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November 13, 2014

10 Secrets for Buying The Best Furniture on Craigslist

Over the past four years, I've spent a lot of time buying and selling our stuff on Craigslist. It's a great way to find stylish decor on a budget, and if you're anything like me (a crazy person who rearranges things once a month), Craigslist becomes a great way to keep your budget intact by selling off the old stuff you no longer want. 
So, today I thought I would share some of my Craigslist shopping tips with you guys.
Plus, it's just fun to look at Craigslist finds together.
Ulterior motive revealed. 

So, here we Craigslist shopping secrets:

1. Be patient.
I know it's tough, but if you want to excel in the art of Craigslisting, you're going to have to conquer this one. 
 It usually takes me several weeks of frequent searching to find exactly what I'm looking for. And in my experience, the the more specific an item, the longer the search. For example, if I'm just looking for a nice shaped dresser under $100, I can usually find a few good candidates within a week. If I'm looking for a brass trunk to use as a coffee table, it may take me months. 
I've found two brass trunks so far after a month of searching. Neither one ended up working out, but I consider them hard evidence that great stuff exists on Craigslist.

This big one was exactly what I was looking for, but it wasn't in great condition and the price was too high. For my little wallet.
He's feeble and shivers often.

This little guy was pretty awesome, and would have made a great end table, but I was in the coffee table market and unwilling to settle.

2.  Use search tricks. 
If you want the best chance of finding the great stuff before anyone else does, it helps to know how to maximize your search results. One of the ways I do this is by using different word combinations. For example, if you're looking for a Persian rug, try searching for 'persian rug', 'wool rug', 'hand knotted rug', 'antique rug', 'red rug', etc. I've come across two great ones in just a couple weeks by using those terms. 
I'm looking for a small colorful persian rug for the downstairs bathroom. These are two of my favorite finds so far, but I'm still on the hunt for the perfect size.

3. Use gallery view.
You have to look through a lot of duds to find the gems on Craigslist, and the quickest and easiest way is by using gallery view. Just click on the tab in the upper lefthand corner, and you'll be able to see the thumbnails for each listing all at once. That way you'll know what each item looks like before you ever click through to the actual listing. 
It's a total timesaver.

4. Search for 'Furniture By Owner'
Items on Craigslist are separated into two categories: 'by owner' and 'by dealer'. When it comes to searching for home decor on Craigslist, click on the 'by owner' tab in the upper lefthand corner before starting your search, because that's where you're gonna find the real deals. 
Basically, the 'by owner' section is where Rhonda is going to be selling that gorgeous lamp/rug/table/chair that she just HAS TO GET RID OF NOW!
We won't judge her for her reasons.
Do what ya gotta do, girl.

Also, can we talk about the 'retro whiskey barrel chairs' below? 
I just need to share this moment with another human.

5. The $2 trick.
There are tons of spammers and service posts mixed in with the normal posts and they're usually listed for $1. The easiest way to remove these from your search results is to enter in a minimum price of $2. That filters out all of the junk.

6. Search in nearby cities. 
I usually extend my searches (if I can't find anything locally) to nearby areas. If an area is within a hour drive, and the items is one of a kind, I'm often willing to make the trip. Plus, this is great for smaller items, as you can often convince an eager seller to ship the item to you if you pay extra for shipping.

I've been looking for some ginger jars to turn into lamps, or just ginger jar shaped lamps, and these aren't exactly easy to come by. By extending my search to nearby areas, I found quite a few neat items.

I love the orange (That's so very alma-mater-ey of me.), and at $20, it's a steal.

These white ones would be gorgeous in just about any room. I kinda really, really love them.
You could even turn them into brushstroke lamps.

 And this little fella would be just adorable on a bookshelf or nightstand. Or really anywhere.

7. Don't be afraid to haggle. 

There might come a day when you come across the perfect bear coffee table. And you might think the $75 price tag is a little too pricey 
(I mean, where's the glass top?!). 
Don't be afraid to haggle. It's expected. I usually start out with an offer that's 25-30% below the asking price and see where it goes from there.
But seriously...I just want to set my coffee mug on a bear paw.
I ask so little from this life.

***I should specify that I'm kidding, as Jesse read this post last night and was genuinely excited that I might bring home a grizzly bear.
Not happening.***

8. Know how to get the seller to respond. 
I discovered this little secret through selling tons of my own stuff through the years. Whenever multiple people would email me about an item, I would always choose to deal with the person who sounded the most intent on buying my item...and the most normal.

