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We can do pretty much anything we want online these days. From buying antiques to ordering Mexican food, online marketplaces are easily accessible and make it simple to find a bargain online.
Online flea markets have grown in popularity over the past decade and mean bargain hunters can find unique treasures from the comfort of their home. eBay – the world’s largest online flea market – boasts more than 182 million users.
Rather than visiting your local thrift store, you can browse on sites like eBay and Letgo to find all kinds of items, listed by millions of users. Here is our pick of the best online flea markets.
Why Are Flea Markets Popular?
People spend their Sunday morning wandering through stalls at their local flea markets rather than lying lazily in bed. The question you might be asking is, “Why?” What makes flea markets so great, and why do so many people visit them (both in person and online)?
Finding Stuff You Need
Flea markets are overflowing with bargain items. You can almost always find something that you are looking for. When looking for common household goods or specific items, buyers are often looking for a cheaper alternative than buying from a store.
Flea market goods are often second-hand and therefore come at a fraction of the retail cost, allowing you to find bargains on almost every item you may need.
Finding Vintage and Antique Items
Some buyers go to flea markets without a specific need. They simply have an affinity towards vintage and antique items. Buying antiques from an antique store can often be costly. However, flea markets give buyers the opportunity to find some unique treasures on a budget.
Items that are vintage and antique can be difficult to come across at regular retailers. Therefore, buyers looking for such items often go to flea markets where they are more common.
Why Online Flea Markets Work
You can find some magnificent treasures at your local flea market. However, on cold, wet days or in the blistering heat, some of the enjoyment is taken away. For sellers there is also the added pain of getting up early, lugging around their goods and setting up their stall.
Over the last decade, online flea markets have grown in popularity. They give buyers and sellers the same opportunity to find treasures and make money, but in a more convenient way. For both buyers and sellers, there is also the added advantage of a wider user base.
As sellers across the entire country list their items, buyers can scroll through millions of listings and narrow down their searches with filters. Items can then be posted to buyers from across the US, giving sellers a greater chance of finding buyers for the goods they are offering.
How Do Online Flea Markets Work (For Buyers and Sellers)?
As online flea markets don’t give you the opportunity to inspect an item in person, they operate a little differently to local flea markets. There are a lot of online flea markets to browse. They all have a slightly different process for becoming a buyer or seller. However, in general, the way they work is similar.
Online Flea Markets for Buyers
Looking for an item on an online flea market is usually a very simple process. Most platforms have search bars where you can type in a keyword for the item you are looking for; for example, ‘blue dress’.
A lot of platforms then offer you the option to filter results by things such as size (where relevant), distance, price, brand, etc. You can then scroll through your results until you stumble upon the bargain you are looking for.
Every platform has a slightly different buying process. Some require you to bid on an item, others have items for set prices where you can simply buy them in a similar way that you would on an online retailer. Other platforms require you to message the seller, offering them a price.
For buyers, most platforms require you to set up an account and add payment details. A lot of platforms have PayPal integration, though some require payment by credit cards. However, there are also platforms that accommodate local sellers, where you can collect items in person and pay in cash.
Online Flea Markets for Sellers
There are different types of sellers on online flea markets. These range from people having a clear-out and selling off unwanted items, to full online stores.
Sellers need to set up an account on almost all platforms. They will need to add payment details for payments from items sold and to pay any listing fees the platform may have.
As your buyer may not get the chance to see the item in person before they purchase, when you create your listing it is important to give as much accurate information as possible. Add detailed photos, and give a well-written description. Describe any faults or cosmetic marks on the item and its overall condition.
You then list your item and wait for either bids (if you are auctioning it) or a sale. Then you simply collect your money and send the item to the buyer. Easy, right?
Our Pick of 7 Online Flea Markets
We love online flea markets. Here is our pick of the seven best.
eBay must come at the top of the list. It is one of the most well-known and successful online flea markets. It is a brilliant and simple-to-use platform loved by buyers and sellers alike.
According to eBay, as of mid-2019 it had over 1.3 billion listings. It offers listings for both auctions and ‘Buy it now’ (immediate sale) across a huge range of products from vintage records to kitchen appliances.
Buyers and sellers provide feedback to each other, which can help both parties establish that they are buying/selling from/to legitimate people. eBay also has excellent buyer protection, giving buyers confidence to purchase with the support of a refund should the item not match its listing.
eBay is also a top platform for sellers to make money. According to Indeed.com, the average eBay seller in America makes $20,000 a year.
Etsy is a platform that primarily focuses on hand-crafted, artisan items. Buyers often set up stores and sell their hand made jewelry, clothing and art through the site. Some people make a living through these stores, and others do it as a hobby.
As a buyer, it gives you the chance to find truly unique items to personalize your home or give as thoughtful gifts.
Letgo’s tagline is “No need to visit the flea market to find the best deals on preowned items!”, which pretty much sums up its platform.
It is a local buy/sell platform that has both an app and a website. Unlike eBay and Etsy, it is totally free for sellers to add listings and doesn’t charge a commission on sold items.
There is a huge range of categories for buyers to browse through, and as it is a local site you can often collect items in person. This gives you the added bonus of being able to inspect an item before you purchase it to make sure it is in good condition and exactly what you want.
Shpock is very similar to Letgo, offering a platform for you to buy or sell items locally. Like Letgo, it is also free to use and has a huge range of categories.
Shpock is incredibly popular. It is a relatively new app (compared with sites like eBay), but according to Shpock they have over 10 million users and their app has been downloaded over 50 million times.
5. Facebook Marketplace
In recent years, the popular social media site Facebook added a marketplace for users to buy and sell items locally.
As it already has a gigantic userbase of 2.45 billion users, this gives buyers and sellers the opportunity to reach a huge range of people and find a great variety of items.
vFlea is a virtual flea market with buy, sell and trade options. The site has PayPal integration, which helps both buyers and sellers keep their money secure.
There is a huge selection of items on the marketplace. It is a platform where you can find a lot of great vintage, antique and one-of-a-kind items.
Srchie is a platform aimed at buyers rather than sellers. Rather than having 50 tabs open on your browsers to search through all the platforms, Srchie offers a stress-free way to find the bargain you are looking for.
The platform searches through sites like eBay, Amazon, and even Goodwill for your search term. It also has great filtering options, where you can narrow down your search by categories and prices.
Strike Yourself a Bargain
Flea markets are great places to strike a bargain. You can find vintage treasures and sell off your unwanted items. Thanks to modern technology and some savvy developers, you no longer need go out in all weathers in search of your local flea market.
Instead, you can search for all kinds of items online, from the comfort of your home. Sellers can now sit back and watch the money roll in, without the unnecessary hassle of setting up stalls and haggling with customers.