The Facebook Marketplace Edition

On antiques, local sales, and the power of identity

​​Amber Finlay (AF) leads product marketing on the SNKRS app at Nike and her summer ‘21 look is mens swim trunks with the linings cut out. Her last WITI contribution was on lightning rods

Amber here. I was recently at an antiques warehouse in Hudson New York, and overheard a dealer tell an on-the-fence customer that if an item doesn’t wind up working, they could just list it on Facebook Marketplace, and it would be gone in a day. She also noted that she lists her own items there, to expand reach beyond people meandering through the shop. Facebook Marketplace seems to have slowly become the de-facto platform for individuals to sell items locally—especially furniture, which is currently one of the top 3 categories on the site. 

Facebook released Marketplace in 2016 as a sort of Craigslist alternative, but it has blown up in popularity over the past year, at least partially due to the pandemic home improvement/decor/clearout craze. Early in the pandemic, all people could do was shop from home, and due to supply constraints with bigger retailers, many went local in their searches

“Supply and demand has people connecting more than ever on Marketplace,” Deb Liu, founder and vp of Facebook Marketplace, told Modern Retail. These factors include the continued shipping delays and sold out inventory — such as work from home desks and gardening supplies from retailers — leading consumers to turn to local marketplaces for goods. 

Why is this interesting?

You can’t actually buy anything on Facebook Marketplace. It operates just like Craigslist: merely connecting buyers and sellers. Unlike Craigslist, Marketplace is attached to Facebook, so users can lightly stalk whoever they’re transacting with, then decide when and where to meet them to complete the sale (and whether they should bring a friend). Aside from ease of use, this ability to decide if other people might be creeps is one of the bigger advantages of Marketplace. There are other useful features—you can add a listing to a Facebook Group that might be interested in it, or promote it with ad dollars—but the bonus of knowing who you’ll be dealing with seems to be the difference-maker for users. 

I did the full Facebook delete a few years ago, so I can’t use Marketplace (believe me, I’ve almost cracked a few times and made a new account), but as I look from the outside, it seems like one of the more practically useful, pro-user features they’ve released. I’m sure Facebook has plans for adding shopping and seller services to the platform in a big way, similar to WeChat but for now, Marketplace seems sort of untouched and of the people. (AF)

Isolated vacation cottage of the day:The Gills Group, Bailey Island, ME. 

Quick Links:

  • There are only 25 blimps in the world. (AF)

  • A lovely essay about Paul Simon’s 1991 concert in Central Park, which I remember watching on TV as a kid. (AF)

  • End of life doulas seem natural, wonderful, and needed. (AF)

  • I’ve been searching for the perfect corduroy sofa for years (there actually aren’t many out there), and found it here, at a not really Facebook Marketplace price. Treat yo self. (AF)

Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Amber (AF)

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