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The double-edged sword of Facebook sales

The king of social media has evolved from relationship status updates to a place to buy tickets for half of a school dance recital.
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It’s a parental nightmare.

My kids have a year-end dance recital coming up. Not being on the ball enough to purchase tickets as soon as they went on sale, I missed the boat. The show sold out within four hours.

My in-laws were coming, but I had no tickets for my husband and I, much less them.

I consulted the dance studio and was quickly told not to worry, they had set up a Facebook group where parents could buy, sell and swap tickets.

For the next two weeks I was practically married to that Facebook group: subscribing to all the updates and commenting within seconds once anyone posted they had tickets available. Tickets went for more than the original price – parents were effectively scalping them – and then some became available for half the show. Parents whose kid danced in the first half were selling their seats for the second, and vice versa.

In an effort to solve the sold out problem. These online sales and swaps ultimately made it so much more complicated, time consuming and stressful, but selling things on Facebook is popular.

Every month, Facebook Marketplace is used by 800 million people in 70 countries, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Launched in October 2016, the most popular categories are furniture; babies and kids; and women’s clothing and shoes, according to the social network.

Marketplace is one thing, but sales groups bypassing the feature are just as popular.

When we first moved to Chilliwack and were looking for a piece of furniture, we were directed to the “bidding site,” one of two Facebook groups where locals post items and over the course of 24 hours, members bid through the comments. Since you can’t see them as exactly on a mobile device as they appear on a computer, they even have administrators monitoring the time codes.

Competition is stiff for things like backyard playsets, vintage dressers and fiddle leaf figs, but I’ve also seen people selling swimsuits, half-used packages of diapers and the oddest: three bottles of Fuze tea, “unopened.”

I once bought a toy car for my kids, and when I went to pick it up, the whole house was set up like a garage sale, with items lined up at the door ready to be picked up. When I stopped into Circa Vintage, a nearby antique shop, I asked the owner, Darby, about the page. A passionate treasure hunter, I thought for sure she’d be on there frequently keeping her eyes open for items of value others might not notice – but in fact the opposite was true. She said she couldn’t remember the last time she bought something there. “If I tried, I’d be on it all the time,” she said.

That’s the double-edged sword of Facebook sales groups and the marketplace feature. It’s seemingly more convenient than ever to sell or buy items online, but you have to miss the days when you could just purchase dance recital tickets the old-fashioned way, or troll garage sales instead of scrolling.

And for readers who might have one, I’m still looking for one more dance ticket, first half of the show. Tag me in the comments (on Facebook) or send me a DM.

Ada Slivinski is the Founder & Principal of Jam PR, a boutique agency focused on helping small businesses get big exposure. You can reach her at [email protected]