If you’ve ever had a tag sale, aka a garage sale, you know how much work goes into preparing for it, and you probably swore that you’d never have another one after it was over, due to the hagglers.

People rarely want to pay the price you marked on an item. During my one tag sale, people haggled with me over dollar items. I know a woman who had a tag sale and, by the end of the day, she had gotten so frustrated with people requesting a better deal that she told one person, “I’d rather throw it away than give it to you for fifty cents.”

That’s probably why online tag sale sites are so popular. My city, Norwalk, CT, and every surrounding town has at least one site, but usually two or three, or more, and I belong to several.

The upside to these sites is that you can charge more for what you’re selling than if you were selling the same item or items on your front lawn. It turns out that people are willing to pay more if they’re relaxing at home, browsing online, and something strikes their fancy … or if they’re drunk. They’re especially willing if other people have expressed interest in what you’re offering.

You also get people who want to be the first to make an offer. That’s because these sites operate on a first come, first served basis. Whoever types “interested” first is the first in line for the item. The negotiations then go on during private messages and if the first person decides to pass, or neglects to show up when he or she agreed to show up, then the item moves on to the next person. Sometimes the next person is still interested, and sometimes not, so it’s best if you close the deal with the first person, if possible.

The downside to these virtual sites is that they’re arranged with the most recent post on the top of the page. As others post, your listing moves down and becomes less visible. Within a day or so, people will probably not even see your listing unless they have a lot of time to scroll, or unless they type in a specific item that you’re selling in the search bar. You can only “bump” once a week, which means that your post goes to the top again. In theory. I don’t think it really works.

I had a very profitable day today using an online tag-sale site. We’re downsizing, so I rounded up a bunch of things I could part with, including a cute metal and mosaic-tile bistro set, a new crockpot that I had bought at a tag sale and never used, a Papasan chair frame older than my son, and other items, and posted them online last night. Within five minutes, I had an offer on the bistro set, the crockpot, and the chair frame. What was surprising was that I had posted the items after midnight and I received immediate responses.

Today, a young couple showed up, paid $75 for the bistro set, and went on their way. I can guarantee that I never would have gotten anywhere near that amount if I had hosted a sale at my house. Anyway, they were very satisfied and even sent me a photo of the set on their deck.

The crockpot buyer and the chair-frame buyer were coming later in the day, so I asked my husband and son to make the sales for me, while I ran over to a craft fair. They were watching football all day at home, so they agreed to help out.

When I got home, nobody had come yet, so I took a nap. When I awoke, my son told me that the crockpot customer had arrived and said that I had listed the crockpot for $10. My husband said that no, I had said $15. She gave in and paid the $15 and left. My husband was annoyed, but not too much—probably because the transaction occurred during an NFL commercial break.

However, the Papasan chair-frame customer had him in fits. Apparently, the woman had come into our house, inspected the chair frame, approved it, and handed over $20. As soon as she got home, she called the house and said that it wasn’t in the shape she had thought it was in, so she wanted to return it. My husband said that he told her he wasn’t running a store and there were no returns. She said she didn’t want it and was going to put it on our front lawn. Within half an hour, she did exactly that.

I asked my husband and son if they had given her a refund and they said that they didn’t even know she had come back. She just dumped the chair and left. I checked my cell phone and saw, not surprisingly, that she had already called me. I called her back and said I’d like to return her money and she was back on my doorstep in 10 minutes.

All in all, despite the chair-on-the-lawn-thing, I made $90 with very little effort on my part. In the recent past, I’ve made several hundred dollars by selling other things on these sites. When I had a physical tag sale, I worked eight hours and made $66.

With today’s profits, I’m going to buy a Papasan pillow for the rejected chair frame and keep it. I think that was the Universe’s plan all along.

Published by Patsy Porco