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December 20, 2010

I think I need to join the FAA.  No, not the airlines one… the Furniture Addicts Anonymous one.  I have a serious furniture addiction lately, and Craigslist seems to be my supplier.

Let’s start at the beginning.  When I was little, my parents (though mostly my dad) liked to stop at yard sales to check out what people were selling.  For those of you who don’t understand or like yard sales (tag sales, garage sales, whatever you call them in your part of the country), you have no idea what you could be missing.  I love how you can find some amazing pieces that have some real potential if you just give them a little work.  I also love being thrifty.  This past summer, when B and I were zoning in on furniture we needed for our first apartment, I used yard sales as a way of finding an inexpensive kitchen table and chairs.  About a mile down the road from my parents’ house, there was a middle-aged man who had a really nice set out in the front of his yard sale.  Four chairs and a drop-leaf table.  Seventy-five dollars.  Sure, it needed a little work as it had a scrape and a couple of stains, but it was nothing my dad, B, and I couldn’t fix.  This table ended up sparking my love of refinishing furniture.

After that, B and I went to other yard sales during the summer and found a side table for our living room for $5, a bureau from my parents’ basement for free (thanks guys!), a like-new comfy couch from our friends who were moving to Texas for $250, and a side table for my side of the bed for $30.  The rest of the furniture we now have we already had acquired.  And I thought we were done.  After all, the summer was drawing to a close and people were packing up their unwanted goodies for next year.

Then I remembered Craigslist when I discovered that we needed a small side table for our dining room.  Remember how that green tote just didn’t look right for our wireless internet boxes?  I scoured Craigslist every day and ended up finding something I liked at the Christmas Tree Shoppe.  It was about $35 and just the size we needed.  And we were done.  Hah.  Yeah right.

I sat down one afternoon and thought about what else we could possibly need for our future home.  As a planner, I like to think ahead.  In this case, way ahead.  If I could score some killer deals now to make our home gorgeous, why not?  Eventually, we may have kids (which take money) and/or pets (which also take money), and since we don’t have those now, we could use the tiny bit of extra we have to invest in some pieces.  I turned to Craigslist again.

Here is what I have found and loved thus far.  There is, of course, always another day for great finds to go up, so I keep my options open, but when an opportunity strikes, I am ready for it:

This would have made an amazing piece for our future dining room or kitchen.  Just think of everything I could have stored in it!  I would have painted it cobalt blue and white.  Sadly, it was already spoken for when I emailed the seller this afternoon.  Sigh.This little beauty (it’s called a setee) is a STEAL!  I originally fell in love with the design of it last week when the seller posted it, but when I emailed, I got a response that it was going for $135.  No way was I going to pay that.  So I kissed it goodbye and moved on.  This morning, however, when I was stalking Craigslist during lunch, the ad popped up again with a new claim that everything would be selling for under $60.  That’s more my speed!  I emailed again and found that the price has gone down to $45.  Much much much better.  I plan on going to look at this after school on Wednesday.  if I like it (and B is okay with me getting it), it will live at the foot of our bed.There is something about this piece that just screams out to me.  Okay, maybe you are thinking that it is the giant stain on the top that is screaming for help, but I think there is some definite potential here.  With a sanding and a new coat of paint, this could be a really nice piece.  And you know how much I am paying for it?  $12.  That’s it.  Now I just have to make my schedule mesh with its current owners…

In the short amount of time I have dealt with Craigslist, I do have some pointers for those who are a little confused.  These points are by no means brilliant, but they may save you some headaches along the way.

  1. Know your price limits.  There is no use looking at items that you know you can’t afford.  If you like it and it’s way too expensive, you’ll just end up angry.  Know what you are willing and able to spend.
  2. Know what you want to look for.  Hundreds of people post everything every single day, and it can get really overwhelming to browse.  Have an idea of what you would like to see what don’t be afraid to type it into the search box.  If you have extra time on your hands and some patience, try free browsing.  It may suck you in!
  3. Let the pictures be your friends.  Look for posts that have pictures with them, and if you find something interesting without a picture, email the poster.  If they don’t email back, don’t waste your time.
  4. Know your area.  How far are you willing to drive to get it?  Do you have a vehicle that will hold said purchase?  Google maps is super helpful if you don’t know where a town is.
  5. Bring a friend.  I wholeheartedly believe in the buddy system.  As a female, I think it’s a survival mechanism.  I always bring B with me when I go to look at something.
  6. Look at the piece before buying it.  If you know you want it, great, but make sure you look it over first.  There are no returns on Craigslist.
  7. Don’t be afraid to negotiate the price.  Most people post their goods as a certain amount “obo” (or best offer).  Make them an offer!  The lovely side table above was originally posted for $15 to $20.  I said $10, he said $12, I said deal.  If someone is firm on the price, it should say it in the post.
  8. Use cash to pay and always pay in person when you receive the item.  Don’t fall victim to a scam or identity theft.  Have cash in hand for the decided price when you look at the piece.

So on to other Craigslist adventures!  What have you found lately?

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