How selling neighborhood 'trash' on Facebook Marketplace for 5 hours a week landed a 27-year-old an extra $37,000 this year
- Sarah Scott, 27, spends five hours per week selling found furniture on Facebook Marketplace.
- She's made an extra $37,000 on top of her full-time income so far this year.
Sarah Scott was driving home one night in January 2020 when she noticed there was "a ton" of furniture and other household items left on her neighborhood's curbs.
On a whim, she decided to pick up an "entire car load" — including a coffee table, a bookcase, and a broken lawnmower. Within 48 hours, she'd sold it all on Facebook Marketplace, a section of Facebook where users can buy and sell goods, often to and from people in their local area.
So far in 2022, the 27-year-old has made an extra $37,000 on her side hustle, according to documents verified by Insider, selling furniture, art, and any other interesting "trash" she can find in her Memphis suburb.
Scott works full time as a digital marketing advisor for FedEx making just under $90,000 per year. She says she spends just five hours per week on her side gig — three hours for driving and picking up items and two hours for staging, photographing, and listing items online.
"We are out here just working as hard as we can, because we have the time and the means and have big dreams for ourselves," Scott told Insider. In August, Scott and her husband bought their first rental property "directly due to" the success of her side hustle, she said.
As prices continue to soar, Scott is among the millions of Americans shaking up the traditional 9-to-5. US workers filed over five million new business applications in 2021, the most since 2005. A 2021 Upwork study found that 59 million Americans — or 36% of the US workforce — had performed freelance work over the prior 12 months. Others have ditched college for trade schools or apprenticeship programs. And some, like Scott, have embraced reseller platforms like Poshmark or Facebook Marketplace to earn extra cash or become full-time resellers.
How Scott organizes her time and prices items for her side hustle
After her surprise initial success on Facebook Marketplace, Scott decided to dive in.
"I realized, after doing it the second night just within my own town, that this was going to be very lucrative," she said.
Scott devised "trash routes" that she drives three nights per week — Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday — visiting a few different neighborhoods each night.
The first few months, she says she earned roughly $500 per month. But as she learned the optimal routes and which items were bestsellers, she saw her performance improve.
She's noticed people are more likely to leave items on the curb during the spring and fall months, but less likely to do so during the summer and winter, perhaps because they're more likely to be traveling.
Scott uses Google Image search to find the retail price for items online. She says new items typically sell in 24 to 48 hours, while used items in good condition can range from three to five days on average. If an item hasn't sold in two weeks, she donates it.
Scott sells her items for roughly 70 to 80% of the retail price — "cheaper than anything else people would find online," she said. While she occasionally ships items, Scott leaves the vast majority of them on her porch for buyers to pick up and they can pay her through Venmo. The pickup option also helps her avoid Facebook's 5% selling fee on shipped items.
By the end of 2020, Scott had earned roughly $10,000, according to her records. This rose to $18,000 in 2021, and $37,000 through the end of October. She says she's on pace to hit $40,000 by year end and averages roughly 30 sales per month.
3 tips for beginner resellers on Facebook Marketplace
Scott's first piece of advice for beginners is simple: "Get started."
"Drive around, even if it is your own neighborhood trash night," she said. "One item at $20 is 20 more dollars than you'd have if you didn't do it."
Her second piece of advice is to "experiment" with selling different items.
"If you're passionate about something then lean into your strength," she said. "Video games or furniture flipping — find that thing that speaks to you, because then it'll be easier to do it."
For those interested in reselling household products, she says people "go crazy over nightstands" and "anything that is wood."
The three most expensive items she's ever sold are an antique rocking chair for $425, a set of silver teacups for $250, and an antique three drawer chest for $250. Her average selling price is roughly $40 to $50, however, and she says $45 has often been a "magic number" to sell an item quickly.
While some resellers modify items before reselling, Scott says she's never done this. She simply gives them a basic cleaning and stages them in her home for a picture.
While reselling other people's trash is still her "bread and butter," she worked with one client earlier this year who was moving and looking to clear out their home.
Over an eight week period, Scott says she sold over $60,000 worth of the client's property. She charged a 30% commission, and walked away with roughly $20,000.
Finally, she recommends people "get involved with the community" through online channels.
"One of the greatest pieces about doing this is just all the different people I've been able to help and realizing they wouldn't have had the item if it wasn't for me." Instead, it would've ended up in the trash.
Moving forward, Scott says she has no plans to slow down. She loves the extra money, and she wants to continue helping create a more sustainable world with less waste. Early on, she found she had a "bigger soft spot for sustainability" than she had ever realized, and it motivated her to push forward.
Nearly three years in, she's not only saved over 1,000 items from the landfill, but provided others the chance to use them in their homes.
"I can't save everything," she said. "But it's made me feel like I'm doing my part."
This story was first published in November 2022.
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