You know you love those Facebook yard sales: the variety of merchandise, buying close to home and totally affordable prices. But then there’s the drama, which is less lovable, like unfair selling practices (i.e., the seller’s picking a friend who posts “want” long after you did), having to scroll through tons of crap to find something you dig, or flame wars that can get downright nasty.
Leslie LaLonde and Patty Wu Benson think they’ve created an excellent alternative: Towne & Market, which preserves all the best parts of online yard sales and ditches the rest. This virtual marketplace allows buyers to filter items and avoid some of the annoyances that can happen on Facebook. Even better, no crap! The items sold are all great quality and many are designer brands, from Lululemon to Louboutin.
“We knew the concept would be popular here because it has proven itself with the various Facebook groups,” says Towne & Market co-founder Leslie LaLonde.
“Dallas is the first market we’ve launched, and we’re in San Francisco as of a few weeks ago,” says LaLonde, who lives in West Highland Park with her family. “We knew the concept would be popular here because it has proven itself with the various Facebook groups, and Dallas is a very community-driven city.”
The project started a year and a half ago with the idea to create a locally curated, pre-owned designer fashion and home decor site. Buyers can shop within a 100-mile radius of their ZIP codes, and even if multiple people reserve an item, the seller can only see the first person in line, so no playing favorites. The buyer has 24 hours to privately message the seller and arrange pickup. If that falls through, the seller can then see the next person in the queue to buy.
“On the Facebook boards, you can see everyone in the wait queue,” Benson says. “There’s also no negotiation. If you reserve an item, it’s at list price.”
But that’s not to say items don’t get discounted. There’s an option to “like” an item but not reserve it, which gives the seller the hint that the price should come down.
Membership at Towne & Market is free, but premier membership ($10 per month or $90 per year) gives buyers 24-hour early access to new listings.
You can already find some local names on the site, like Dallas artists Jessica Dale and Carolyn Joe Daniel, as well as Carmen Flanders, owner of Bijou One consignment shop in the Dallas Design District, who is selling luxury goods from closets of Hollywood’s elite. Because the website doesn’t charge sellers commissions or listing fees, it’s providing an additional marketing channel for small businesses that do not have their own e-commerce platforms.
Towne & Market even has a personal seller on board in Dallas to help people who don’t have the time or desire to do the legwork personally. (This is similar to the curators from online decor resale site Viyet.) She will pick up items from your house and take care of all the photography, listing details, and coordination of sale and pickup. The fee is 20 percent of list price, far below the 40-60 percent typically charged by consignment shops.
“We have very specific categories: clothing and accessories for women, men and children, and furniture and decor for the home,” LaLonde says. “We have a pretty comprehensive designer directory to let sellers know what brands [of clothing and accessories] are allowed on the site.”
LaLonde and Benson say they hope to expand to other Texas cities soon, but for now, itsayss just Dallas that gets to shop a curated online yard sale — drama-free.