I’m happy to announce Internet Garage Sale, the product of a few too many very late nights and weekends, and my latest web project.
As a gadget hound, I accumulate tons of tech that I eventually need to get rid of to fund the purchase of newer tech. Tired of Craigslist and eBay, I put up a static HTML page with a few items, and asked people on Twitter to check it out and place bids if interested.
This was quite successful. I sold all my items at reasonable prices, with hardly any fuss. What a difference it makes having a group of people you can actually trust.
Then people started commenting, things like: “I wish I had your Twitter popularity, so I could do something like that.” And that’s when the light bulbs started to come on.
What’s wrong with eBay?
eBay is very good at getting your listing in front of millions and millions of people. You are very likely to sell anything you put up there. Unfortunately, it has become somewhat of a haven for fraud and scammers, despite eBay’s best efforts to keep them out.
My eBay listings got increasingly Draconian over the years, with me having to spell out more and more restrictive terms, until finally I was refusing to ship outside the US and having to report people for requesting out-of-auction sales on almost everything I posted.
This was especially problematic for me, as most of my auctions are for tech items worth hundreds of dollars.
What’s wrong with Craigslist?
Not much, really. Craigslist is a great, free service on which I’ve bought and sold many things. The only part that creeps me out is having to meet people in person, or have them come over to your house. This always makes me feel awkward, defensive, and a little bit nervous.
To date, I’ve never been scammed on Craigslist, but I know it happens.
Why compete with these services?
The semi-original idea I wanted to bring to the table was the notion of a closed circle of trusted people. Imagine a Craigslist where you felt you could trust everyone because you either knew them, or they were a friend-of-a-friend. That’s what I’m going for.
To that end, Internet Garage Sale is invitation only. Except for the occasional hand-out of free invites, the only way to get in is to be invited by an existing user. That’s step 1.
Step 2 is you have to pay a one-time activation fee, currently US$ 5 before you can bid on or sell any items. (Browsing is free.) This pay barrier is intended to keep out scammers, spammers, and other deadbeats.
You may balk at the idea of an activation fee, but consider that Internet Garage Sale has no listing fees, no final value fees, or any other fees at all. Combined with its primary function of keeping out riff-raff and hopefully you can see the value of it.
Step 3 is the karma system. This is currently a manual process, but as the site evolves, I will be looking for opportunities to automate it. In a nutshell, if someone rips you off, doesn’t complete the transaction in a timely manner, doesn’t abide by your terms, or is just an asshole, they’re gone. Banned for life. Furthermore, we’ll look at who invited the bad apple, and possibly lower their karma too depending on circumstances.
My secondary focus is extreme simplicity. The goal of Internet Garage Sale is to bring a buyer to a seller with an agreed-upon price, and then get out of the way. We don’t handle the transaction itself — that’s your job. We don’t do Dutch auctions, PowerSellers, Storefronts or Marketplaces, Reserves, Escrows — you just list an item and people bid on it, and hopefully everyone leaves happy at the end of the day.
But do you have enough users to ensure my item will sell?
I’m not sure yet. Time will tell. I will offer some more free invites if it feels like we need more mass. And browsing will always be free, so people can check out what’s for sale and not sign-up until they see something they want to bid on. But, since there are no listing fees, you don’t lose anything by listing your item as many times as you feel like.
Give it a try!
There are some live auctions up on the site as of right now, with more on the way.
If nothing else, you may wish to subscribe to the RSS feed to see new items as they go up. It’s free!