s not a local coffee shop, or the Home Sense that just opened across the street from my full time job, nor is it a thrift store.
Actually, it’s sort of like a thrift store. It’s what I refer to as a giant virtual garage sale…
It’s Facebook Marketplace.
Our home is nowhere near fully furnished, and Facebook Marketplace has been my go-to for finding used and new quality furniture for our home.
I use the word quality not in a pretentious way, but I think it’s important to know that if you’re patient enough, you can find some amazing, high-end pieces to furnish your home with via MP. You don’t have to settle for Ikea just because you’re on a budget (nothing wrong with Ikea, but more on that later).
I often hear “ugh. You’re so lucky you found that! I never find anything good on marketplace,” and then probe a little more and realize that they aren’t using MP the way they should be.
So that’s what sparked todays post. I felt the need to raise awareness on how to shop MP because I truly believe it can be a treasure trove…if you’re using it properly.
Here are my top tips when browsing the world’s biggest and best virtual garage sale.
01. Patience and persistence
This one is hard for me, because um….I don’t have patience.
But I am persistent.
(more about proof that persistence paid off with my nightstands in this post).
By persistence, I’m not saying be a pain in the ass when you’re asking someone if you can buy their item. I mean be persistent with your search. But I guess if you want to let someone know you’re *very* serious about buying their item, you can send two messages. But no more than 2 at a time before they reply…it’s like dating.
My greatest tip is to refresh marketplace every ~2-3 hours.
It sounds time consuming, but all I do is hit refresh and see what’s popped up. It’s like refreshing Instagram.
I have noticed that the FB algorithm recognizes the items I search for more than once, so if I’ve been looking for a green velvet chair and hit refresh, results for green velvet chairs will show up (as long as people describe it properly and not just post it with the word “chair,” because then it’s nearly impossible to find).
Sometimes, I hit refresh and a hot item for an amazing price pops up, and I’ve been lucky enough to grab it. Like this Milo Baughman burl table I snagged in Greenwich CT the other night:
Bonus tip: People are usually going through their stuff on Saturdays and Sundays and I notice new items are popping up every few minutes when I’m refreshing often on the weekends.
Unless it’s a hot item that’s priced lower than it should be, I always ask if they can do better on the price (in a very polite way). This doesn’t mean low-ball sellers, but if I do my research and find that a similar item is going for a bit cheaper, then I (again, politely) ask if they can do better with the price.
On the contrary, if I find something I really want and it’s already reasonably priced, I’ll offer the seller a little more than what they’re asking so they know I’m serious. If I have time, I’ll also tell them I can pick up ASAP and pay cash.
Remember…always be kind and personable 🙂
03. Check if a seller has other items for sale
If you’re interested in an item, click on the sellers name in the actual item post, and a list of other items they have for sale will show up.
I usually scroll through to see if they have anything else I’m interested in and a few times I’ve negotiated picking up 2+ items from them at one time. And even if I see a high-end item I’m not interested in, I still may click on their name to see what else they are selling that could interest me.
04. Search in a large and small radius
The marketplace algorithm is one I have yet to figure out, because sometimes I’ll search “vintage velvet chairs” within a 60 mile radius and I don’t see many options, and then I’ll narrow the search to within 20 miles and so many more come up. I haven’t quite figured out why that is yet, but just wanted to say that you should be searching near and far (as far as you’d be willing to drive).
If I’m searching for a larger item like a chair, I ask myself what’s the farthest I’d be willing to travel (usually ~60 miles). If it’s a smaller item like a lamp, I probably wouldn’t drive farther than ~25 miles.
Another thing I do when I’m driving to pick up something that’s 30+ minutes away is search for other items in that area to see if there’s anything worth picking up while I’m there. This is tricky as schedules need to align while you’re picking up the original item you drove there for.
Like the other night, I drove 1 hour to Greenwich, CT and for the two days prior to driving there, I kept searching Greenwich to see if there was anything else worth picking up while I was there picking up the Milo table.
I found one thing, but that person wasn’t available during the time I would be there. It was worth a shot!
05. Keywords are key
Most people don’t know how to properly describe the item they are selling, which means you need to get creative with your search terms. Think of all the ways to describe something you’re looking for and use those words to search every 2-3 hours.
Countless times I’ve searched “burl chest” and 5-10 items show up, but then I’ll search “vintage wood chest” and 30+ burl pieces show up.
