Heather Scavo takes a picture of a wall lamp she’s putting up for sale on a Facebook yard sale group. Most of the groups require people to join and get approved. But once in, you can buy and sell items without the hassle of scammers and spammers.

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star

A friend recently introduced me to Facebook yard sale groups. I had never heard of such a thing until now. And I am in love.

What is a yard sale group, you ask?

It’s a cross between a yard sale and Craigslist.

You get the convenience of shopping and selling online without the hassle of spammers or scammers, as well as the thrill of finding a good yard sale deal.

Most of the groups are closed groups, meaning you have to be approved by the group administrator to join.

Once you are a member, all you have to do is post a photo with the price and all of the important details of the item you want to sell. If somebody is interested in your item, they’ll comment or send you a private message.

From there, you set up a meeting time and place — hopefully somewhere in public — and make the sale.

If you see an item you’re interested in purchasing, just write a comment or send a private message to the seller to arrange the purchase.

Frank Ramos started the group Tucson’s Online Yard Sale on Facebook in August of 2012 when he wanted to sell a Native American flute. He figured he had a better chance of selling it on a group page, rather than his personal page. So he created the group, invited friends to join and sold the flute in a couple of days.

“Of course, the prospect of someone else selling something I might need also occurred to me,” Ramos said. “So the page was beneficial to me in that respect, as well.”

In just over a year, that group has grown to more than 1,700 members. And it has become a community of sorts, since it started with friends and friends of friends.

“I’ve dealt with Craigslist before and have heard of the unsavory characters frequenting that site, so I figured a Facebook group page where everyone more or less knows everyone would be a great idea,” Ramos said. “I’ve become friends with a lot of members who joined the group page.”

A benefit of using a Facebook yard sale group is you’re not just getting random people and spammers sending you emails. They’re all real people who have been semi-screened before being approved. And if somebody is posting spam, the group administrator steps in.

“When people step out of line and/or spam, we delete them for a week,” said Bethany Davis, administrator of the group called Tucson Free Stuff. “If this continues to happen after the first warning, we ban them from the site.”

Such actions seem to help keep unwanted activities to a minimum on group pages.

“I have both sold and bought on the site,” said Colleen Roh, who is a member of East Tucson’s Online Yardsale group.

“I’ve had only good transactions both ways,” she said. “I’ve never had anyone stand me up, and it’s a quick way to make a buck and not collect things for a big yard sale.”

Heather Scavo, a local stay-at-home mom, has been a member of the group East Tucson’s Online Garage Sale for about 18 months. During that time, she’s made more than $1,500 selling items.

She’s gotten some pretty sweet deals, too. “My favorite was a huge homemade slingshot that I got for $20,” Scavo said. “It was exactly what I needed for my son’s ‘Angry Birds’ birthday party.”

Roh said she prefers the Facebook groups as opposed to traditional yard sales, because “you can usually get more than you would at a traditional yard sale.”

But when she does have a traditional yard sale, she uses the group to promote it. “When I have a yard sale at my house, I list it on the site and have made arrangements for people to buy items they see in the pictures I post,” Roh said.

If you like the fun of digging through stuff at traditional yard sales, or having a yard sale, this won’t replace that. But if you just like to get a good deal on specific items or make a quick buck, it can be a great time saver.

“I prefer using Facebook yard sales,” Scavo said. “You can shop from home and set up your own time and place to meet … and you don’t have to store yard sale items until you are ready to have a yard sale. Just take a quick photo on your phone and hit send.”

Convenience is also key for Roh. “I used to use eBay, but it’s too time consuming,” she said. “And I hate dealing with the shipping of items.”

As I started exploring these groups more, I came across some niche groups, including Tucson Crafts and Homemade Items, Tucson’s Man Cave and Tucson Wedding & Party Supply Resale.

Sandy Skaja started the Tucson Wedding & Party Supply Resale group when her oldest daughter eloped after they purchased a brand new wedding gown for her. “Now we have a dress, still with the tags, and no wedding,” Skaja said.

“Also, my younger daughter is single and will someday want a wedding. I can keep my eyes open for ideas for that event in the future.”

Many of the other sites have a variety of items posted on them — from kids’ stuff to electronics and furniture — so Skaja thought a site specific to weddings and parties would go over well. She was right. The page has been active for just about a month and already has more than 320 members.

“People today really want to spend their money wisely, and these Facebook pages allow them to do that,” Skaja said.

There’s also a Facebook group that offers free stuff for those in need. Davis, Tucson Free Stuff’s creator and administrator, started the group about four months ago. “I am motivated by helping others,” Davis said. “When people are in bad situations, this is a site where the Tucson people can help others with things they don’t need.”

Members of this group post items they want to give away. It’s also a place for people to ask for things they do need, or “ISOs,” which stands for “in search of.” Several recent discussion threads were of members asking for basic things like food and clothing. More often than not, they get responses from other members who are willing to help.

I’ve recently become a member of several of these groups, and I can see what the allure is. It’s not just the stuff. You start to get to know new people and even connect with some.

“I have met some wonderful ladies doing this,” Skaja said. “Most people seem genuine and are just cleaning out the closet or garage or looking for some good deals for their family.”

Star reporter Angela Pittenger, our “Centsible Mom,” shares ideas, news stories and tips on how Tucson’s families can stretch their dollars. Want to share your ideas? Send an email to apitteng@azstarnet.com. Follow her on Twitter @CentsibleMama or on Facebook at facebook.com/centsiblemama.