We’ve all bought things online at some point but selling them can often be a hassle.

While on leave during a pregnancy in 2012, VarageSale founder Tami Zuckerman noticed there was no existing family-friendly solution to buying and selling items online. Rather than buying from strangers online, why not reach out to those in your community that you already know and trust?

Tami was able to experiment with several different online buying/selling platforms during her time on leave and found the experience seemed broken. She felt like there needed to be a way to make the process easier and personable.

As she mentions in an interview with Small Business Trends, “While I was pregnant with my son, I was spending a lot of time at home, so I started clearing out the house to make room for the baby. I was also looking for an affordable way to collect baby gear for the new arrival. I found my experience on Craigslist to be creepy, while social networks felt clunky.

“That’s when I asked my husband Carl, VarageSale’s CEO and co-founder, to build me something better, something that people in our neighborhood could also use to buy and sell their items locally.”

The couple worked together with close friends and family to come up with a simple, easy-to-use interface, complete with live feed. It wasn’t long before they had created the VarageSale app that the idea caught on and began gaining momentum quickly.

News of he app spread by word of mouth. And today, the Toronto based business is expanding into the U.S. and already has a presence in many communities. Recently the company raised $34 million from Silicon Valley investors who saw and realized just how popular the app has become.

The VarageSale app works a bit like a simplified eBay, with a bit of Pinterest tossed in. Users can follow categories and people in order to get alerts when items they may be interested in are posted. You can also ‘watch’ items and come back to them later if the price happens to drop.

One user named Pamela Betsill uses the app for her small business, an interior design group called PTB Design Company, and noted that using the app was so easy that she’s never gone back to the Facebook group method.

She told Small Business Trends, “VarageSale is like shopping locally without the physical storefront. You can and do become familiar with other sellers and buyers. It becomes more of a community to work safely in, unlike eBay or other sites, where your security can feel threatened.”

Community seems to be the recurring theme here. The VarageSale blog mentions in its ‘about our story’ post that users appreciate the safer community feel and all the great people that they meet while shopping and selling.

Betsill uses the app to buy and sell antiques and old furniture and loves it. Most of the products that pass through her hands have history, and having a tool that gives a direct link to the people that know that history makes the process much more personable and smooth.

Furniture isn’t the only option, of course. You can find anything from baby clothing to real estate on the app. For the most part, however, it’s mostly just like the name suggests: garage sale items, mostly gently-used or antique.

What began as an idea during a work leave has quickly evolved into a whole business in itself. Zuckerman and her husband saw a need in their community and filled it, only to find that other communities also needed that niche covered. When it comes to starting your own business, Zuckerman has this advice:

“Start your online business based on your passion. Whether it’s jewelry, sharing education tips, or refurbishing furniture, turning your passion into a successful business not only allows you to be profitable doing what you love, but sets you up for lasting success. Passion is a huge motivator!”

Image: Varage Sale

[“source-smallbiztrends”]