Craigslist Tips and Campaign Dresser Find

Over the weekend, while working on the fence and steps, Greg and I cleaned and organized the garage about as much as we can around the items we’re putting in our future garage sale.

That meant creating a dozen or so free craigslist ads.  We have all but one item gone and more room to work and a place for my grandpa’s lathe which my family is bringing here for us along with a few pieces of furniture-one being the antique table Greg restored back when it was merely a hobby in college.

Last week I spotted this $25 campaign (style) dresser on craigslist. One of those items the person had called a cabinet and nowhere in the ad did they put dresser or chest of drawers (people use interchangeably these days) or even nightstand so not many would come across it.  After some ridiculous remarks from an “educated urbanite” in Minneapolis in response to my free bike-calling me an “uneducated, Catholic hick” just for living in a small town in the metro, mind you, because he thought I lived too far for anyone to drive to get the bike.  I set the moron right.  Little did he know who he was talking to-an experienced craigslister who does alright for herself, and her husband, selling pieces of furniture we work hard to restore and refinish.  Plus, it was a FREE bike.

All of these things got me thinking about how I search, post and generally deal with craigslist.  So, I wrote down some tips to share.

I’ve used craigslist as my main source for finding and selling furniture for years and years along with other materials.  Before we salvaged and collected furniture, I was using craigslist, Amazon and ebay in college to buy and sell (that was about 10 years ago).  I feel like a pro to some extent.

One of my tips for craigslist listing is to think about what someone else would call an item and add it to the post along with the most common name for something (a dresser could be called storage or chest of drawers or credenza and things along that line). To go further, try to think of a style/era to list (modern, mid-century, vintage, antique, regency, Hollywood regency, deco, Danish, etc.), where or how it could be used (in a nursery, as a nightstand, etc.) or terms your demographic might use to look for your item. If your demographic shops at Pottery Barn, Room & Board, DWR, or Blu dot for example, use descriptions the stores use or even the store name in your ad (but not in the title because that’s misleading for those searching the actual store brand items).  I find that it is important to do these things if you want to receive whatever amount (or close) that you’re asking.  You’ll have a better chance of finding the right people.

If you’re searching, think about the features or materials used to make the item you’re looking for and search those terms too. For example, if you’re looking for an ‘antique loveseat,’ put in ‘tufted’ and see if you come across something-assuming you want tufts and I’d say the majority of antique loveseats have tufted backs and/or seats. Want something made of teak just put in ‘teak’ instead of a specific piece of furniture (not ‘teak credenza’ for example). In that case narrow it down by category or you could be sorting through pages of stuff completely unrelated.  Hello, flat tire.  Wha?

Also, think about how someone might misspell something.  There are creative spellers out there.

Sometimes people will list if something needs work.  Search refinish, sanded, project, painted, veneer, etc. within whatever category your item could be.  I’ve found furniture in the ‘antique’ section (of course) or ‘household’ or ‘general’ so switch it up with the categories.

On the other hand, if you put in a feature or term you are sometimes assuming the seller knows just what they have (sometimes) and may face disappointment when you go to get the item or face a more knowledgeable seller (i.e. one who knows the value of the piece) thus your item may not be too thrifty and seller firm on the price.

If I intend to ask to pay less I ask before I get there and in a polite, respectful way. Still I find it touchy. Much of this advice comes from years of experience with sellers and finding trends in how they handle craigslist and potential buyers.  But if something has been listed for a while maybe it’s time to ask. The worst they could do is say no….and write you a nasty email, maybe report you for no reason…ok, use common sense when offering a lesser amount.

Ask the questions you have ahead of time then ask again when you meet but keep in mind that you never know if the person who has what you want is someone that checks their email regularly or returns calls so timing and communication are important. Especially if you live a distance away from them then someone else could swoop in and get your goody. Depends on how bad you want the thing.

I try to include a few options as to when I’m available to get the ball rolling and to show my dedication to/adoration for the item. Scheduling a meeting as soon as you can using the seller’s accepted way of communicating-email, phone, text-will help you stand out in their minds. People who do the same for my items usually get first dibs because I think “gee, they have communicated regularly and have made an appointment…they must be serious.”

But that said, as soon as someone skips out on a meeting I go on to the next person if there is one…something I didn’t do in the past and pretty much felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall. Fool me twice and I’ll give you a third chance was how it went.

It’s usually safe to assume someone would like to see the thing gone sooner rather than later. Forgot to mention above that mutually chosen way of communicating also means letting the person know if you don’t hand your phone number out or if you don’t do texts and if say emailing or calling is the best way to contact you. Whatever works for you both.  I found recently that more and more people want to text. I pay per text and don’t have it on my phone plan.  With ways to send free messages I see no need to use texting-especially if your phone works, you know, as a phone and you can call someone or receive email.

I keep those tips in mind every time I use craigslist…pretty much everyday. I’d say I do pretty well finding gems for cheap. My home and business rely on it.

So voila, I found a cabinet that’s really a dresser/chest of drawers that’s really a great piece of furniture that is highly sought-after for cheap. Greg picked it up Monday after work. It was about 20 miles in the opposite direction of home but for $25 we didn’t mind.

Another thing to keep in mind is how much will the item cost to get in gas and time. Put a value on your time and keep an amount in your mind you are willing to pay that includes all those factors and only rarely say screw it, I’m still getting the thing…yes, I have done this.

I have a makeover planned for this campaign dresser.  I don’t know when I’ll get to it but it’s coming.

Do you have any craigslist or thrifting tips? Have you met some real sweethearts or creeps?

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