Shop till you drop: discoveries while managing the 100K Facebook trade group

There is no doubt that the society we live in is shaped by consumerism, whether we like it or not. Indulge yourself, spoil yourself, pamper yourself — in other words, just buy something that will make you feel better and worthy for at least a minute.

And we also like social media. The sharing of experiences, liking photos, comparing ourselves with our friends, feeling close to people whom we sometimes never met.

And now a quick maths: consumerism plus social media equals? That’s right! Facebook buy&sell groups! A place where you can be part of a limited community, sharing the same interests (shopping), goals (buy & sell) and values (bargaaains!).

At one point of my live I had the pleasure and (sometimes) despair to manage the shopping community with more than 100K people. It started as a minor gig for 2k people, but grew like a snowball to become not only the line in my CV, but also the huge part of my existencia. I can jabber for hours telling you the tales of hopes and fears, disappointments and wonders, broken friendships and newly built relationship that happen in the circle of shoppers and traders, but I won’t. This time I’ll just focus on some things that I learned there.

1. There’s nothing that people won’t take for free. Literally. Shabby coats from the 90-s, chipped cups and plates, rugged carpets and bras – all these items will find their new owners.

2. People don’t believe in charity and always blame the authority. In the beginning I’ve invested quite a lot of time (alongside fellow administrators) into the community. So if someone’s trade post wasn’t approved within 5 minutes, lots of people tended to write me lengthy emails about me neglecting my direct duties. Some threatened to file an official complaint with my boss (whaaaat?). When I told them that that’s actually my hobby and the world could happily live another five minutes without seeing their worn pair of shoes for 10€, I was blamed for being irresponsible and lazy. “That’s your cross to bear”, right.

3. People like queues. If someone is selling, say, a blouse and incidentally two people commented that they would buy — cross my heart and hope to die — there soon be the third, and the fourth buyer. Then there’s a queue of desirous people, and we have two possible case scenarios: either one of them proposes to buy the blouse for a higher price and faces universal condemn, or the seller himself/herself decides to raise the price delighted by such capacity crowd.

4. People want to buy. A LOT. The amount of money, efforts, time and nerves spent on hunting for bargains never fails to amaze me. Items bought from fast-fashion retailers attain new lease on life in all of the mighty Facebook.

5. Most people in trade communities don’t care about environment, recycling and upcycling. They buy used staff not because they wan’t to battle pollution and irrational consumption. They just want something to brighten up the moment for a fair price.

It may seem that my account is superficial and condescending, but in fact I really appreciated everything that trade groups have taught me. I’ve met a bunch of cool people there, learned how to deal with unexpected and (I hope) and grasped the notion of sustainable consumption. And I still manage buy&sell communities, but of the smaller scale.

Gotta run now, they’ve got midseason sales in the nearest shopping mall.

To be continued.