Facebook Yard Sale Meeting by Michael Titus

FaceBook Yard Sale Meeting

I left the secret area I call my “home” just before noon. I was in disguise. I’d forgotten my sunglasses, but I was wearing different colored socks. No, wait. That’s my usual look. Well, anyway, I looked sort of fat. Here’s the deal. Nobody knows me by sight anyway, so none of the above really matters. It was a dark and stormy night -- not when I set out on this journey, but when I received the information about it from a guy who knew a guy who’d told him. I cannot say more than that, or I might get followed; that would make me nervous, and when I get nervous I start writing stuff for Spencer Daily. Let’s just say I looked like everyone else in town. I blended in.

I was on my way to the lower portion of the Bowman Street parking lot. As I approached this meeting area, I noticed a large group of people gathered -- and I was early. I had not botched my instructions. This was the right place. People were huddled around, chatting. Some were in groups, some by themselves. All of them had packages, in boxes, bags, or crates, by their feet. More cars arrived as I walked around. I wanted to poke around in the packages these people had, but this was not a flea market: this stuff had already been sold. On FaceBook.

Still mostly inconspicuous, I walked toward a woman who’d  been keeping an eye on me. Time to start prying -- I mean, begin the investigation into this phenomena. It was thus I met Jennifer Lawrence. I went deep undercover. I introduced myself, handed her a Spencer Daily.com business card, and produced my digital voice recorder. Innocently looking like a dim-witted reporter, I blurted out “Hey. What’s going on around here?”

“This is the FaceBook Yard Sale. We meet here every Wednesday at noon to exchange whatever we’ve bought or sold on FaceBook.” I asked her how many people came here. “On average, about 40.” How long have you been doing this? “Almost a year now. Here’s my friend, Michelle Nichols.” I turned to look at the new arrival. Before I could ask, she said “I’ve also been doing this for about a year.” That’s how good I am at this. I glanced back at Jennifer. “I’m from Billings. We have people from Newton, Looneyville, Clay, Calhoun, even some from Jackson County.” See? I don’t even have to ask the question!
I should get a raise in salary. Or celery. Peanut butter on celery is good. But back to the point of it all.

“This is just great,’ said Jennifer. “You can get rid of all the stuff around your house you don’t want or can’t use anymore. It’s not knick-knacks or junk. There’s clothing, household items, tools, home-made craft items, even cars. The only thing not permitted is guns.”

“Guns are not allowed to be sold through FaceBook,” Michelle added. “But everything else is.”

“You don’t make a lot of money,” said Jennifer. “But you make some extra. Dimes and quarters add up to dollars. It helps between paydays. It helps pay for medication, and other bills. But it’s a lot of work. You have to form your own FaceBook group, all of us do, and then you have to post pictures, decide on the best pricing, add descriptions, and when you sell something, you have to bag it with the price and name, come on down here and hope the buyer shows up. Most of the time they do. But, like in everything else, there can be drama.”

There is no Central Group on FaceBook to “advertise.” As Jennifer explained, each person has to make their own personal group. But then they can post to other people’s groups, and thus it becomes a commercial circle, a community. As more people join in, your own posts get noticed more. But these Wednesday meetings aren’t just about making money. It’s the online world fostering an offline social group.

“You make new friends all the time,” Jennifer told me, as I noticed a woman pushing a nice looking office chair across the lot. “You become a family.” The men and women were about equal in number. There was a pause in our conversation as Jennifer made a transaction. “I look forward to Wednesdays now,” she continued. “It’s like therapy. Look around.” I did so. There was a happiness created here, by the folk who loved to get together. I heard much laughter, chiding, story-telling. I saw hugs and handshakes. I liked the idea of something from the behind-the-computer world of FaceBook sprouting into flesh and blood life, a human garden of people from all walks of life, meeting face to face.

“I love it,” said Jennifer, as if she could read my mind. I thanked her and made my way home. I thought they should perhaps have an ice-cream vendor on hand, since it was a hot day, and well…ice cream. I wish I’d suggested that. But there’s always the next Wednesday. High noon. Buy, sell, trade. Make friends. But I had writing to do. As Jennifer said, “I love it.” But I caught myself looking around the apartment, looking for something that someone else might want. I could, at the very least, sell my apartment. But I don’t think my landlord would be amused. Before I began this article, I logged onto FaceBook. Have a look at your friends list. You may find a yard sale group. And that will lead to others. Keep it up, and I may see you on Wednesday too. Stranger things have happened.