…Be it known henceforth that we the people are too cool to say “Craigslist” anymore, so from this moment onward we shall refer to Craig’s sacred memoranda as “The List”. We will dumbfound mere mortals with our insider lingo as we patter our patois (cant, argot, vernacular, jargon) to one another using catch phrases like “MCM” and “The List”. Little shall they realize that our mysterious and much-revered source for amazing decor “pieces” is the much-less-eloquently named and suspiciously-devoid-of-an-apostrophe compost pile of the internet, Craigslist…
Very well, moving on.
I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into poring over Craigslist postings, interacting with sellers, viewing and picking up items, photographing pieces, writing descriptions, interacting with buyers. What this has gotten me, besides a plethora of bruises (seriously people, I bruise like an apple), many stress related headaches, and probably some damaged eyesight from staring at a screen for too long, is just a little bit more knowledge/experience with Craigslist than your average dorky brunette twenty-something.
Craigslist – the Compost Pile of the Internet
Craigslist is the place where things from grannies’ attics go to die. Where scuffed designer shoes and knock-off handbags wither away and expire after the 40-day posting period. Where unappealingly stained mattresses linger on while NOBODY WANTS THEM or will even give them a second glance.
Unfortunately, if you want the deals, and I mean the really good deals, like $25 for a gorgeous mid-century dresser kind of good, you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and wade into the messy, icky, stinky, composty muck. It’s not a pretty world. It’s a world full of difficult to decipher listings, things listed as “solid wood” that aren’t, and things listed as “mid century” that aren’t, and just a barren wasteland of missing or abused apostrophes, misspelled words, homophones or mondegreens.
Disclaimer: Type A’s beware of Craigslisting… you may find yourself furiously fuming in as little as sixty seconds should you choose to visit this deeply disturbing yet hauntingly compelling domain…
But it’s also a place full of hidden gems, the most unlikely economics, and some seriously amusing, pleasant, and lovely people you’ll meet along the way.
Should you decide to continue, and would like to take your Craigslisting to the next level, I present to you Part 1 of my new ambitiously-declared series “Shopping the List”:
Keywords & Search Terms
In a perfect world, if you’re looking for a “Mid Century Dresser” or a “Brass Bamboo Coffee Table”, those would be the exact words you type into the search bar to receive exactly the results you’re looking for. It may work – you might find an exact match – but I can almost guarantee you that the results you’ll find will be overpriced and you’ll be shopping from a dealer. It’s pretty simple – if the seller knows what they’re selling, it’s more expensive.
Shopping from a dealer isn’t all that bad. Sometimes you can get a great deal – sometimes even I (cheapskate of the year since 1995) am willing to pay what a dealer wants for an item. But it bugs me. I like to cut out the middle man (haha, I’m talking myself out of business here) and go straight to the source. You will almost always pay more for something advertised as a “Hollywood Regency Chest of Drawers” than for something called an “Old Bamboo Dresser”.
Craigslist Tip 1: get generic with your search terms, and try a few mispellings as well.
A Craigslist Amateur:
- Searches Craigslist for exactly what he’s looking for – “antique white desk”, “burl coffee table”, “brass bed frame”.
- Pays extra for the convenient keywords.
A Craigslist Addict:
- types in “dresser”, “table”, “desk” etc. in her selected category (my frequented categories are “Furniture by Owner” or “Antiques”)
- possibly having selected the option to “search titles only”
- selects “show images”
- sets a maximum price of $25 – $50 more than she is willing to pay (leaving room to make an offer)
- and sets a minimum price of $2 to weed out the postings with either no listed prices or with $1 as the listed price even though the item inside the posting is listed at, say, $697.
- [She avoids at all costs “Furniture by Dealer”, because it’s a freaking cesspool of spam, pardon my language, but that just shows you how strongly I feel about that particular category on Craigslist.]
- just may have an app or two at her disposal for mobile-listing like Craigslist+ (my personal favorite… and I’m totally willing to get paid to say that, but I’m not currently).
- clicks on links for “old dressers” and squints at poorly-lit, grainy, and upside down photos for hours.
- tries multiple spellings of words. For example “mid-century,” “midcentury,” “mid century”. [Sucks to be you if you’re unfortunate enough to be looking for an “armoire”: actual listings may say “armwah”, “armoir”, “armour”, “armoor”, “amore”, etc. I am not making this up, I swear, I have seen it with my own eyes].
- brainstorms synonyms like “bookcase” or “shelf/shelves” or “shelving unit” when she’s really looking for a cool etagere.
- reads cool blogs like “The Gathered Home”…