From used mattresses to pet turtles, you can buy almost anything on Facebook.

“Swap shops” are hardly a new phenomenon, but the online garage sales have inundated the Northwest Missouri area. Members of the Facebook groups can post pictures of items they are looking to sell, and other members can purchase or make offers on items.Swap shop pages of all varieties have been cropping up in the Nodaway County area.

What started as a single Facebook page has blossomed into multiple pages for various categories. There is a Maryville swap shop, a Nodaway County swap shop, a Northwest Missouri swap shop, and a combination of Maryville and Nodaway County.

Offshoots of swap shop include ones for “critters,”  ATVs, cars, books and children’s items. Basically the swap shop has everything a person could ever need, or not need.

The various shops have devolved into absurdities, with sellers offering such goods as “gently used” bras and half empty shampoo bottles.

It would appear that the book swap might be a good resource for college students looking for textbooks or fiction reads, but this is not the case. A scan of the selection proves that the most abundant products are romance novels with uncomfortable covers and oddly specific cookbooks like “Sauces America Loves.”

Northwest senior James Geiger finds swap shops to be pretty ridiculous, saying “That phenomenon is absolute nonsense.”

However, Geiger  is a member of the critter page “because who doesn’t like pictures of cute animals?”

The page is perfect for users looking for a pit bull or cats with feline AIDS. It’s also useful if you want to see irresponsible pet owners getting rid of their furry friends. One such user selling her pit bull explained in her posting, “HE IS A REAL GOOD DOG BUT WE ARE MOVING AND CAN'T HAVE HIM.”

But Geiger doesn’t actually use the swap shop to make purchases.

“It’s like a garage sale,” he said.“There’s never anything of any value to anyone.”

He also thinks the swap shops create unnecessary drama.

“Have you seen the ridiculous fights that break out in the comments section?” he asked incredulously.

Northwest senior Alycia Drost originally joined the page to find furnishings for her new apartment, but continues to use it.

“I only follow it now for entertainment purposes,” she explained.

The entertainment value of swap shop is pretty much limitless, even if the value of the actual items is not. One user was attempting to sell a pregnant horse in exchange for a rifle. There are many gun postings on swap shop, so one can imagine this user met up with one of those gun owners looking to pawn off their firearms.

Despite the sketchiness of swap shop, poor college students can’t be picky. Northwest students are making use of the pages to score good deals on used items, a bargain in a location with limited retail options.

Student Ashlee Gullion has been a member of  the Maryville and Nodaway County Swap Shop for a year now.

“I don't personally sell things on there as often as I would like, but I do have it up just in case if I see something I am in need of or would want,” she said.

Gullion has mostly used the page for clothing purchases in the past and has found the site useful. She says most problems on the site could be addressed.

“People need to learn to read the rules and obey them more,” she explained. “That way it will avoid problems for all kinds of shoppers.”

The Northwest Missouri Swap Shop clarifies expected behavior in the “about” section, saying:“Please delete your items when they are sold. Please act like adults,” adding, “You can sell clothes, guns, phones, whatever you want.”

One negative aspect of the page is dealing with the other users, who can be pretty questionable. Northwest senior Emily Foltz, has mostly had a positive experience on the site but says that’s not always the case,

“It sometimes feels like a drug deal going down in the Dollar Tree parking lot, but most people are friendly,” Foltz said.

Gullion hasn’t experienced the shadier side of swap shop exchanges, explaining “they would show up when we agree to meet and was willing to pay the price I had posted.”

Despite the drawbacks, area swap shops can be a great resource for college students. If you’re willing to wade through the nonsense, go ahead and get some great deals. Just don’t buy any underwear. Or if you do, don’t tell me about it.


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