Jayme is an artist and freelance writer who trained in the medical field, and has worked as caregiver, farmer, mom and DIY'er.
Oh, the Things You Can Buy
Have you ever been part of a virtual yard sale? Times are changing, and while people still place items for sale in newspapers or have physical yard sales, online yard sale communities are quickly replacing those old-fashioned standards.
In my area, Facebook yard sale groups have become very popular to the point where members compete and bid on items with more fervor than even eBay has ever seen.
This makes perfect sense when you see a great deal on furniture, antiques, boats, or even designer clothing that has never been worn. But then there are the OTHER items, the ones that really make you wonder about the human race.
Not only is everything for sale on these cyber yard sales, everyone wants this stuff. And they will buy, sell, and trade with rabid enthusiasm just to be the person who gets to say they are taking home some of these wonderful items.
12 Bizarre Items You Can Buy at Online Yard Sales
- Used flip-flops
- Used plungers
- Used toiletries
- Mutant dogs
- Engagement rings
- Ink pens
- Boyfriend/girlfriend's stuff
- Mystery items
1. Used Flip-Flops
People buy flip-flops all of the time, so seeing some for sale shouldn't be so weird. But it seems like everyone is selling them. Some are new, with tags. Others look like they were walked in for a coast-to-coast pilgrimage.
I always thought flip-flops were disposable. You know, once they start to fall apart, and you can no longer see the design, you threw them away.
What is really mind-boggling is the fact that most of these shoes are ordinary foam flip-flops from Walmart or the dollar store. So which is it for you? $4 for a new pair at the dollar store, or $2.50 for a worn-out pair, plus about $6 worth of gas to go pick them up?
2. Used Plungers
I understand being frugal. But there comes a time when being so may be a bit unhealthy. In this ad, a woman was selling three used toilet plungers. She assured everyone they had been cleaned and were as good as new.
In a bold attempt at playing to consumer psychology, she stated that she had paid $15 each new, and would graciously take $10. Now, these were not "amazing" plungers. Nothing professional or decorative. Just ordinary brown plungers that sell at the local hardware store for about $5 each.
It may be a coincidence, but another seller was offering a toilet bowl brush and a soap dish.
Online Yard Sale Groups
Okay, so I am pretty sure we are all guilty of storing things in shoeboxes. Humans have been doing this for millions of years. Or at least as long as shoeboxes have been around.
However, I would never think to specifically buy a cardboard shoebox, nor would I have thought to sell one before now. Yet that is exactly what this lady did. (Yes, I said did. Someone bought them!):
"Selling cardboard shoe boxes for storage. Different sizes and styles, some have flip lids. Nike, Adidas, and more. Shoes NOT included. Boxes are great for under the bed or organizing your closet. All in great condition. $2 apiece or all 30 for $50."
They are also ideal for storing those used flip-flops.
I have to hand it to this lady though, she made a heck of a sales pitch, and it worked!
Yeah, go wash your dirty minds with soap. I mean nipples for baby bottles. Plenty of nipples. This lady was selling:
"1320 bottle nipples, most used. All sizes. Latex and silicone. Avent, Gerber, Evenflo and some from $ store. Lot for $50. Will not separate. Some have stains."
I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, just a little odd. First of all, 320 is a lot of nipples!
It also makes me curious. What happened to the 1320 bottles? Or if there were two nipples for every bottle, 660 bottles. Was this seller the recipient of too many gifts? Or did she simply buy new nipples every time she made a new bottle?
The only problem I see with buying these is safety. If they have been stored too long, even unopened, the materials could break down. But hey... for $50, that's okay, right?
5. Used Toiletries
Secondhand can be grand, except when there is a risk of buying a disease along with some discounted mascara. Yet, there are always sellers offering such goodies as:
- Makeup (including lipstick!)
- Half-used toothpaste
- Deodorant samples
- Bits and dabs of shampoo and conditioner
- Hairbrushes and combs
- Bath sponges and scrubbies
What really makes this a bad deal is that it is usually close in price to what stores would charge new (and unused). Sometimes a generous seller will discount the amount of deodorant or blush they used from the container.
Not really a bargain, in my opinion, when an ad reads something like this:
"Blush—1/3 gone. Dark pink. Paid $17 new, asking $12."
