It happens. We collect junk we don't want or don't need in our inventory and the stuff we can transfer, we figure hey, we'll sell it at a yard sale! And from a newbie or overall consumer mind set the Yardsale concept is one that invokes the idea of bargans, cheap goods, and possible deals.
And while all of this is well and good, the problem is that in Secondlife, a yardsale isn't always a yardsale, and a yardsale isn't always a deal. And as innocent as it may sound on the initial outset, Yardsales can be quickly overwhelming. What seems like a good deal, may, infact, be a total ripoff.
The forums have been abuzz with the dangers and shady nature of yardsales for some time. I myself don't generally go to yard sales, as I tend to prefer to go to the source of an item, namely a designer I know and trust. Failing that, I tend to make things myself. But yardsales can be a source of discontinued items, items from designers long gone from secondlife, or nifty tidbits from designers in world you never knew about. Also, if you are on a severely limited budget, you can find some cheap stuff. HOWEVER, that being said, its still a major case of "Buyer beware".
Since I decided to write this article, I decided to go on a bit of a yardsale shopping spree, armed with the knowlege of a year plus in secondlife and no stranger to its many features or the dangers of being ripped off. I pulled up the find menu and looked up events. As usual, there was a nice plethora of yardsales being listed. I picked the first one and popped into it.
I was swiftly overwhelmed with a veritable junkyard in the sky.. and some guy landing on my head. Moving along, I proceeded to browse the offerings.
At this particular yardsale there was no host despite being listed as an event, but it was quite busy. There were many boxes of freebees ( they said free hair, free shirts, free eyes, etc over them) that were there for 1L. I disagree with calling 'freebees' freebees if you charge ANYTHING for them, but I also know its common practice to charge 1L for a box for the effort of boxing them up and hosting them. Okay, so fair deal. I even lent another fellow shopper a dollar to get one of these boxes. One thing to note would be to check the box's contents BEFORE you pay for it. I then started examining all the boxes. Hmm. Some of the freebees were listed for 10L. I found an object that was originally Linden made for 50L. Hmm. I'm pretty sure that those Linden objects were free from info/telehubs at one point. My ripoff sense is tingling. At this particular yardsale there was a rather cool looking motorcycle for 300L, so I decide to check up on the designer. I got the name and looked the resident up. Said he had a shop in his Picks in his profile. So, like any good, red blooded consumer, I decided to do a price comparison. I teleported to his shop to find... It wasn't there!
Well crud. This means one of two things. Either the designer is no longer selling in SL and this motorcycle could be a collectors item, or the guy moved and failed to update his profile. Hmm. Well it looks like if I want the bike, the yardsale would be a good place to get it since the store no longer exists. But if I hadn't checked, I wouldn't have known. A good shopper is a smart shopper! Do your homework before you pay your money!
Okay after this point I started visiting some other yard sales. Discovered this first yard sale had several listings. Annoying to be always popping back at the same yardsale. Finally I manged to get to another one, where I appeared in the air, fell for several feet and landed on a shack. I looked around, a bit confused. In the distance a short ways was an obvious retail store. But someone said their was a yard sale here! I look around some more and then I realize.. the STORE is the yardsale. Okay, what gives?
So I truck over to the shop in question and check it out. Yep. They are a store. Yep, this is a retail establishment. But they have a section with a bunch of feebees in boxes on a blanket. Hmm. this smells a bit fishy. The freebees in this case are actual freebees. They cost nothing, 0L for the box. But of course, the source is infinate and I suspect this was a ploy to get yardsalers into the retail establishment. Although, despite my being duped, I found a SWEET electric chair. But I didn't buy it on the principle of being duped to a store with false advertising. Bad business people! Don't dupe your customers.
Next yardsale I visit is on a private island. I appear in the middle of a beachlike paradise. I look around. No yardsale. Notice a direction marker in the distance. Truck over. Once again, I've been duped. Its looks kind of like ikea, but on a beach and super disorganized. But its obviously, once again, a retail senario. I'm sensing a theme here.
I pop by a fourth one. This one appears to actually be a yardsale. The items are not retail, and they are obviously from different designers. Some are freebees, some aren't. Most are very reasonably priced. I find some clothing by a designer I've never heard of, but his clothes are pretty cool. I decide to check his store before I buy the clothing. When I arrive, I find his store. He's got some cool stuff, but none of the clothing I saw previously. Looks like he doesn't sell it anymore. So there was a potentially good deal there. I also saw he had some freebees for 1L and helped myself to samples.
So there you have it in a nutshell, so lets review what we learned.
1) Yardsales may have deals, but they also have ripoffs.
To avoid the ripoffs, make sure you check who the original creator was. You can do this by using the 'rating' trick. Right click on the item to bring up the pie menu. Select More..., from the More.. menu select Rate. From the Rate menu select 'Creator'. This will tell you who the creator is. You can then use the Find to look up that individual.
2) Do not pay more than 1L for a pack of freebees.
Freebees are called 'free' for a reason. Namely, you shouldn't have to pay for them. 1L$ is considered acceptable, but IMO, they should be called 'cheapies' not 'freebees'. Another thing to note is that anything created by a Linden, is *usually* free and you shouldn't pay for it. Go to info hubs, you can probably pick it or something like it up for nothing.
3) If you find something you like, you should comparison shop.
After you discover a cool item, landmark the yardsale, find out who the designer was, and go pay the designer's store a visit. Check for the same item and compare the price of the original designer to the yardsale. You might be surprised to learn that the original designer is often cheaper, and then you have the guaruntee of the original creator for the product. If you buy it at a yardsale the original creator owes you nothing if its broken, out of date, or missing something.
If a designer is no longer in game, or not selling that item any more, you can either message them ( if they are still in game) or you can assume the item at the yardsale is a deal. However, always check to make sure that the item wasn't released as freebee from the designer if possible and the person is reselling it.
4) The 'yardsale' is often a marketting ploy from the find menu. While the merchant may offer some freebees or deals, it is not really a yardsale at all. Be aware of this. Also, people can't seem to landmark their yardsales well, and sometimes you have to hunt a bit to find it.
As to what LL could do to help with this problem, well, I think there are a few things.
1) Improve the events listing so that the times cycle off as the event is completed. This prevents several alts from listing the same yard sale for several hours in a row. I also feel Yardsales should have their own category.
2) The ability to more easily view the original creator, as opposed to just the owner in the hover text. This would quickly and easily allow new people to identify actual yardsale items.
3) Better policing/control of the events listing.
Please share your yardsale experiences and tips with this post.