Marketplace Apps: The Garage Sale of the 21st Century

Gone are the days of scouring local garage sales for items you can now easily find on several peer-to-peer marketplace apps.

Marketplace Apps: The Garage Sale of the 21st Century

Peer-to-peer marketplace apps offer an easy and convenient way for to sell gently used clothes, electronics, furniture and more. It’s an easy way to make a few extra dollars while simultaneously decluttering. It’s also a great way to find a bargain on unique and interesting items that you might not be able to find in store.

As a marketplace for used cars, at Instamotor, we are particularly interested in the increasing popularity of these platforms. To get more insight, we surveyed 800 marketplace users and found:

Most Used Marketplace Apps

Top Three Marketplace Apps

  1. Facebook Marketplace
  2. Wish
  3. Offer Up

Clothing & Accessories - 23.3%
Electronics - 19.9%
Furniture - 14.5%
Entertainment - 12.9%
Appliances - 9.4%
Vehicles - 8.3%

Why Users are Selling on Marketplaces
  • Nearly half (45.1%) say their most common reason for selling on the app is the need to declutter
  • Nearly 1 in 3 (30.5%) are selling because they are in need of money
  • 1 in 5 (20.3%) are selling because they’ve upgraded or replaced old items
Why Users are Buying on Marketplaces
  • More than 2 in 5 (44.4%) buy on these platforms because they don’t want to pay full price for items
  • More than 1 in 5 (21.6%) say they simply enjoy the convenience of shopping on these apps
  • One in five (20%) say they enjoy shopping for interesting second-hand items
  • 14% say they are usually looking for something specific that isn’t sold in stores
Overwhelmingly, users feel safe using these marketplace apps

92% say they feel safe using these apps, while only 7.9% say they do not

Majority of Users Meet in a Public Outdoor Location
  • Public outdoor location (i.e. parking lot, in front of a business) - 66.1%
  • Buyer or sellers home - 16%
  • Public indoor location (i.e. coffeeshop, store) - 12.3%
  • Secure location (i.e. police station, bank) - 5.6%
A majority of users prefer not to make transactions alone, but men more likely to go alone than women
  • More than 3 in 4 take someone with them to make transactions when they can
  • Women are 10% more likely to take someone with them than men
A majority of users are satisfied with the effort companies put in to make the apps safe
  • More than 3 in 4 (75.6%) believe companies are doing enough to keep their users safe
Gone are the days of garage and yard sales
  • Nearly 3 in 4 users prefer using these apps to traditional yard/garage sales

Tips for Making Safe Transactions

Never give out your real contact information. Many of these apps make it easy to avoid giving out your contact information at all, as most marketplace apps have a built in chat option. If for whatever reason you need to take the conversation offline with a phone call, try using a Google number.

Always try to meet in a public location. It's always safest to make transactions in well lit, populated public locations to avoid any funny business. Bank lobbies, coffee shops, police stations, busy parking lots are all good places to meet.

Bring a friend. It's always a good idea to have back up—someone to witness the transaction and keep an eye out for your safety.

Avoid using any money wiring services. Yes, even Venmo. It's best to make these transactions in cash, if possible. It's pretty common knowledge that anyone asking you to wire them money is probably a scam, but with the popularity of Venmo people have been more lax about accepting Venmo as a form of payment to make transactions with strangers. What many people don't know is that payment can be reversed by the sender after the transaction is complete. What does that mean? It means you could be giving someone the item you are selling for free. Remember, cash is king.


We surveyed 800 Americans (who identified themselves as users of marketplace apps to buy and sell items) via the survey platform Pollfish about their marketplace behavior, practices and feelings. The survey was conducted on Dec. 13, 2017.

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Brionna LewisBrionna Lewis

Brionna is on a roller coaster that only goes up. You can follow her on twitter @BrionnaLewis.