Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Craigslist 101

For people too lazy to organize and man a garage sale, Craigslist is a great tool. Part of our Spring cleaning binge involves selling off furniture and basically anything that's not bolted down. It's been cathartic.

I was a bit leery of using the site at first... I kinda got the impression that it was dumping grounds for crap people didn't need anymore. But then I realized, "Hey, that's what it is - a virtual garage sale!" Extremely convenient and rather profitable, in just a few weeks we have more space in our house and over a $1000 burning in our pockets. And I've just gotten started.

So, you'd think this would be easy - post a picture, set a reasonable price, describe the item accurately and presto! But I was amazed at some of the ads I've encountered. Here's a few helpful hints:

1. Post a picture. Yeah, pretty straightforward.

2. Post a picture of the item that's not covered in crap like this desk. I was amazed at the sheer number of photos with piles of clothes, garbage, wires etc surrounding the object. Also, dusting/cleaning said object is a nice touch.

3. Do some research on comparable items currently being sold. I was surprised at how low some of the items sell for but this is a virtual garage sale. Getting top dollar shouldn't be your number one priority. I look at it as a garbage pickup service that pays me!

4. Include things like "FIRM or OBO" with your asking price. I'm pretty firm on the prices that I've posted but I forgot to include that in the ads. This apparently was an open door for hagglers worldwide. I had one such phone call last night:

"Yes, the desk is $15."
"Would you consider selling it for less?"
"It's $15!!!!! By less, do you mean, FREE?"

One time, someone came to pick up our old 4 poster bed and was $20 short because her ATM ran out of money. This is a common gambit - the last minute, forced-hand haggling. Now I know better. I'll just smile and shut the door next time. "Fine lady, you've probably spent $20 in gas just driving your Chevy Suburban over here from the other side of the river. Sorry it was for naught."

5. Spellcheck/proof your ad. I guess this is a personal pet peeve of mine. What the hell is a "non pet smoking home"?

6. Don't go into the whole personal history of why you are selling said item (put that in the rants/raves section). People have included entire stories of how their spouse cheated on them and they're selling this stuff for cheap to spite them or they're currently in a gambling or shopping support group and they need to pay their bills so that their orphaned children [ed. I thought that was an especially nice touch] can eat.

7. Arranging a time to view/pick up the item. Don't say things like "No, that won't work for me, I won't be home ..." I'm super paranoid so advertising to strangers when my house will or will not be vacant is a bad idea. And if they ask for directions - "GOOGLE IT". You're obviously aware of this thing called the internet. Google it.

8. Lastly, some stuff is just too ugly to sell. Give it up.


  1. You need to come up with silly fake stories for every item you sell, toki! Think of the odd looks and responses you could get...

    You also need to get that couch, it would be a great fit for your place.

  2. What do you mean, get it? We're trying to sell it!

  3. Ah, yes, I am still waiting for the spring cleaning motivation fairy to come and bite my ass. Oh, um, get me into the mood to clean out our crap. Thanks for the pointers!

    I've obviously been off line all weekend, and missed the previous posts. I agree with Q: you need to remove those amazing spring pictures because it's torture to those of us who are sick and tired of snow, gravel, and mud!!!!!

  4. Tip 9. Always be sure to take photos of highly reflective objects in the complete nude to provide entertainment to those surfing for tea kettles.

  5. I did my Spring cleaning in December. I have to wait at least until Summer before I do another major cleaning or, legally, I'll be considered middle-aged.

  6. Ocho ~ Too late, I bought that couch for you. It should be arriving along with the HK online beta stuff.

    Lirri ~ I thought you had some weird bike fairy that bit you on the ass regularly.

    Q ~ Bite Lirri on the ass.

    Gregg ~ It's not middle-aged if you're male. You'll be metrosexual and I'm afraid the ship has sailed on that one, Llava.

  7. Hey toki, that couch, yeah, it's making my eyes bleed. And you were doing so well with the nature pictures too :p

  8. Roel ~ I didn't take that picture! So I'm not responsible.

  9. Hi there,
    I'm confused by reading your text. What are selling for $50?
    ~I'm selling the curl bar, and weights for $50. and I'm selling the dumbbells and weights for $50.
    I see, everything including the black and blue dumbbells for $100. Correct?
    ~Yes. all the weights I have for $100.
    I'm interested. Is there any way you can [pack up 200lbs and drive an hour to] meet me at silver Spring, Maryland?
    ~Sorry, slim chance of that.
    ok, understand. I'm really short in time. I was hoping you could meet me helf way some where. How about in Rockville?
    ~I'm not eager to spend time driving with so much to do still. Also, I have someone who is willing to buy the lot when I return on Monday. Sorry.
    Ok, understood. Plz let me know if things changed.
    Thanks for your time.