6. Mutant Dogs
Okay, maybe these aren't mutant, but it seems like people are coming up with some pretty outlandish "breeds." I'm not sure if this is a competition to see who can come up with the weirdest combo, or if they are simply trying to justify charging $350 for what is basically a mutt.
Some of these dogs are adorable, but there is some math that doesn't quite add up. For example:
"For Sale: Purebred puppies ready for forever home. Father was 1/3 Chocolate Lab, 1/3 Standard Poodle 2/3 Dachsund. Mother is 3/4 Poodle, 1/3 Maltese 2/3 Yorkie."
I was never good at fractions...
And what the heck is that dog anyhow? How is it a purebred? Would it be a "Labradorkaweeniedoodlese?"
I know stores charge way too much for small scraps of fabric that are never seen and are not really necessary. But... used underwear is kind of gross.
Sometimes there are photos of what looks to be piles of ratty, stretched out undergarments. Very gross.
But what is even worse is when you see something like this:
"Honeymoon lingerie set, matching bra and panty set, red with black lace. Worn once, paid $35, asking $20. "
8. Engagement Rings
There is nothing weird about selling a piece of jewelry when times are lean or selling an engagement ring when a relationship just didn't work out.
And, people sometimes DO lose jewelry. And people who find it TRY to find the original owners before selling it.
On the other hand, it looks terribly suspicious when a person posts an ad such as this one:
"For sale: six engagement rings. Two are size 7, one size 5, rest are size 8. Don't fit me well, and I don't want to have them resized."
I suppose you could be someone who only buys engagement rings to wear. Or maybe you have had some major relationship issues. But it just sounds... suspicious.
9. Ink Pens
I'm a pen addict, so of course, seeing office supplies for sale always gets my attention. However, these are almost always either BIC pens for the same price they would be in the store. Or...
"Bundle of 20 pens. Some never used. Local interest logos—X Bank, X Drugstore, X Insurance office, etc. $10 for all."
"What a coincidence! I have some of those same pens. Funny, I got them for free..."
Acceptability of Yard Sale Items
Not worth the risk
Read the CDC website
Complete set? Score!
Ask to see it.
Proceed with caution
10. Boyfriend/Girlfriend's Stuff
These are by far my favorite online yard sale ads. Apparently, some people have no shame in loading up all of their partner's belongings after a quarrel and selling the lot. Here are some fun examples:
"Queen size bedding set, comforter, skirt, two sets of sheets, two sets of pillowcases, four throw pillows. Brown and blue plaid, fair condition. Belonged to my ex-boyfriend and I hate the reminder. $5 OBO."
"Ex-girlfriend's cat. Comes with litter box, litter, bowls, collar, toys, bed, medication, brush, shredded curtains, and tons of hair. Free. Take it."
"Getting-a-Divorce-and-Moving Sale! Playstation 3 with 25 games and extra equipment, 100+ cds, Magnavox stereo system, bean bag chairs, tools, toolboxes, shot glass collection, disco light, metal signs, more. Make me an offer on all of it."
"Need gone ASAP before Wednesday 2 PM. Stuff is my husband's, so I can't answer questions about it."
11. Mystery Items
Occasionally, you have an item that pops up that looks interesting. Or maybe it is something unique and you want to know what it is. What a drag when the owner replies to your question with:
"I have no idea what it is, but its $100."
Okay. So, the item is still a mystery. But what about when it isn't really unique? Yet the owner still has no idea what they have. A few months ago, someone advertised that they had:
"Vintage pie safe with lid. $250"
Quite a few people wanted to see a photo, and more than one wanted to know about the mysterious "lid."
When the seller finally posted a picture, it was not a pie safe at all. At least, not the traditional piece of furniture that most people associate with the name. Instead, it was a ceramic baking dish made to look like a pie!
Buying food that has been in someone's pantry doesn't seem like the best idea. You often see people who went a bit crazy at a coupon sale. Sometimes the item is baby food or formula that has been outgrown but is not yet expired.
While it is probably safe to buy sealed jars or cans, I wouldn't recommend jumping on this bargain:
"Cleaning out my pantry. Need to sell food in this photo. Some of the pasta containers and dried beans are open. Some food is slightly past expiration date but looks okay. $20 for all."
If you are going to drive 20 miles to pick up food, might as well just buy it new!
Online Yard Sale People
The most interesting things you will find on the online yard sale sites are the people. Most are just everyday people trying to get rid of an ugly sofa or earn a little extra cash to pay a bill. But you also have those lovely people who think that they won't be recognized on a public board.
