OH BOY. Try this scenario on for size: it’s the weeklong stretch between Christmas and New Years. You’re enjoying some time off work and looking at your home with fresh eyes. With the New Year around the corner, you make a mental checklist of all the little tweaks and refreshes you’d like to knock out in 2022. SOUND FAMILIAR?
Well, if it does…HEY, ME TOO. And today, I want to show you how to fix your Facebook Marketplace so that you’ll actually see good stuff – you know, furniture that’s your taste! – so when the urge for a refresh strikes, you’ll have the entirety of your local vintage and antique listings at your fingertips. LET’S GO!
You’re Luckier Than You Think
HEY, HEY, HEY. We’re going to shush that whole “easy for you to extoll the virtues of Facebook Marketplace when you live in a big city! There’s NOTHING good listed in my tiny town!” talk right now.
Because here’s the thing: sure, big cities do have a lot of variety. You know what else we have a lot of? Competition. And price gouging. There’s a reason that vintage dealers take big, empty cargo vans on buying trips to the so-called “middle of nowhere” – it’s because that’s where all the best, most affordable pieces are hiding. So pals, don’t lose faith!! We’re going to optimize that FB algorithm so your Marketplace feed is an actual collection of cheap, quality furniture and not, like, your neighbor’s random junk.
Get Familiar With The Lingo
When you can look for anything, how do you figure out what terms you should actually be entering into the search field? My solution is simple: spend some time building out your favorites on Chairish. (Here’s mine – lots of brass case goods, weird wrought iron chairs, and biomorphic shapes!)
Think of this less as a to-buy list and more as a way to hone the language around your taste. Take a peek at your favorites and make some notes around the words the vendor uses, both in the title and in the description. For me, a quick glance at my own favorites reveals that I have a huge preference for pieces from the 1960s or 1970s and all things regency (Palm Beach, Hollywood, French – it’s all good to me). These are both great jumping-off points for getting into the Facebook search weeds!
Start Saving Everything
Alright, here’s the real secret: to optimize what Marketplace shows you, you’re going to need to save EVERYTHING that strikes your fancy. It doesn’t matter what you’re actually in the market for – if the algorithm serves up a piece that’s to your taste, you need to reward it with your engagement. Once Marketplace starts to learn your tastes, it’ll get smarter over time, I promise. To speed up the process, try to scroll through all your recommended pieces at least once a day. (To quote Kendall from Succession: “go nut nut.”)
Keep in mind that when it comes to the pieces you’re saving, close enough is good enough. In my case, here’s a super fairly-priced 1970s mint velvet wingback chair that I saved yesterday. Do I have any desire to, you know, buy it? Nah. But do I want FB to continue to show me affordable, colorful, weird upholstered chairs from the 70s? YES.
Search By Descriptor
This is my all-time favorite vintage-buying hack and I can’t believe we aren’t talking about it ALL. THE. TIME. Before we jump into some more specific search terms, let’s take a second to break down some of the words and phrases that I’m looking up daily…
- Grandma or grandmother: As in “this was my grandmother’s” – these pieces are almost always in the best condition.
- Must go: Desperate times make for the best prices. This one is best towards the end of the month when folks are moving out of their rented properties.
- Funky: I know that Emily isn’t the biggest fan of this word, but it’s GREAT for my FB Marketplace searches. (If your style is a little more classic or subdued, you can substitute “funky” for the descriptor of your choice – maybe “timeless” or “elegant”?
- Vintage or antique or old: Oftentimes, I find that “old” is a treasure trove (literally) of men offloading family heirlooms.
- Heavy: Furniture is one of those fun things where bigger (in this case, heavier) is unequivocally better.
- SOLID: Yeah, in all caps, and in the title only – these are the BEST pieces to negotiate on because casual browsers read this as “SOLD” and scroll on by.
- Cabriole or fringe or piping: Basically, think about the details of the piece you want to find and search for those. I’m going through a traditional phase, so these are top of mind for me. Your terms may be different based on your style! (Maybe you’ll go with “skirted” or “tufted”?)
Search By Alternate Terms
I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that, well, you probably already know the kind of piece you want to buy. Maybe it’s a coffee table or a set of armchairs – regardless, you should swap in a few bonus search terms and see what comes up.
- For Armchairs: Try “upholstered chair,” “comfortable chair,” or “lounge chair.”
- For Sofas: Try “couch,” “settee,” “loveseat,” “sectional,” “daybed,” and “bench.”
- For Coffee Tables: Try “cocktail table,” “end table,” “side table,” “floor table,” and “small table.”
- For Dining Tables: Try “dinning table” (yes, misspelled) or “kitchen table.”
- For Credenzas: Try “sideboard,” “buffet,” “hutch,” “cabinet,” “TV stand,” or “media storage.”
- For Dressers: Try “chest,” “commode,” (be warned: there will be some toilet aids), “armoire,” or “drawers.”
But wait – there’s more! We can get even MORE specific.
Search By Material
This is when those Chairish favorites come in REAL handy. Is burl your thing? Or maybe some flame mahogany, instead? How about boucle or velvet or leather? Basically, there are five big categories for you to master.
- Woods: Walnut, oak, hickory, teak, beech, maple, mahogany, cherry, or pine are great places to start. Full disclosure, though – if someone knows the type of wood their piece is made with, it’ll oftentimes be reflected in the price tag. You can’t beat a well-crafted piece of solid wood furniture, though!
- Metals: Think chrome, brass, wrought iron, silver, gold, copper – what’s your favorite? See if there’s something out there!
