Friday, May 22, 2015

How to Craigslist Like a Pro

Warning: this post may destroy what remains of your free time (but no more than pinterest or instagram did).  I know you don't need me telling you how many amazing deals can be found in your local area with Craigslist, but within a few search sessions it can burn you out fast.  It's like shopping the clearance rack at Macy's when seasons are changing.  Everything is mixed in and shoved together and your eyes hurt after a few minutes and you decide you'd rather just pay full price for something new then have to dig through this horrible mess for another second.  Don't give up quite yet people; here's a way to organize the chaos and shop Craigslist like a pro!

1) Save Your Preferences

I always default my search to Furniture and only include "owner" posted sales (no dealers!!), and only include posts with images.  Why waste my time scrolling through a bunch of stuff I'm not interested in or can't see?  Filter that junk out.

2) Search by Manufacturer

Instead of searching for broad items like "table" I like to search for my favorite brands -- furniture makers that I know I like and trust. This way I know the items I'm browsing are the quality I'm looking for, and it really filters out the junk posts.  Here's a quick list of the brands I obsessively look for:

Hooker
Drexel
Stanley
American Drew
Bassett
Bernhardt
Lexington
Thomasville
Check out this amazing American Drew Dining Room Set for sale in Cary for $1999 via
Some of these items are going to be very expensive (people know they are selling quality brands here and are advertising as such by putting the brand name in their post).  But if you stay patient you can find fantastic deals.  My Thomasville dining room set was $500 and Lucy just picked up a great dining room set for $180.  It may be the deal of a lifetime, but if you are patient you'll find yours too.

Read more about my Craigslist dining room here

3) Use the Craigslist Pro App

The basic app is free (you can upgrade to Premium but I've found no reason to honestly), and makes browsing Craigslist even easier.  The reason? You can save your searches, so you don't even have to type in all of those furniture brands you are chasing.  About once or twice a week I just flip through all of my saved search items on the Craigslist Pro App and see if anything pops up I'm interested in. If you upgrade to premium you can save your favorite posts to easily find them later, or you can just hit "share" and text or email the post to yourself for easy access for free without the premium upgrade.  You can even email the poster right from the app if you want to set up a time to look at their item.

4) Search By Specifics

Say you want something in a certain style (Chinoiserie anyone?) and not just a specific manufacturer. I almost guarantee if you type Chinoiserie into Craigslist you will return nothing.  That doesn't mean there aren't a ton of great items that fit this style, but you have to think on the level of your average Craigslist user.  In NC, that means you better search "oriental"  or "Chinese".   Searching by "bone inlay" or "federal mirror" or "garden stool" doesn't turn up many items either.  But I keep these searches saved because I know one day something is going to pop up that's incredible and I will be like that spider in the corner just waiting to snatch it before you guys do.  Unless you want to search through endless pages of poorly refinished furniture or dog chewed wood, searching by "shabby chic" may not be the best use of your time.

For example "inlay" returned this today:
These great side tables are only $50 for the pair in Five Points.  Get them quick
5) Be Patient

I know when you want something you want it now.  But getting things now is not the best way to use Craigslist.  It took me 6 months of searching to find our Hooker bookcase, and honestly it just makes it that much sweeter when you bring your item home.  There is always something new on Craigslist. Just wait til next week if you aren't sure you are finding what you want.

I had looked for a bookcase for so long, the minute I saw this Hooker bookcase on Craigslist I emailed the poster.  Didn't even bother asking my husband -- I knew it was the one.  Well, and maybe the $80 price tag sealed the deal.
6) Have a Pick Up Plan

So you've found the perfect item and it's time to actually bring it to your home.  Furniture is heavy, and we're talking about solid wood furniture.  This isn't a Target run.  Make sure you have an appropriate vehicle -- no matter how small the furniture seems it probably won't fit in your Toyota Corolla.  I made this mistake already.  I thought I could bring home an end table.  It's just a little end table right?  End tables made by real furniture companies won't fit inside your car or your trunk.  If you have an SUV or truck you probably are set, but renting a UHaul or cargo van is a great option. For local travel these rentals are really quite affordable!

That Drexel end table between my couches was the one I thought I could move in my car.  Doesn't it look so small and movable?  Looks can be deceiving.
Don't be afraid to ask for help.  When I bought our dining room set, my husband and I rented a UHaul and drove to the seller's house.  Then we started moving.  Chairs, easy.  Table, hmm a little heavy but we got it.  China cabinet was already split apart by the seller into top section and bottom section. Literally I went to lift one side of the bottom section and nothing happened.  My husband on the other side was like "are you lifting?"  I was trying but literally I could not get it to budge.  I don't know if I've ever felt so helpless.  Literally if my life depended on moving that china cabinet I wouldn't have been able to get it an inch off the ground.  Luckily we were able to get reinforcements to meet us to finish the move, but what a fiasco!  Just assume that you need at least 2 men to lift anything that's cabinet or chest size.

Also, be prepared to get dirty.  I've picked up furniture that's covered in dust and cobwebs and who knows what.  My shirt after the recent bookcase move was literally like I rolled around in a mound of dryer lint. Craigslist shopping is freaking dirty, but do I expect people to clean their furniture for $80? Yeah, let's be realistic.  So make sure you have a game plan for cleaning the furniture before it's in your house.  We like to have a vacuum and cloth with dusting spray by the front door so I don't have to traipse too far inside in my dirt covered clothing before the furniture is ready to be moved indoors.
Have any other Craigslist tips?  We love to hear your stories and advice!



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