Got it? Want it? No matter what “it” is, Kristen Tyler and the Swap/Meet SOMa can help you find it, often for free. Tyler established the Facebook group, Swap/Meet SOMa, February 2013. Tyler owns M. T. House Estate and Moving Sales.
She explains, “Often people asked me to help sell only a few items. I was frustrated that if I had only one item to sell, I couldn’t find a good way to do it. Sometimes Craigs list worked, sometimes it got a lot of scam results.” Swap/Meet SOMa was born.
Tyler got her start in buying and selling as a child. “My parents dragged me to flea markets, thrift stores and yard sales all of my life,” she recalls. “Some of my earliest memories are of dressing up in ball gowns from thrift stores and putting on plays.” “As I reached adulthood I began my own collections,” recalls Tyler.
Living in Brooklyn, Tyler was limited for space. When she moved to South Orange with her husband, Gary, and daughter, Daisy, her own collecting began in earnest. (Tyler’s family expanded to include son Hudson, who was born in South Orange.)
“I began looking for ways to sell or swap for things I wanted more. eBay was a wonderful discovery! I had my own yard sales but they were a lot of work and didn’t seem to bring in much money. More collectible items didn’t sell or sold for a lot less than I wanted.”
Tyler wondered how to make the business of selling used goods efficient and fun for people she knew. In the meantime, she and a friend held an estate sale. “That was 10 years ago,” says Tyler, and M. T. House is going strong. “I love emptying out the whole house, plus people pay more for things when they are inside the house. Of course, some of those same items are bought by dealers who can charge twice that when presented in an antique shop!”
Still, Tyler “had a dream of a local eBay where people could bid on items.” She decided one day to try using Facebook for this purpose. “I made a group! I invited my friends, I asked them to invite their friends.” The group now numbers more than 5000 and has two spin-off groups, one dedicated to business and one for the sale and exchange of children’s items.
Tracy Comerford is an enthusiastic member. “I am a single mother on a limited income and the SWAP group allows for me to provide for my children in ways that I would not have been able to otherwise. I also feel it saves our landfills from being unnecessarily compacted with items that other people have a use for,” she explains.
“All of this would not have been made possible without the vision that Kristen had of bringing a community together and forming a swap group,” says Comerford.
Her praise is echoed by Catherine Dwan, who has purchased a purse, scarf, necklace, and – best of all, she says – an electric keyboard. “I love my purchases,” she says. “And you can’t beat the prices and the stories that sellers tell.”
Tyler agrees. “Some people really need the money and it has helped them make ends meet when they are able to sell some things. Other people have a high priority to move things out of the house and making money is not the objective, but finding a home for their belongings is.”
No matter the reason for buying or selling, Tyler is delighted with the group. She continues, “It has been a very happy surprise that so many other people have been able to join in the fun. Often people come up to me and thank me and I have to laugh, because I owe thanks to them. They make it successful.”
To join the group, log onto the Facebook group Swap/Meet SOMa, and ask to join. Kristen Tyler approves requests promptly.