Online resale marketplaces gain popularity on college campuses

Online resale marketplaces gain popularity on college campuses
March 18, 2017 Alex Jekowsky

This post is written by Hailey Lee (@haileylee139) a former USA TODAY Collegiate Correspondent and was written for USA TODAY College News. You can find the original article here.

College students are always on the hunt to get the biggest bang for their buck. One popular method is to purchase pre-owned items in good condition at thrift stores or on online sites like eBay. These goods are generally located off–campus, so students must allow extra time for travel or shipping. But more recently, students are replacing online resale marketplaces by using hyper-local forums found on social media sites such as Facebook.

‘Free and For Sale’ Facebook pages or groups can be found for many campuses, where classmates buy and sell thousands of used items within campus borders.Before the Wellesley College resale site on Facebook became popular, Christie Lee, a Wellesley senior, visited Buffalo Exchange once or twice a year to sell her unwanted clothes. Now she sells her used items using the campus’ informal Facebook sale site, which at press time had more than 2,500 members.

“I no longer go to Buffalo Exchange, so I reduce transportation costs, and best of all, I save time,” Lee explains. “Plus, at a consignment store, you only get about 30% of profits, so I make more by selling to my classmates on Facebook.”

After posting an item online, Lee schedules meet-ups with interested buyers at the student center or in a dorm, where they make the formal money transaction.

But using social media as a marketplace platform has its quirks.

Friends ‘like’ and make silly comments on each others’ item listings. According to Lee, many students who never buy or sell items still frequent the site out of curiosity to see what their classmates are selling.

She dishes on the craziest item she’s seen on the site: jello shots (a type of cocktail).

“What you see sold on this site becomes a source for gossip,” she says.

Using social media also has its difficulties. The lack of anonymity forces buyers and sellers to expose themselves to judgment by others. A quick browse through the site reveals Wellesley students are selling everything from a pair of Louboutins to tea bags. Lee says many students criticize this representation of income inequality, accusing wealthy students of being insensitive by posting items that most students cannot afford.

In addition, social media features are not ideal for buying and selling items. New listings overwhelm users’ newsfeeds as hundreds of new items are piled on chronologically, without organization, making it difficult to keep track of items.

In addition to savings, online resale sites help reduce waste.Some colleges pair their online resale sites with an annual yard sale to maximize their waste-reduction efforts.

Pomona College’s Sustainability Integration Office hosts a ReCoop event every year, where they sell items donated or left behind by students the year before. “Items are priced in accordance with thrift store pricing, and the proceeds go to hiring more student workers in sustainability programs on campus,” says Ginny Routhe, director of the office.

It is clear that the benefits of resale marketplaces don’t stop with students’ wallets — they’re also helping their college communities develop a sustainable community that has trickle-down benefits for their classmates.

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