Back in 2019, I posted an item for sale on Craigslist, and the response wasn't just lukewarm, it was non-existent.
Days went by and I didn't receive a single email inquiry (from an actual person). I was shocked. Craigslist always worked for anything I wanted to sell. A friend later informed me that, over the course of a year or so, all of western civilization's local resale market had moved over to Facebook Marketplace.
Yes, the big social network that helps bond old classmates and stoke the political flames of your family members has become THE place to sell all your stuff.
During the 2020 pandemic as we've spent most of our time at home, my wife has been selling and buying all sorts of household items on FB Marketplace. Most of these sales occurred "contactless." She'd leave the items on the porch and someone would Venmo her when they got it. Besides some no-shows, it was a pretty seamless and trustworthy experience.
I don't use Facebook's timeline and social features much anymore. But I checked out the user experience of Facebook Marketplace on their mobile app and desktop and it was, quite simply, delightful. Turns out, an army of Silicon Valley's finest product designers can make something pretty slick.
So with 2020 the Year of the Golf Comeback, and having noticed tons of new golfers at the course and driving range, plus anecdotal evidence of items like push carts going for sale above list price in secondary markets, I figured maybe someone out there could use the golf stuff in darkest corners of my house before the moths get to them.
I've normally unloaded my golf gear at Goodwill or barter them to friends for beer or chores. But for the sake of education I decided to try unloading a potpourri of golf items via FB marketplace in hopes of providing you an idea of what the experience is like, plus any pitfalls or scams to look out for.
Why sell golf equipment on Facebook Marketplace over eBay?
eBay has been around for about as long as the mainstream internet. FB Marketplace has advantages, however. You can list your item for free (at least for now) while eBay collects 10% of the sale price. On FB Marketplace, all sales are final and you don't have to deal with going to the store to ship anything unless you make it available to non-local buyers. Side note: I've struggled selling electronics in the past on eBay and have suspected I was part of a fraud scheme where buyers would returned defective products like smartphones and kept the working item I sent them for themselves. This was a decade ago.
On the flip side, with FB Marketplace all sales are final and you don't have to auction anything. Once you've been paid it's over with.
My initial search of "golf' into local FB listings revealed a ton of used golf carts. Apparently if you want to buy one, they can be scooped up used for about $3,000-$5,000. There are tons of used golf ball lots and used golf clubs. I've never been interested in buying used clubs online. There are just too many variables that can go wrong from a shaft and counterfeit perspective.
I recently sold two bikes on FB Marketplace and was able to get a nice payout (better than the Bikepedia and Bicycle Bluebook estimates), so the confidence in the value of my remaining sporting goods stuff collecting dust was boosted.
My golf closest had nothing as pricey as these nice bikes, but I did have a lot of languishing apparel and accessories that might fetch at least a few bucks for my next tee time. To get a sense for the FB Marketplace I decided to post 10 items: a wide range of golf items from fairly appealing tech and clubs to shirts and balls that I typically donate to Goodwill.
Steps to sell your items on Facebook Marketplace
Do some market research to determine a price (Can I still buy this product new? Are there many similar items for sale locally on FB already? If so, you can tell for how long these items have been listed for to get a sense of their demand.)
Make sure the item is clean and/or in working condition and take photos from all sides in a well-lit place. Try and get a closeup especially if there are any visible markings. A listing can initially only have four photos but you can send additional photos to interested buyers who message you.
You can post items for sale on your smart phone or desktop within a minute or two. I found the Facebook mobile app to be excellent and easy for posting items.
Price your item expecting that anyone seriously interested in it will probably try and chop 20% off the list price.
You can choose "local only" where they will come to your house or meeting point, or select the delivery option (delivery widens the net of buyers but now you're on the hook to ship it). The Shipping option is relatively painless. You can choose between a prepaid shipping label from USPS or ship using your own. Then you select one of three package weights ($3.50, $5 and $8). Additional shipping costs occur if a package exceeds one cubic foot (1728 cubic inches), which a golf club box would certainly go over.
Billions of humans are on Facebook so the mass audience is there. Getting your item seen through all the platform's mass of content is the tough part.
Make sure your images are good and your listing has plenty of keywords in it. Tag the item to the appropriate product departments. For additional exposure, you can share your listing to your Facebook profile or direct message it to interested friends. Or, join local or relevant groups for buying and selling and post items there.
My selling experience on Facebook Marketplace
I really hate having social media on my iPhone since it inevitably leads to mindless scrolling and interruptions. When you've got multiple items for sale, your phone constantly lights up with push notifications. The most common message, "Is this still for sale?" comes often. Nine times out of 10 you never hear from them. You may get someone who sounds interested and then they no show. Others are overly chatty potential customers and incessant hagglers. I'm not sure posting something for $5 is even worth the clutter it leads to your digital life.
So did anyone on Facebook buy my golf gear?
Eight of my ten golf items are still sitting here. I did move my best item within about a week: a gently used but 7-year-old Odyssey putter for $60 (I listed it for $80). I sold it in person and the guy talked me down $20 pretty easily.
Then I sold my $5 box of mixed origin shag balls. Only problem is I watched the guy take them off my porch but he never Venmo'd me. I messaged him to remind him, and he thanked me but never paid. I ended up giving him a one-star rating. Lesson learned: if you have some things that are actually valuable, make sure the Venmo arrives before you provide access to the goods.
The apparel and tech items haven't received a nibble. I did post these in October, the tail-end of golf season, so that might have something to do with it. Maybe come spring I will renew the listings and have more success.
Payments on Facebook Marketplace: Words of caution
So giving away the item before I received a Venmo payment turned out to be a bad idea. Facebook suggests accepting only cash or Paypal, and not check or Venmo. Why Paypal over Venmo? The differences of these two platforms owned by the same company are pretty slim for the casual user. I used Venmo for one of my items and it worked well. Venmo is owned by PayPal and appears to have bank-grade encryption and security. The only differences between Venmo and PayPal, it appears, is that Venmo require "contacts" or "Friends" in order to transfer money. Venmo's initial limit is $299 until your identity is confirmed, then it's up to $4,999.
I've seen complaints on message boards of buyers asking to have stuff shipped and the items never arrives after payment. It appears that eBay has more safeguards in place for this than FB Marketplace, in part because sellers have trust scores and selling history.
The verdict on Facebook Marketplace: Overall, I think Facebook Marketplace is better for items that have a greater audience (everyone needs a sofa) than golf. I think I'll go back to bartering my golf stuff for beer.