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July 23, 2013

10 Craigslist Tips & Tricks

10 Craigslist Tips & Tricks: How to find the best stuff & save money. There are some really great tips in this!
If you're willing to do a little extra work, secondhand items are a great way to create a really unique home on a small budget. And you know I mean it! One of my favorite sources of great secondhand items is Craigslist. And since you've asked, today I thought I'd share a few of my favorite tips. So, here they 10 Craigslist Tips!

#1. Frequency, Baby.
When it comes to Craigslist shopping, frequency is key. It's just like thrifting in that the more you do it, the better stuff you're gonna find. There are hundreds of items in each area that go up on Craigslist every single day, and most of the time the good stuff is gone in less than a day. I check the site several times a week and search for the specific items I'm looking for. With a little persistence, I can usually find exactly what I looking for.
 For example, after a few weeks of searching for a very specific item...a Queen Anne style tufted upholstered chair (for under $20...mandatory.), I found this hottie for $15. 

10 Craigslist Tips & Tricks: How to find the best stuff & save money. There are some really great tips in this!

This little thang needs some work, but I'm thinking it will be the perfect subject for me to learn how to reupholster something with tufting. 
This experiment could go downhill FAST, so wish ol' blue luck.

#2. Use Keywords
Knowing how to use keywords is super helpful when finding the right stuff on Craigslist. Let's use my Queen Anne tufted chair as an example. If you are looking specifically for that, search 'Queen Anne Tufted Upholstered Chair'. If nothing shows up with your super specific search, try leaving out different words and just searching 'Queen Anne Chair' or 'Tufted Chair' or 'Upholstered Chair'. You never know how people will describe their item, so you may have to use several variations of your keywords.

Personally, I love using Craigslist to find great antique and vintage pieces that can't be found in stores anymore, and these keywords are a great starting point. 

10 Craigslist Tips & Tricks: How to find the best vintage & antique furniture on Craigslist! GREAT tips!

For example, I found this amazing mirror just today for $50. 

#3.  Use multiple spellings 
If you can't find anything with keywords, try different spellings of the word. Misspellings are a common problem on Craigslist, and if a word is spelled wrong, you may not find the listing. For example, when I found my office desk, I was searching for 'tables', as I knew I wanted to use a small dining table as my desk. After coming up empty handed, I randomly decided to try searching 'tabel' and that's when I found the perfect table for $50 that had gone unnoticed for two weeks. I realize it's ridiculous, but you would be amazed at how often this trick has worked for me. 

10 Craigslist Tips & Tricks: How to find the best stuff & save money. There are some really great tips in this!

#4. Use synonyms
Similar to #3, if nothing else is working, try searching for synonyms of the item you want to find. For example, when searching for my table, I searched for all sorts of related items like the following: dining table, entryway table, buffet, console table, sideboard, wooden furniture, furniture, dining set, desk. Eventually, it's highly likely you will find something

#5. Search By Picture.
To make all of this searching a bit easier, I always choose to search in 'pic view', and then also click on the tab above that says 'has image'. This filters out all the listings that don't have images, and then allows you to see all the pictures in the rest of the listings. You can hover over any of the thumbnails, and the big picture will pop up. It's an awesome feature and makes life so much easier.
If you're life revolves around Craigslist. UNITE!

10 Craigslist Tips & Tricks: How to find the best stuff & save money. There are some really great tips in this!

#6. Look for things with a great shape.
When looking for your next great piece of furniture, don't be deterred by things that just look ugly. Seriously. Give it a minute and look beyond the headgear and jorts. As long as they have a great shape, and you're willing to do a little work, you can always paint, stain, reupholster, and bedazzle just about anything. For example, this poor little fella I found on Craigslist a few years ago...once an ugly duckling... a total swan.

#7. Negotiate
Once you've actually found an item you're interested in, it's time to contact the seller. I usually prefer to email a seller first and negotiate the price right off the bat, offering less than what it is listed for. Once the details are worked out, I follow up with a phone call to setup the meeting. 

Here's what you need to know. Craigslist is like a garage sale. People usually expect you to haggle. Basically, at the 8AM garage sale you're gonna pay $30 for that amazing lamp. By 3PM, the seller is loading it in your van for free. 

When I was looking for a headboard for our guest bedroom last year, I found a great wood headboard for $50, and was able to negotiate it down to $25 by letting the seller know that I could pick it up that same day.

#8. Be quick.
 I've learned from selling on Craigslist, that if a buyer can't arrange to pickup the item quickly, I'll usually just move on to another interested buyer. Buyers can be flaky like a croissant on Craigslist, so sellers usually won't wait around for you if there are other interested buyers. You'll get dropped like a hotcake. If you want to get the good stuff, and at a great price, let the seller know that you can get the item ASAP and then follow through.

#9. Feel free to say no thank you.
 If you show up to get the item, and it just isn't what you expected, say no thank you. For example, I should have totally employed this tip on the table that is still haunting me to this day. Do your due diligence before hand and ask about measurements or anything else not in the listing so that you can avoid an awkward situation and avoid inconveniencing some sweet old man with a table.

