Un­con­ven­tional path to com­mu­nity Ore­land woman ad­min­is­ters vir­tual yard sale on Face­book

Springfield Sun - - FRONT PAGE -

21st Cen­tury Me­dia News

Ser­vice

Meet Me­lanie Stam­pone: a savvy, yard sale guru of sorts. The Ore­land res­i­dent is the cre­ator and ad­min­is­tra­tor of Spring­field Town­ship (Montco) Area On­line Yard Sale, a closed Face­book group that acts as a vir­tual yard sale. The group is meant to cre­ate a safe, friendly and con­ve­nient en­vi­ron­ment for Spring­field res­i­dents to ex­change be­long­ings with their neigh­bors. Mem­bers upload pic­tures of items they wish to sell, and po­ten­tial buy­ers mes­sage them pri­vately.

Stam­pone cre­ated the group in Oc­to­ber 2012, af­ter hear­ing about a friend’s pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence with a sim­i­lar on­line or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“A friend of mine be­longed to one in New Jersey, and I was ask­ing her about it,” she said. “I just thought it was a great idea to make some money.”

The Face­book group im­me­di­ately gained pop­u­lar­ity in the on­line com­mu­nity.

“Ev­ery­body started ask­ing about it,” Stam­pone said, adding that she heard peo­ple dis­cussing the Spring­field on­line yard sale at the gym or gro­cery store.

Cur­rently the group has about 2,500 mem­bers, a num­ber that is con­tin­u­ously grow­ing.

Stam­pone de­scribed the group as a more com­fort­able ver­sion of Craigslist.

“It’s a lo­cal, not-so-creepy Craigslist,” she said with a laugh. “It’s de­signed so you have to meet in Spring­field Town­ship.”

Buy­ers and sell­ers meet at Star­bucks, play­grounds and other lo­cal lo­ca­tions to ex­change mer­chan­dise. Mem­bers sell all types of items, from clothes, shoes and Coach bags to fur­ni­ture and party sup­plies.

“Some­one ac­tu­ally posted pack­ages of mac and cheese,” laughed Stam­pone, who re­cently pur­chased Phillies dec­o­ra­tions for her son’s fourth birth­day party. “You can sell any­thing.”

Stam­pone has also bought a pa­tio set, com­plete with ta­ble and chairs, for only $4.

“A can of spray paint made it look new,” she said.

Lately, she re­ceived a Michael Kors watch at no cost and only had to buy a new bat­tery. “Peo­ple are so nice,” she said. Mem­bers of the Spring­field on­line yard sale have found it to be ex­tremely prof­itable.

“One woman paid for her trip to Dis­ney World with all the money she made,” Stam­pone said, adding that she reg­u­larly re­ceives thank you notes from buy­ers and sell­ers. “You get to clean out your clos­ets and make some ex­tra cash too. It’s a win-win.”

Be­cause the group is lo­cal, mem­bers have got­ten to know each other.

“It’s a so­cial thing too,” Stam­pone said. “There are so many nice peo­ple on it that I’ve met. The com­mu­nity re­sponse has been awe­some.”

Stam­pone does not get paid for her work as ad­min­is­tra­tor and ad­mits that mon­i­tor­ing the group can some­times be time-con­sum­ing.

“I’m a work­ing mom, I have three kids, I’m al­ways run­ning some­where,” said Stam­pone, who works as a peri­na­tal sono­g­ra­pher per­form­ing high- risk OB ul­tra­sounds. Through her ca­reer, she con­tin­u­ously meets mothers who need sup­plies for their new ba­bies and in­tro­duces them to the yard sale.

On her own time, Stam­pone con­stantly ap­proves new mem­bers, over­sees trans­ac­tions and pe­ri­od­i­cally deletes im­ages of items that were al­ready sold.

She said she was thank­ful for Amy Les­niak, a sec­ond ad­min­is­tra­tor who helps with the group’s up­keep.

“She helps me clean up the page. She’s an­other set of eyes,” Stam­pone said.

De­spite the time com­mit­ment, Stam­pone does not let the yard sale dom­i­nate her life.

“I try to push it to when my kids are in bed,” she said. “I try not to let it in­ter­fere with my fam­ily.” Then she laughed. “When­ever some­thing is miss­ing around the house, my kids will say, ‘ Mom, did you sell it at the yard sale?’”

The lay­out and or­ga­ni­za­tion of Face­book lim­its the yard sale’s ar­range­ment a lit­tle, mean­ing items can­not be sorted specif­i­cally by type.

“You can’t re­ally break it into cat­e­gories,” said Stam­pone, al­though she in­di­cated that the lo­cal ac­ces­si­bil­ity seems to out­weigh any slight in­con­ve­nience. “You take a pic­ture with your phone, post it and peo­ple mes­sage you.”

Stam­pone en­cour­ages more com­mu­nity mem­bers to get in­volved.

“We’re open to new mem­bers,” Stam­pone said, but she urged users to read the guide­lines be­fore post­ing, buy­ing or sell­ing.

“Keep it lo­cal, keep it friendly,” she said. “Be nice be­cause they’re all your neigh­bors.”

She cur­rently has no plans to ex­pand her or­ga­ni­za­tion be­yond Face­book and is happy with the con­ve­nience that so­cial net­work­ing of­fers users.

“Right now we’re just hav­ing fun with it,” Stam­pone said. “You never know what the fu­ture holds.”

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