One of my all-time favorite Craigslist purchases - this green cabinet - was a diamond in the rough.
So I know almost everyone in the english-speaking world has heard of Craigslist - but to my amazement, I've discovered that a ton of my friends are not frequent buyers or sellers! It's my understanding this lack of involvement usually stems from a lack of knowledge about the site and it's many intricacies - spoiler alert people, it's not rocket science!
I love the thrill of the treasure hunt, and just like estate sales, you never know what you'll find in you own backyard. Truth be told, I have absolutely driven 40 miles away for a really great purchase, and I'm not ashamed. I think my husband would probably kiss the ground I walked on if I swore off Craigslist for good (Sorry Mark, you married an addict) but I just simply can't give it up.
We drove almost an hour to get this little brass table once... I'm a woman possessed!
I started Craigslist-ing when I was in college and have amassed a little set of "rules" I try to follow to ensure that A) I am always safe and B) I always find the best deals! Below are my ten commandments of Craigslist:
1) Thou Shalt ask questions - If you are unsure about an item, it never hurts to ask for additional photos, measurements, details, etc. I have purchased quite a few items that upon first glance were not so great, but looked much better from a different angle!
2) Use thy imagination - Craigslist is the ultimate place to find a fixer-upper. I purchased the chest in my living room (above) off Craig's, sanded it down, added many coats of green glossy paint, new hardware, and voila! It's always important to remember that one man's trash could be your new treasure!
3) Thou shalt not pay full price - I ALWAYS offer lower than the asking price. Typically sellers build a little wiggle room into their pricing anyways for negotiations (at least I always try to). Even if they only knock off $5, I love the feel of a good bargain!
4) Pick up thine own purchases - this is a simple courtesy, but some buyers overlook the fact that the seller is not here to provide them with free delivery service. Offer to pick up your purchase yourself, and if you simply are not able, offer some extra cash if the seller can provide delivery. Simple as that.
5) Limit thy communication to normal waking hours - nothing is more inconsiderate to me than someone texting me at 1am asking to buy one of my ads (I could rant for days about late-night texters). I too enjoy a good Craigslist trolling session when I can't sleep, but generally I try to follow this simple rule: If I wouldn't text a client at this time of night/morning, I won't text a seller.
6) Thou shalt never advertise thine own address - this one seems like a no-brainer, but I have seen several postings that go something like this "I live at 1234 Sunny Rd and I'm not home from work until 5:30, so please don't come before then" - these people are basically begging to get robbed. I arrange the pick-up time with my buyer, and have them call me when they are on the way. Only if I am home do I give my address - very simple. I do like to provide a general area, cross streets, etc. so the buyer can have an idea of how far apart we are. I think it should go without saying that this rule also applies to your children when posting ads for children's furniture, etc. Perhaps I am just paranoid, but If I were the "Craigslist killer" I'd sure look for the seller with lots of kids in their photos...
7) Meet up with thy neighbor - I did a lot of Craigslist purchasing when I lived in my "single girl" apartment, and I did not want some random dude who may or may not be a serial killer seeing where my roomie and I lived... alone (do you sense a paranoia theme yet?). In those days was a big fan of the "let's meet up at the parking lot of Target". A well-lit area with lots of bystanders is key, and it goes without saying that you shouldn't do a meet-up after dark. Bringing a friend along is always a good idea.
8) Have a man at thy house - this may be a little old-fashioned of me, but I always like to mention the fact that my husband will be home when a buyer comes over. Even mentioning that your boyfriend, roommate, next door neighbor will be "around to help with the heavy lifting" is good. Anything you can do to let a potential buyer know that you will not be home alone!
9) Thou shalt not accept personal checks - I always include "cash only, no checks" in my ads. I assumed this was a no-brainer, until one day these really sweet girls came over to purchase a dresser from me, hauled it down two flights of stairs, loaded it up in their friend's truck, and handed me a check. I had to awkwardly explain to them that I didn't know them from Adam and would they please pay me in cash. Laying your ground rules out in your postings can help smooth over an otherwise uncomfortable situation.
10) Do thy research prior to posting - Craigslist is not 1st Dibs. It's not even Ebay. You are never going to get as much cash for an item as you originally put into it. It took me some time to figure this one out. When I first began selling things around my house, I would ask way too much and the postings would get no traction. Eventually I learned to research my market a little better before posting. For example - if I have a small bench I want to sell, I take a look at what other sellers are listing their benches for and compare the condition, size, age, etc. to my piece. I find that if I price competitively, my pieces sell pretty quickly!
Do any of you have any tips or tricks that I'm missing out on? Hoping this post inspires you to do a little Craigs creeping for yourself!