- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

CHALMERS, Ind. (AP) - For his latest Twitter handle, Craig Swearingen wanted a name that was extremely catchy, self-explanatory and inviting.

But it wasn’t to describe the quirky traits of his personality, a business worth following or even a publication known to break news as most Twitter handles do. He chose a name to describe his upcoming garage sale, @6thStreetBlowOut.

“I wanted to reach a younger demographic of people who have access to computers and technology,” Swearingen, 37, of Chalmers told the Journal & Courier (https://on.jconline.com/1lRxYiY ). “It’s so much different than putting an ad in a newspaper.”

Being technologically savvy is required in today’s professional and social world, but when it comes to local garage sales - the age-old practice of selling and bartering in one’s own yard - a van and the classified section of the local newspaper still suffice.

However, social media is ebbing into every aspect of life and garage sales are not excluded. Utilizing social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to advertise garage sale items may be a novel concept, but it’s an extremely inexpensive way to drum up publicity, post hundreds of photos for free and capture that ever-lucrative millennial market, according to experts.

“Social media should be one of the best places to advertise your garage sale,” said Lynda Hammond, garage sale expert and creator of the website GarageSaleGal, which allows users to list and search for garage sales in their area. “Facebook, Twitter, by all means go for it.”

It’s not common for garage sale hosts to publicize or even post pictures of items being sold in advance on social media websites, she said. Although people typically advertise through Craigslist, by word-of-mouth, and local media websites, she encourages garage sale hosts to use social media, she said.

Although Swearingen promised his stepfather, Bill Zobrist, that he’d rid him of a basement and garage full of antique and vintage furniture and collectibles, he didn’t want to pay for advertising.

“(Twitter users) have a tendency to share information,” he said.

He’s also posted about 277 pictures of the individual items that will be sold at the upcoming garage sale. “That is to me an individual ad each time you take a picture,” he said. “You have a lot easier time of marketing at your convenience and not to mention it’s free.”

Zobrist, who owns local rental property, has collected the items over 30 years. He has stored them in the garage of the Sixth Street multifamily rental unit where the garage sale will be held and the basement of a neighboring house. He owns both properties.

“I would find it at houses or maybe buy some of it and just put it away, thinking someday I would restore the antiques and sell them,”said Zobrist, 66, of West Lafayette. “I guess some day is here. I never got to restore a lot of them.”

Although his collection is ample, ranging from wood furniture to dish sets, he’s not attached to the items, he said.

“I need to get rid of this stuff,” he said. “It’s going to be easy.”

But he let his stepson, whom Zobrist calls his “motivation,” handle the logistics and the promotion.

Although Swearingen started tweeting under the @6thStreetBlowOut handle only about six weeks ago, he has racked up more than 500 tweets.

He posts lots of pictures, uses tons of hashtags and has his Twitter game plan down to a science.

“I try to get on there about four or five (times) a day,” he said. “Your peak times are Sunday mornings. That’s when a lot of people are on Twitter, and late Saturday nights. You just have to know your demographic. It doesn’t take a college degree to know how to market.”

He started a Facebook page this week and linked it to Twitter. Once it gets closer to the garage sale date, he’ll start posting on Craigslist. Everything goes under the hashtag #6thstreetblowout.

“I think branding is so crucial,” he said. “I spent about a week making sure I came up with the right hashtag.”


Information from: Journal and Courier, https://www.jconline.com

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