Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tips for Navigating Craigslist

*Disclosure: this was featured on Fresh Quince in December 2010. I thought it would be a great post to share again for those that missed it.*

After a disappointing morning in an attempt to get a Craigslist find yesterday, I thought it would be a good idea to share my story and give some helpful hints that I have learned along the way. I traveled an hour to get what I believed was the perfect entry table for my home. When I finally arrived and saw the item, it was not the correct size and was extremely wobbly. The owner was not there and I had to negotiate with the room mate. Since I was already there, I offered way below what she was asking. The room mate called the owner and the owner said no, so I left. I understand you always have to see a piece in person, but if she had been upfront with me and said the demilune table was wobbly and given the correct size, then I would have saved my time.

So here is my updated checklist:

1. Ask as many questions as you can think of before picking it up, especially if they are not close by. Examples:

  • Is this item sturdy? 
  • Does it come from a smoke-free and if you have allergies pet-free home? 
  • How old is it and does it need any repair? 
  • Has it been in storage for a long time? 
  • Are there any defects?
  • If it is an upholstered item and you don't want to re-upholster, then ask...Could you send me a close-up image of the fabric? 
  • Has it been sprayed with a stain repellent as I avoid like to avoid the chemicals in these repellents? (but that may not be important to you)
  • Ask for the exact dimensions if not already stated in the listing. 
  • And if you are like me ask about the history of the piece. How long have they had it? Is it a family heirloom? I am always interested in a furniture's history. I think that is why I like Craigslist so much, it's more personal than a vintage shop.
2. If they are far, then it never hurts to ask if they can meet you half way. 

3. Don't have some one else pick up the item before you have a chance to see it. My father picked up a chair for me and it was not at all what I was expecting, so it is best to see it for yourself. 

4. It never hurts to ask if the seller will accept less for the item. I am on a tight budget and most sellers are understanding because they just want to get rid of the item to free up their home. But, remember to ask politely and state your case. 

5. Don't feel obligated to buy it if you are in front of the seller. My friend ended up with a kitchen table and 4 chairs that she has never liked.

6. If you are not handy, nor have the time and the item needs a lot of work, then don't get it and think some day you will get to it. (I think I need to follow my own advice.)

7. Be positive and be friendly! I always approach my inquiries with  kindness. I was selling a really expensive door (it came with my home) a year ago and the woman that was inquiring about it was so rude and abrupt that I was uncomfortable having her come to my home, so she missed out on a deal and I ended up giving it away to my super friendly contractor.

But alas all's well that ends well!! At the end of the day I did get an incredible deal on CL and with the help of a good friend and my son (he provided entertainment in the way of holiday Carols). With lots of laughs on the way I got these beauties (which my friend who reads my blog asked me right away "so what color are you going to paint them?" heehee)...

image 2107545007-0
Image from the CL posting

image 2107545007-2        
Image from the CL posting

And the color is going to be...


I have been navigating Craigslist for many years and have gotten many lovely items from it and plan to get many more. Hope my tips have been helpful and good luck!


  1. These are very good tips. I am continually surprised by the lack of courtesy from my CL buyers these days...! Perhaps I should include these recommendations in my next CL postings! :)

  2. This is just what I needed! Thanks for re-posting--I'd missed it the first time around! :)