B/S/T Part 1: The Basics
Remember when Facebook groups were things like, "People Named Michelle" or "Pepsi Haters of Missouri State University"? Ahh, simpler times. Along with angry political posts popping up on your newsfeed every day, Facebook has evolved to become one of the biggest places on the web to B/S/T.
Buy. Sell. Trade.
You can B/S/T literally anything online, but let’s discuss the huge world of baby and kids’ clothing. There are so many great deals out there, especially for "name brand" and boutique children's items. As a parent you know how quickly kids outgrow their clothes. B/S/T is a great way to help other moms save money while putting some cash in your own pocket. Another thing to consider is that if you're in love with expensive boutique clothes but don't see how you can justify spending that much, the resale value is great! Take Freshly Picked Moccasins, for example. They're well-made and adorable, but $60 is a lot for a pair of shoes that will be outgrown in a few months. Wait until they go on sale for $45 (Black Friday or Memorial Day), then you can resell them for at least $30 when your kid outgrows them. Your $60 moccs now only cost you $15.
No matter what brands you’re into, I can pretty much guarantee that there is a B/S/T group for you on Facebook. But you better know how to play the game because some of these moms take it VERY seriously.
First, whether you want to buy or sell, you need to have a PayPal account. Even if you’re not into the B/S/T game, you should have PayPal. It’s super easy to set up and it’s often required if you want to shop on awesome sites like eBay and Etsy.
Next, search Facebook groups for some of your favorite children’s clothing brands. I belong to groups for Janie and Jack, Baby Gap, Old Navy, Gymboree, and some smaller shops like Freshly Picked and June and January. If you’re into boutique styles like Matilda Jane or Giggle Moon, those brands are easy to find as well. Most groups require approval to join, and some groups require an invitation. Once you join one or two groups you’ll begin to hear about others.
Stalk the boards for a while. Get a feel for how things work before you jump into buying and selling. And don’t forget to read the rules. There is usually a pinned post at the top of the group page outlining the group’s rules for buying and selling. Each group is different, but there are some general guidelines to how this whole thing works.
Buying is fairly simple. Someone will post an item for sale. You post your email address (the one that’s linked to your PayPal account) in the comments, and the seller sends you an invoice for your item. (If you’re not comfortable posting your email in the comments, most groups allow you to say something like “pm PayPal” in the comments, then you can send the seller a personal message.) The main group page will show the most recent sale items first, so if you’re looking for something specific (like a dress, or a specific size), you may want to use the search feature within the group to find exactly what you’re looking for.
Where buying gets tricky is when you get involved in a flash sale or purge. Flash sales/purges are when sellers have a large amount of clothes, and they sell in the comments of a main sale thread. The items are usually numbered, so to buy, you put your email and the number of the item you want. Things can get pretty crazy during a flash sale so you’ve got to have fast fingers to be the first one to claim an item! We’ll talk more about flash sales in Part 3 of this series.
Selling one item is simple. You create a post describing the item, and the first person to post their email in the comments gets it. You send an invoice, they pay, you ship. I'll share how to invoice and ship in Part 2.
When listing items for sale, make sure you take good, clear, photos. Show any holes or stains. Give all relevant details, such as size, brand, price, and condition. You’ll also want to disclose if there is smoking in the home or if there are pets. You do not want to have to issue a refund to a buyer because you did not disclose something about the item. That being said, as long as you use the invoice feature through PayPal, you’re protected from fraudulent claims from your buyer.
At first, try posting one item for sale to get a feel for it. Once you’ve done that a few times, you can try having your own flash sale! I’ll tell you everything you need to know about flash sales in Part 3.
I’ll be honest; I’ve never conducted a trade, but there are some groups that have such hard-to-find items that sellers are ONLY interested in a trade. The best way to do it is to mutually agree upon a price for your items, and invoice each other for that amount. This keeps PayPal involved so you’re covered in case of a lost or damaged item, or fraud.
So why go through all this trouble instead of just taking your clothes to a consignment shop? Even if you aren’t selling “name brand” items, you’re still going to make a lot more selling online than you would taking it to consignment. You may only get 25 cents for a Carters onesie at a consignment shop, whereas you could probably get at least $1-2 for it on the B/S/T boards. When you buy as many baby clothes as I do, that can really add up.
Last thing. There are a lot of acronyms in the B/S/T world. You’ll pick up on them as you go along, but here’s a cheat sheet for you to use in the meantime:
- EUC - Excellent Used Condition (No stains, tears, fading, etc.)
- VGUC - Very Good Used Condition (may have slight fading, or a tiny stain)
- GUC - Good Used Condition (may have a couple of stains, or heavy fading)
- Play - not an acronym, but the last of the conditions. Item has been heavily used and may have multiple stains, holes, etc.
- WW - Wash Wear
- SF - Smoke free
- PIOG - Posted in other groups
- CP or XP - cross posted
- PP - PayPal
- PM - Private Message
- FTO - For Trade Only
- PS - Plus Shipping
I know I’ve just thrown a TON of information at you, so please ask questions in the comments! I remember when I first started doing B/S/T on Facebook it was super confusing, so no question is “dumb!”
P.S. Let's be friends! Click here to follow Lillian Abbey on Facebook.