The good, the bad and the weird: Locals turn to apps and the classifieds to buy and sell the unusual
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The good, the bad and the weird: Locals turn to apps and the classifieds to buy and sell the unusual

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For years, Katrina English has been in the market for a 100-year-old Ouija board. Unfortunately, she found the item she sought to be a bit of a century-old needle in an infinitely large haystack.

One recent day, though, her luck changed. As she scrolled through Facebook Marketplace, as she does several times a day, she found John Breedlove had one for sale in Rock Island.

“I was really excited,” English said. “I never thought I’d actually have one because they’re (usually) so expensive." 

The Davenport native, who now lives in Sterling, Ill., said she searches Facebook Marketplace, estate sales and the like “probably too often,” mostly for antique furniture, knickknacks and oddities.

"But my dedication to looking has led me to find some really amazing things that might’ve been gone pretty quickly if I wouldn’t have seen them right away,” she said.

Venues such as the classified ads in newspapers, Facebook Marketplace and resale apps make selling and buying easy for people like Breedlove who are looking to unload slightly bizarre, random items, and people like English who are in the market for them.

"Lots of people are certain to see (the) items for sale,” Breedlove said, of Marketplace, without having to drive around "searching for sales.” 

Folks like English certainly would concur. Hidden among a sea of listings for figurines and gently used wedding decor is a treasure trove of antiques and oddities — evidently anything from antique Ouija boards and decades-old taxidermy mounts to cacti, plants and cemetery plots — as well as buyers and sellers, just waiting for a little luck.

About a year ago, English found a post on Facebook Marketplace advertising a yard sale in Amboy, Ill. Just out of frame in one of the photos were six taxidermy pieces.

She sent the person a message and found out they were $20 each. "I stopped everything I was doing and went to get them,” she said. “It was an older couple, and the man selling the taxidermy had told me that he had hunted all of the animals when he was younger.

“I bought three pieces from him, and he told me each story. ... I currently have the taxidermy goat hanging in our living room, and the taxidermy boar hanging in our office. I also got a taxidermy deer head, but I gave that to a friend.”

These outlets are not just for the inanimate or the dead. They’re for the living, too. For instance, Brandy Wiens, of Moline, sold a large, hardy cactus through Facebook Marketplace.

The cactus quickly lost its novelty in her flowerbed when her husband went to clear some leaves and grabbed a handful of cactus spines, too. So she dug it up, potted it, and put it on her porch.

“But it kind of just started growing down instead of up,” she said. So “I decided at that point it just needed a new owner. ... I just put it up for free (on Facebook Marketplace) with a couple pics, and recommended a tarp or box for transport.

"This lady came to get it, all excited, and I carried it out to her car. She opened the trunk — just a regular carpeted trunk — and I asked if she wanted some bags or cardboard or if she brought anything (to put down). Nope!”

The woman set the pot in the trunk “with the cactus laying out all over the carpet. I'm willing to bet that carpet still has cactus spines in it.”

Just because you cannot wear it, sit on it, plant it, or hang it on your wall does not mean you won't find a buyer for it. For instance, Lisa Grace, of Davenport, is selling two cemetery plots in the Garden of Tranquility at Davenport Memorial Park on Facebook Marketplace for half of "market value."

The spots were purchased for loved ones who have since made other plans.

“I’ve heard that Marketplace is a great place to sell items,” she said.

It’s like “a year-round garage sale,” English said. “It’s perfect for selling an item if you need some fast cash and for buying unique or even everyday items for a great price.”

The classifieds section of the newspaper is a great hard-copy place to do the same. It’s easy to find or advertise for garage sales, estate sales, and individual items, too.

And there’s plenty of weird, quirky stuff to see.

“I’ve worked in classified advertising for 26 years, and nothing surprises me anymore,” said Shane Brown, media consultant with the Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline and Quad-City Times. “Over the years, we’ve seen people selling everything from hand-drawn pictures to apples from their backyard tree. We once had a guy try to sell homemade symbols that he insisted would save any buyer from the devil.”

Perhaps English should look up the local man. Those symbols might come in handy to protect her from her 100-year-old Ouija board.

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