Scrolling through posts on local Facebook buy and sell groups can feel like taking a tour through peoples’ basements. But among GTA groups, the coronavirus has unleashed a noticeable increase in people offering house cleaning, home maintenance and delivery services instead of their old couch.
A lot of folks are looking to either make an extra buck or purge belongings.
The number of daily posts has increased from the usual few hundred to between 2,000 and 3,000 a day among some larger Facebook groups, like GTA Buy and Sell, Trade No Rules and Toronto Buy and Sell Market. Besides the usual transactions, more users are also opting for trades where they can find others to swap items of equal value.
During this time of isolation and concern over the spread of the virus, some are offering to ship their items, but most sellers are insisting on “porch pick-up.” The buyer will usually find their new item on the seller’s doorstep when they arrive.
There has been much discussion about whether COVID-19 could be passed around the community through the sale of softly used furniture and other goods. While some are concerned that buying and selling on Facebook isn’t an essential service – some groups in the GTA have stopped new posts indefinitely – others are defending their groups as it has become a way for people who have been laid off to make extra money. They argue that it’s not much different from the curbside pick-up that is being offered by many Big Box retailers.
For those who rely on Facebook to move handmade items or up-cycle products, it has created a difficult situation.
The line between businesses and people selling on Facebook is also being blurred now that businesses not deemed essential have been forced to close. Those providing services claim to be taking extra precautions to ensure control of the community spread of the virus, such as proper sanitation of their equipment and wearing personal protection. One service that appears quite regularly are individuals looking to hire contractors to help clean commercial and business properties.
As well, small businesses have been using buy and sell groups to try and continue getting their product out. Bakers have been posting services for homemade treats. Crafters have continued to post their product in the groups as they look to increase their earnings from their usual side-hustle. People offering home repair have also been more common. Others are taking the extra time at home to clean out the closets. Old children’s toys continue to be among the most popular items that appear on these groups.
However, there has also been an increase in scams, including those trying to sell homemade personal protective equipment that does not meet the requirements needed to help stop the spread of the virus. There has also been an uptick in posts promising gift cards in return for their credit card information and an abundance of fake job postings as people look to take advantage of those desperate to find work.
Among the thousands of posts, there is one thing that is apparent – users are looking to each other for support. Important services and items are still available during this period of social distancing, you just have to look more closely.