I keep a running list of keywords of items I’m searching for and use that list to quickly search every few hours. The list is very long, but here are some examples:
- Antique mahogany chest
- Modern velvet chairs
- Linen chairs
- Brass lamps
- Vintage oil painting
- English roll arm (insert chair or sofa)
- Natural area rugs
- Brass chandelier
I sometimes use variations of those keywords and include like brand names, colors, textures and styles (i.e. modern green dining chairs, CB2 chairs or velvet chairs). Using various and broader keywords means more sorting but there could very well be a diamond in the rough. It’s happened to me multiple times!
06. Know what quality looks like
We all know about the modern brands; West Elm, Anthropologie, CB2, etc., but there are great furniture brands that have been around for a long time which some people may have never heard of.
Sellers sometimes don’t realize what brand of furniture they are selling, but in time you will be able to spot a brand based on the style and characteristics of that item, and the seller may just not know what brand it is. You also should have an eye for what’s quality and what’s cheap looking for obvious reasons.
These are a few of the brands I frequently see when scrolling MP, and I consider to be high-end (aka they make quality furniture):
- Ethan Allen (I see this brand the most)
- Century Furniture
- Milo Baughman
- Mitchell Gold
Look – if I wanted a new Ikea chair, I would just go to Ikea because it’s cheap to begin with, so I probably wouldn’t buy an Ikea chair off MP. Instead, I’d rather buy a quality piece of furniture for a great price that will stand the test of time. Nom’sayin’?
07. Furnishing your home won’t happen overnight
If you haven’t already noticed, browsing and buying items from MP takes time. I don’t expect to be able to furnish our home within the next few months…let alone within the next year.
There will be times when I’m way too busy to hit refresh every few hours and there will be times where I get lucky and find a few things in one week. This isn’t Wayfair…you’re relying on someone else to post what you’re looking for. But when they do, you better jump all over it.
Just remember…patience and persistence.
08. Be safe. Stalk people.
This is more of a stranger-danger tip, but part of the reason I love marketplace over craigslist is because you can stalk the seller. If the seller is a female, has photos of her kids, and has real comments from real people on her page and we are jiving via messenger, I don’t feel the need to bring my husband with me. However, if not everything checks out but I’m *pretty* sure it’s fine, I’ll bring him.
Looking for some LOL-worthy FB marketplace finds? Check out my “FB Marketplace” story highlight in my IG bio.
Have you ever used FB marketplace before? I’d love to hear about your finds. And if you haven’t, I hope this was helpful!
Great Post! I also have a running list of search words which is like 50 plus items for general searching. Your list would make a great follow up post!
I also use my husbands FB account for marketplace. I find that this alleviates a lot of the creep factor AND people tend to be more responsive when I negotiate. Thanks, sexism! 😭
Thanks so much for reading, Lauren! So glad to hear you also have a list! LOL at using your husbands Facebook. Good idea!!!
This was so helpful-i’ve Been trying to find some furniture and some more expensive kids toys and always having the worst luck-turns our I had no idea how to use it! Thanks so much!
Amy I’m so glad to hear that you found this helpful!! Good luck with finding furniture and toys on MP!
Great post! I have been furnishing our new 3800+ sq ft monster with thrift and antique finds, largely using FB marketplace. You definitely gave me some common sense pointers re. scheduling out of town trips. I am picking up two gorgeous vintage cream velvet channel back chairs I am picking up Sunday morning…and am now scouring the local area for other finds!
Ack, well apparently I needed to grammatically murder that comment, but still, thanks! Your bedroom makeover was one of the rooms that inspired me to remember that I was a dedicated observer while my ex was in design school, and really start pursuing classic design principles in putting this house together. One day it will be a showstopper! 🙂
Jess, thanks so much for reading – I’m glad you found it helpful! I love hearing other FB MP success stories. It really is such a great place to go to when you don’t have all the $$$ in the world to spend on furnishing your home! Thank you for the kind words <3 I would love for you to share photos of your house and what you found on marketplace!
Michelle Catapang says
You have a nice content! Your ideas are helpful and you explained your thoughts well. Thank you!
Tarek Jahan says
Thanks AGLASSOFBOVINO for the tips given.
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Sarah L Arness says
Hi, I hope you are still reading these comments! Thank you for a very informative article! I keep seeing some lovely furniture pieces on Facebook Market Place at very low prices in other states that say they will ship. Would you trust these deals that seem too good to be true? It seems like you purchase items that you can personally look at. Have you purchased items from out of state like the ones I described? Thank you!