- Stone: Marble, terrazzo, cement, travertine. Sometimes even “stone” or “stone top” works if the seller isn’t confident in their own identification skills.
- Other: This is the catch-all for lucite, acrylic, glass, plaster, or laminate.
- Fabrics: Linen, velvet, microsuede, leather…the list goes on and on, and you’ll know what works best for your family. Another hot tip? Try searching by fabric maker or pattern – “Schumacher” and “chintz” are two of my go-tos.
Search By Color
So simple, so underutilized. This is one of my favorite Craigslist hacks that translates well to FB Marketplace. When you have some time to dig and sort, simply type in some of the favorite colors for your home – my standard searches are for pink, green, orange, and blue. (If you’re feeling really ambitious, try getting more specific on the shade. We’re talking, like, “mint,” and “rose,” and “seafoam,” and all that jazz.)
Search By Year
When I have a lot of time, I just type in every decade from 1880 through 1980 and favorite everything that I’d want to show up in my feed in the future. When I don’t have a lot of time, I just combine the year with an actual search term, like “1970s bar cart.” (You know, like a normal person.)
Search By Designer or Style
TBH, this is a great option for finding exactly what you want…but it comes with a cost. (Like, literally.) Here’s the thing – you’re always going to get a better deal from a vague listing than from someone who knows exactly what they have. Case in point: a few months ago, I found a pair of Sarreid nightstands AND a matching dresser for $50, INCLUDING DELIVERY. Y’all, let me tell you…I SCREAMED. This was a $6,000 find listed under the simple search term of “dresser.”
Buuuut it turns out that I, tragically, am not the only person who neurotically stalks Marketplace. After my brass dresser dream poster was slammed with messages, he re-listed the pieces at a much more appropriate price (about 5 grand, if I remember correctly) with the brand name. It’s a double-edged sword – it’s great and quick to find what you need, but you’re sacrificing cost for ease. At the end of the day, my wallet prefers the vague searches.
If you’re determined to try some brands and styles, though, here are a few worth typing into that search bar…
- If Your Style Leans Traditional: “Hendredon,” “Herendon” (we love a typo!), “Ralph Lauren,” “Louis XV,” “Gustavian,” “French,” “Venetian,” “Rococo,” “Chinoiserie, and “Federal.”
- If Your Style Leans Glam: “Baughman,” “Draper,” “Mastercraft,” “Springer,” “art deco,” “regency,” “campaign,” “Chippendale,” “lacquer”
- If Your Style Leans Organic: “Breuer,” “Noguchi,” “boho,” “coastal,” “minimalist,” “rustic”
- If Your Style Leans Mid-Century: “Knoll,” “Eames,” “Prouve,” “Broyhill,” “Drexel”
- If Your Style Leans Modern: “Sottsass,” “van der Rohe,” “Kagan,” “contemporary,” “postmodern,” “Italian,” “Bauhaus,” “Memphis”
This is by no means exhaustive, but they are search terms that I’ve personally had luck with.
Make a Combo
To that end, you now have a whole arsenal of terms to mix-and-match. Start broad to hone your algorithm – remember, save EVERYTHING that looks vaguely interesting – and then try pairing phrases and descriptions together. Maybe “old heavy metal table” will pull up the all-brass cocktail table of your dreams. Perhaps “antique stone commode” will bring you the perfect marble-topped entryway storage piece.
Combine terms, search, and save. Before you know it, the algorithm will start recommending similar pieces – based on aesthetics (isn’t the internet wild?) or based on the item’s description – and you’ll be able to snag those perfect picks for a song.
Check Other Items
When you DO find something interesting, make sure to do some exploring. First, open the seller’s profile in a new tab and see if they’ve listed anything else – I’ve found some great pieces this way. Next up, close that tab and return to your original page. Scroll down, look at all the similar finds, and click on anything that looks close to what you want. Again, we’re always trying to reward the algorithm for showing us what we want and we’re training it to get closer and closer every day. WIN/WIN, FRIENDS.
Change Your Radius Frequently
This is the weirdest part of the search that doesn’t really make any sense. When you’re poking around, you’re going to want to play with the search radius as different items WILL pop up. I usually have my radius set to 60 miles, but I’m shown a TOTALLY different swath of items when I switch it down to 20 miles.
No one I’ve talked to can really explain this, but play around. If you’re in a less populated area, the difference may not be as marked…but it’s worth giving it a try to get that deal, right?
Timing Is Key
To no one’s surprise, most folks are listing items on the weekend. You’ll want to check daily (TBH, I often check once when I wake up and once before bed) but SO many great finds are listed on Saturday and Sunday. If you have any free time, try and pop the app open a few times over the weekend – if you’ve started to optimize what’s being shown to you, the “Just Listed” section may be filled with treasures.
And as always, go for the deal! I’d like to present to you the only phrase you need to know for haggling (in person, online, anywhere): “Do you happen to have any wiggle room on the price?”
About 80% of the time, you’ll get a deal. Sometimes, it may be worth it to buy the piece at full price. Oftentimes, it’s worth holding out for another. Know what you’re willing to pay and stick to your budget – the right piece at the right price will come along as long as you have some patience. Building a home is a marathon, not a sprint, after all 🙂
That’s it for me (for now) but please share ANY of your pro tips or recent successful finds in the comments. Collectively – with all your knowledge and learnings – I think we, as a team, can compile enough info to ALL earn our internet master’s degree in online vintage shopping. SHARE WITH THE CLASS, PLEASE. xx
Opening Image Credits: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Styling To Sell: How We Staged Our Dining Room And Kitchen (With The Changes I Should Have Done Years Ago!)