When you are on one post dickering with people about how much you need to sell some old toys and clothes for a high price so you can pay your electric bill, it looks terribly shady to see you setting up an appointment with the lady who does $40 manicures on another post! People will recognize you!
Likewise, you aren't earning any trust when you tell a seller you can only do $10 instead of $50 on a bag of children's clothes because you are broke... only to be the first person to jump up and claim a $750 dog a few minutes later.
One thing is for certain. It's a shame the so-called Walmart people get all the fame. The online yard sale people are just as weird. At least at Walmart, they are buying NEW underwear!
Larry W Fish from Raleigh on October 26, 2017:
I had to laugh as I went through the items listed in your article. I may not have the highest standards, but OMG how could anyone buy those things at a yard sale. It does seem like everything is now being sold online. I love to look through the physical yard sales. Although sometimes I do fine them kind of creepy. I wrote one hub here about a doll that was bought at a yard sale. I like to write unusual fiction.
Mike and Dorothy McKenney from United States on June 18, 2017:
As I went through the list of items, each time I said: "Ewww," until I got to the engagement ring, which I considered to be semi-reasonable to sell at a rummage sale. But, plungers, nipples, shoe boxes - what could people be thinking when they put those things out for sale, and if anyone does buy them, what the heck were THEY thinking? Thanks for an entertaining hub.
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on April 19, 2017:
Goodness, the things people try and sell! I've never heard of online yard sales either.
Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on June 06, 2015:
I had not heard of online yard sales before I read your article. It might be OK to buy "normal" items at such a yard sale, but I wouldn't consider most of the items on your list.
Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on June 06, 2015:
I prefer the traditional yard sales. I am a hands on kind of person. Yet, I have sold stuff online...actually just gave it away for free. I would not buy anything you listed...Ewww, but fun list! :)
Dr Penny Pincher from Iowa, USA on January 28, 2015:
Yeah, I'm pretty cheap, but I would not be interested in buying some of these items at any price... I wonder who buys this stuff!?
FlourishAnyway from USA on September 27, 2014:
Oh, these were good, except that guy trying to rid himself of his ex-girlfriend's cat. What a turd. Used plungers, underwear, and flip flops? Yuck. Gives a new meaning to recycling.
Jim from Kansas on September 26, 2014:
Couple of things grossed me out a little. Used underwear? Oh man, can't go there.
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on September 25, 2014:
@sheilamyers--I've seen some really great stuff that belonged to someone's ex! It is almost always pretty cheap too. Maybe it is just a local thing, but selling someone's belongings when they make you mad seems to be the most popular act of retribution. That is how my husband snagged a parts washer for his shop for practically pocket change.
Underwear though, no matter who it belonged to, is a no-go! Lol!
Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on September 25, 2014:
LOL! I had NO idea online yard sales existed, but after reading this I'll stick to the traditional kind, thank you very much. However, I have seen some of the yuckier items - used make-up, underwear, food - offered at real life yard sales, and were passed up for the same reasons mentioned here. It occurs to me that only a die-hard hoarder could possibly think 1300+ used baby bottle nipples would be worth $50 to anybody with a working brain! ;D
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on September 25, 2014:
@Rhonda They are actually pretty fun, once you get past the weird stuff. We have Facebook yard sales for different towns, and ones for the whole county (and neighboring counties).
I agree. A bargain is only a bargain if it doesn't cost you a hospital bill later! I've seen some understandable stuff on there, like one woman had bought a case of infant formula then found out her baby needed a different kind. So she was selling brand new, un-opened formula. But food that has been open and sitting in the pantry for ages? That's probably not the best idea!
Thanks for reading! Hope you and your Aunt find some great deals!
Rhonda Lytle from Deep in the heart of Dixie on September 25, 2014:
I had never heard of an online yard sale. I love a bargain, but have to draw the line at used underwear, makeup and food. To me, that taps into the deathly sickness zone just a bit too much. I have to share this with my aunt. She loves yard sales with a passion. I think I'm going to see if there are any posted for my area just for kicks :).
sheilamyers on September 25, 2014:
Most of the items you list I wouldn't even buy at an actual yard sale. The rings would be okay and some of the ex's stuff would probably be good, but not the rest. And I can't believe anyone would pay $350 for what's advertised as a purebred dog with all of those things mixed in it.