Wednesday, July 25

Bag it up [some craigslist tips]

Craigslist is my best friend. I don't even have a "real" best friend who would be mad to hear it- they'd probably just nod their head and agree that, in honesty, I'm pretty damn close with Craig and his lists. I've been working on this post for 5 years, and it has a lot of information, so grab some trail mix before you start on this epic journey of successful online thrifting.

I wanted to show you a rug I got a few weeks ago...yes I did just get this rug as well, but can you ever have too much rug? If you're thinking, "well yes Meaghan, you will eventually run out of floor space", you obviously haven't thought about layering rugs or putting them on your walls. For shame!

This little beauty was $125. It was a pretty typical purchase for me, but I wanted to share with you some tips I have to make your Craigslist experience a little better.

Looks like a nice kilim-style red woven rug, right? Here's a bigger image, rolled out on my office floor- it's a good size rug, 5x8:

Here are some tips and tricks, along with the real-world example of me buying this rug, that may help you out if you're a C-lister newbie.
1. It's all in the search

The Search: How you search is important. First, make sure you're in the right categories (duh). Also, what you type matters- I try to be as specific as possible ("lucite coffee table" instead of "table"). You can also exclude things from your search, the same way you do in a search engine: place a negative sign before words you want eliminated. Right now I have a search for chair. You can imagine how many postings a day that brings up: hundreds. I don't know what type I want exactly, but I do know what I don't want. So, my search is called "Chair -table -stacking -stackable -office -rolling -swivel -dining -kitchen -ikea". It's a mouthful, but since it's an ongoing search, I set it up once and let it run on its own. Easy! Keep in mind that just because you know how to spell things, not everyone else does. And just because you know what mid-century modern means, doesn't mean Joe Craigslist Seller knows what he's got. Search for all variations: mid-century modern, MCM, danish furniture, etc, so you don't limit your options.

The App: I'm personally a HUGE fan of the Craigslist app. It works like a charm and makes searching for new times, as well as checking continuing searches, a breeze. Once you type in a search, you can select categories, set filters, price ranges, and regions, elect to search titles only, and can eliminate adds that don't include pictures. Your search will give titles, prices, and a thumbnail image (if you require pictures, which I always do). Once you open a listing, the image will expand, you'll get the full written description, and you'll have email options that sync to your accounts (making it SO EASY AND FAST to email sellers). You can also star items, which will then show up with your favorites- perfect if you need to run your potential purchases by your boyfriend (guilty).

2. Get in Touch

The Email: I always email first, even if they ask for a call. I never include my phone number, last name, address, etc, even if they say the require it. I always have the title of the item in the email subject line. I always write a full email, request any data I need, suggest a visit time, and act friendly!
Great chair on craigslist! I've been looking for an accent chair for my living room, and that looks perfect. Would you remind providing dimensions?
If this is still available, I'd love to come see it either tonight or tomorrow night after work.
Please let me know what works for you- I look forward to hearing from you!
Best, Meaghan
I think people are more likely to respond if they think you are serious and send a fully articulated email. There are plenty of scammers that will send you an email saying "hi I like your golf clubs are they available?", or even just, "do you still have the item?". If you reply, they now have your email address, and let me tell ya, they will not be trying to set up an appointment to buy your golfing accessories- instead, they will be selling your email address to a sexy phone call company or some nonsense. It has never happened to me, even though I've sold countless items, but people will be cautious, so make sure you sound as legit as possible (and only respond to the legit emails if you're a seller)!

The Phone Call: This is SO not my favorite way to get in touch. I think it's awkward. If you're calling about an item that you desperately want, it's probably your best bet, since you can get an immediate response. Personally, I rely on the email option.

3. In-Person Transaction

If you are going to someone's home: get their address ahead of time and pick a specific time to come by. You don't want to drive out there for nothing. Bring a friend- you really shouldn't ever be going to someone's home alone. Not safe, just dumb. You can even ask them to bring the item outside, so you're never in their home. Be polite, shake their hand, it's going to be a smidge uncomfortable but just think how worth it it will be when that gorgeous deer head/Eames chair/oil painting/ brass étagère is yours!

Another great option is to meet in a public area, like a supermarket or convenience store nearby, but when you're dealing with large furniture or difficult-to-transport items, that's not always an option.

Take your time going over the item. Is it exactly as described? Is it in good condition? Were the photos accurate? Does it fulfill what you were looking for? Pictures lie. Below is the seller photo of my rug; compare it to my (more accurate) pictures of the rug's so PINK. They don't even look like the same rug!! I happened to prefer the red anyway, but if you wanted a pink rug, now would be the time to walk away.

I used to feel so anxious when meeting with a seller that I would often just give the item a quick glance and then pay and then run...not smart. Make sure you WANT the item- it's completely reasonable to walk away if the item isn't exactly what you need. Reviewing the item closely may also give you some bargaining power- did they forget to mention a scratch or a stick drawer? Maybe you can get them to knock off a couple bills.

I almost always barter, because people expect it. They want to get rid of their junk, and if they're selling it on Craigslist, they know that they'll be dealing with bargain hunters. Unless I feel like something is a total steal, I always ask if they can be flexible with price, then suggest a specific dollar amount. I'd say 80% of the time people are willing to come down in price. If you don't want to shock them in person, you can even mention it in your initial email: D and I had our eye on a Restoration Hardware leather chair, but it was listed for $800. I emailed the seller and told him that, if he couldn't find a seller after a few weeks and needed to sell, I was willing to pay him $400 for the chair. It actually worked out- he was unable to sell and was moving overseas, and was willing to accept my offer. And that chair is BALLER.

That's all I have for you at the moment. I'll share some of my favorite Craigslist finds next week with you- trust me, there are GREAT items out there.

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