ZipGarage is a new site for garage sale enthusiasts to list and scout out local garage sales (or rummage sales, or yard sales, or whatever your preferred nomenclature) in the United States. The site is absolutely dead simple and completely free, and was created by 365Labs.
Finding sales on ZipGarage is as easy as entering your zip code and getting a listing of sales in your area (ZipGarage automatically searches within 10 miles of your zip code). You can subscribe to an RSS feed for your zip code to be instantly updated on new garage sales in your area, which can then be mapped on Google Maps with a click. Unfortunately, ZipGarage has yet to attract many sellers, so the listings are rather sparse. Reaching the critical mass that will make this site truly useful will be the hardest thing for ZipGarage to do.
Listing a garage sale on the site is extremely simple. Enter a zip code, address, date, start and end time, a description, and a list of items for sale. Their pre-defined list of items is a bit odd, for example there was an option for women's clothing, but no option for men's. Thankfully the site lets you add your own items via a text area.
Where ZipGarage differentiates from other sites is the photos. Listers can upload any number of photos of their stuff to the site and tag items within the photos. Another cool feature of the site, is comments, which allow buyers and sellers to converse about the nature of the stuff for sale before the yard sale even takes place. In combination with the photo features, comments makes ZipGarage and place where buyers can do some serious scouting for a weekend garage sale, and sets the site apart from newspaper classifieds -- long the preferred method of getting the word out about a yard sale.
In order to help the site spread, the creators of ZipGarage offer an embeddable widget that shows the location of upcoming auctions mashed up on a Google Map.
As I said, achieving critical mass will be hard for this site. Craigslist already offers a dedicated garage sale section, as do most other classifieds sites or newspapers around the country. There are more sales listed on Craigslist in just San Francisco each day than their have been on ZipGarage in the past week. But that said, garage sale fanatics are a unique subculture, not unlike eBayers, and it is certainly possible that ZipGarage could create a site that strikes a chord with them.
"Our society may not be much on communal activities anymore, but you wouldn't know it by watching what goes on at garage sales. Some people do nothing else on their weekends besides scope them out. Hold one and you'll see them -- they're the folks with the mini-vans baring bumper stickers that read, 'I break for garage sales.'" -- Cathy Perdigo and Sonia Weiss, The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Garage and Yard Sales
My advice to ZipGarage would be to build on the social aspects they have in place (mainly the comments that allows buyers and sellers to yak) and attempt to create a hub for garage sale enthusiasts. If they want to have any chance of competing with Craigslist or other classifieds sites, they'll have to do more than just offer simple classified ads. ZipGarage is slick and nicely designed, but it won't be useful unless they can attract more garage sale listings.