Y Combinator-Backed Local Marketplace App Yardsale Launches Nationwide

Yardsale, a mobile app to help folks sell goods to local buyers, is now available throughout the U.S., after a long, long period of testing in the San Francisco Bay Area. The latest version of the app, which hooks into Craigslist and enables users to easily list items for sale, hopes to take on other local marketplaces by reducing the friction associated with creating listings, and then dealing with flaky buyers afterward.

The Yardsale guys believe that everyone has some stuff they’d like to get rid of, if only Craigslist and eBay weren’t such a pain in the ass to deal with. On Craigslist, you’re faced with buyers who’d rather spend time haggling than actually buying your stuff. And when you do agree on a price, you never know whether your buyer will actually show up to, you know, buy the items. As for eBay, well, you are up against a growing number of small businesses, which have cropped up to largely make individual sellers seem irrelevant. In either case, it’s not a good user experience.

The key to the Yardsale app is that listing items for sale is incredibly easy. Like, Instagram easy. It’s betting that by allowing users to quickly take pictures and add them to an item listing, it will be able to help get those items sold. Pictures — more than text or anything else — are what buyers look at when they want to purchase an item, so the more the better.

In addition to listing items for sale within the Yardsale app, users can also do all the usual social sharing you’d expect in the 21st century: tweeting out to Twitter and posting to your Facebook friends. Better yet, though, Yardsale posts directly to Craigslist, which, for all of its faults and crappy design, is still probably the best and most-used place on the web for local sales.

But the good news is that all Craiglist listings feed back through Yardsale, so users don’t have to worry about an influx of irrelevant emails, and instead receive real-world offers for the stuff they want to sell.

Beyond Craigslist, though, Yardsale hopes to bring the idea of community back to the local sales process. Once upon a time, eBay used to have a community of loyal buyers and sellers, before it became enamored with power sellers — small businesses with large inventories that largely pushed individuals out of the sales process. That focus on community is paying off, at least in the San Francisco launch test, where nearly 80 percent of users who buy or sell an item come back to do so again after that initial transaction is completed.

The app is free for users who wish to list items — and even free for those who sell them, at least for a limited time. But after an unspecified period of time, it’ll start taking a 10 percent cut of transactions when the seller makes money.

Yardsale was part of the Y Combinator Summer 2011 class, and has spent the past year under the radar, testing its app and getting it ready for broader release. Over that time, it’s focused on its home turf — the San Francisco Bay Area — and facilitating sales here. But the startup now feels ready to make its service available nationwide.

The Yardsale team is five strong and based in San Francisco, but it’s hiring. With availability spreading throughout the U.S., that’s probably a good idea.