#10. Stay SAFE.
We prefer to buy from people we've talked to on the phone. It leaves a record, and puts us at ease by hearing their voice. We always setup our meeting at a public location away from our home and let a friend or relative know when and where we'll be, along with the make/model of the car and the name of the person we're meeting. I almost always buy smaller items that can be transported to a secondary location, but if I have to go to someone's home, I always take Jesse or a super burly relative with me. Burly men come in handy when lifting large items and/or fending off weirdos. 
Have one handy.

Don't make him fish you. 

Basically, just be cautious, trust your gut, and do things the right way. As long as you are careful, you can really find some awesome stuff and have tons of ridiculously odd fun doing it.

Virginia and Jesse post-craiglisting circa 2011. (That might also just be an awesome engagement picture, but it serves our purposes, so shhhhhh.)

So, that is all for today, my friends! Thanks so much for stopping by! Feel free to pin this post so you can find it later!
Happy Craigslisting!

That's all for today! 'Til next time!
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  1. Fabulous tips - especially that list of words to search for. I don't even know what most of them mean, but now I know that if I look them up, I'm going to find some sweet stuff... ;)


    1. Ha! I love it, Bailey! Thank you! I've found several keyword lists that I've been testing out for awhile, and those words are my faves so far! They seem to pull up the best stuff! Thanks love! :)

  2. Love it! You should try the grid view- I just started using it and it's SO SO AWESOME. Like, rock my world awesome.

    1. Ooooooh, girl! Don't make me edit my tips now! HA! I love it.......I've been ignoring ol' grid boy. Now I've gotta go check him out. Craigslist.....neverending innovation. :)

    2. Right?! Also, I may or may not have just entered all of your keywords into CL to search my area...and now I have a list of things that I just NEED. I need a U-Haul.

  3. Great tips, especially about the "tabel"turned "table"! HAHA! My husband and I have purchased so many things on facebook, including our dog! (well not really purchased, we got her from a family who couldn't keep her decision. ever!!) Besides, the dog, we have purchased a daybed and trundle for $60, sconces, a desk, filing cabinet, xbox (for the hubs...obviously), and now I'm in the market for a baker's rack!

    1. I've never purchased anything from Craig's list or FREE CYCLE either. I should make a list of items that I'm looking for and post it.

      Courtney..did you find a Baker's Rack? I'm looking for one that I can use on my outdoors patio in the summer time..Wrought iron preferably. I can always spray paint it to freshen it up. We used to own a pick up truck but sold it..that's kind of holding me back right now plus I think that item would be readily available in the Spring time..not when there's 14 in. of snow on the ground.

  4. What a great post, these are all very good tips, thanks for the info, I will definitely put it to good use!


  5. What a great post! I am an Ebay seller, but have been wanting to start on Craig's List!!
    Thank you for sharing these wonderful ideas!

  6. nice!! it helps a lot!! thanks for sharing!

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  7. Someday I will not fear Craigslist--you make me feel a little braver about it each time you write about all of the awesome love you have for C-List, but I just...can' I'm gonna keep practicing. ;) And I shouldn't have the fear--I mean seriously...look at your office. It's amazing and it makes me want to sit down and write a book in there.

    I have been working too much again, and I just got caught up with your blog--I checked out Kelly's blog too...can you believe she PAINTED that laundry room floor. Wow.

  8. Awesome tips. Have you ever tried CraigsEasy? I use it all the time. Anyway, just saw that you are going to be at Haven, me too! Can't wait to meet you in person! :)


  9. Thanks so much! I love reading people's tips about things I just have no clue about. Personally, I'm in the place of wanting to sell and your advice is helpful from that viewpoint, too. Things will sell faster if I make sure I spell things correctly! ;-)

  10. I've never shopped on Craigslist but I should. This looks like a great resource page for those who do (or for those who shop at other similar sites); I'm sharing it on my Facebook page, Treasures By Brenda.

  11. I thought I knew how to shop on Craigslist until I read your article. The ones on misspelling and using synonyms are the two I liked the best. Great job!

  12. These are some great ideas. Our son is going to grad school out of state and I'm looking into getting stuff on Craigslist in that state. I appreciate your time putting this together. I kept waiting for you to refer to your finds as tabels...

  13. I actually stopped narrowing down my searches on CL...because when I just left it to furniture under a certain many more things, that weren't even listed under my more specific search were there! I found a two drawer chest for $50 which i searched for specifically and couldn't find and ended up finding it under furniture, under $50.

  14. I have just this year started purchasing things from Craigslist. It took my hubby a little while to be convinced of my makeover magic abilities, but to date I have scored an awesome couch,loveseat,overstuffed chair living room set for $100 (I'm gradually making white slipcovers for them all) a dining room table with seating for 6 for $80, and a china cabinet for $50 (that is all primed now, but I'm still debating on whether I want it white or Ocean Tide :) ). I've also gotten lucky in family discovering my love of refinishing, and I've been given a recliner, a dresser, a desk, and a media cabinet. (Only the dresser and desk have beem refinished, but they're AWESOME!) I've adopted the philosophy that you should never settle for something (furniture-wise) that you don't like if you have the ability to make it better! Paint and new fabric make everything better!

  15. Oh, and I love your blog! I've gained soooo much inspiration from it!!!


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