So, now, when I'm attempting to buy an item, I always email a seller with something like, 'Hello! I'm really interested in this item and would like to pick it up ASAP. I can pay cash today if you're available. Thanks so much!'.

9 times out of 10 this will get a response. So, basically if you're polite, able to form a coherent sentence in an email, and sound really intent on purchasing the item ASAP, you're probably going to be the one that gets the item if multiple people are inquiring about it.

9. Meet the seller in public. 
If it's an item that can be easily transported, I always ask to meet the person in a grocery store parking lot during the day. It's safe, and that way you don't have to go into anyone's home or feel uncomfortable. And before I go to meet someone, I always forward the email to Jesse, letting him know all of the seller's info and the time/location we're meeting. If it's a big item, I make Jesse go with me.
This isn't really a 'secret', but I consider it a hot tip because, well, who wants to get in a pickle over a Craigslist purchase.
Not this guy.

10. Know what to look for.
 You can find just about anything on Craigslist, but some things are easier to find than others. When it comes to using Craigslist for my home decor, I tend to stick to items that can be easily repurposed and/or cleaned. 
For example, dressers are really easy to find on Craigslist. Sometimes, they can be really overpriced, but if you search frequently enough, you're bound to find a bargain. 
I found my bedroom dresser on Craigslist for $50 several years ago.

Here's a similar dresser I found just today while searching Craigslist.

Another item to look for is a unique mirror. I come across all sorts of interesting old mirrors on Craigslist, and most of them are way cooler than anything you'd find in a store.

You can also find all sorts of weird old brass stuff that seems to be trendy once again.
Who saw granny's pineapple making a comeback?!

I also have great luck in finding unique little end tables, like this brass and marble one for $40.
Please also note the sassy wig in the background. 

It's also easy to find great old chairs on Craigslist, like this pretty little Bergere chair. You'll want to reupholster most of the chairs you find, but if you can score one for under $50, it's a total bargain.
I would reupholster this one in a bold floral or stripe. And if you're worried about the hassle or reupholstering, I assure you that it's not as hard as you think. I've reupholstered more than 10 chairs (You can see them here.), and I have absolutely NO reason to know what I'm doing. 
Don't be scared of giving it a go. 
You can do it, girl.

So, that's all for today ya'll. I hope you feel a little less intimidated by Craigslist and inspired to get your search on. If you're already a Craigslist pro and have any tips I might enjoy, or if you've ever found something that totally blew your mind, show me, show me, show me. I love nothing more than when you guys email me with pictures of your own projects. 

'Til next time!


10 secrets for buying the best furniture on Craigslist! Tip #5 is GENIUS!

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  1. I've dabbled a fair share with both buying and selling on Craigslist, and your advice is so great and helpful! You are a Craigslist Queen! Sending thanks from one of your male readers! (I go "HEY!" every time you address your readers as "Girl" or "Ladies," ha :-P)

    1. Hi Anthony! Thank you!!! I'm SO delighted to find out that I have a male reader! You are officially the first guy to leave a comment on my blog, so that's just awesome. Maybe next time I'll say 'Girls and Anthony'. Ha!! :)

  2. Great tips! It was so fun seeing the little marble and brass end table - I inherited a matching pair from my grandparents that look identical, and have always loved them.

  3. The $2 trick alone was worth the read!! And the gallery view has to be one of my favorite discoveries. No more clicking thumbnails! As a side note, as a seller on craigslist, I always add to the bottom of my ad "Politeness counts." You'd be amazed at how much nicer the responses are! (I've even had the buyers comment on that part and ask if they could steal the idea for themselves!)

    1. Thanks so much Lindsay! Politeness definitely counts!! Great tip! :)

  4. I don't know how you do it. Your posts are so long and I read every word in it. Thankyou

    1. Aw, thank you, Esmee. I know no other way...I'm just wordy! Ha! :)

  5. These are awesome tips! I especially like the $2 search tip....I hate all the spammer posts!

  6. Now that was an excellent blog post. Read the whole thing. Great tips!!

  7. The part about being patient really helped. I've taken a gander on CL a few times and I feel bummed out right away because I don't see anything remotely like what you found (ie that fabulous dresser you got for $50).

    I got a kick out of that bear table - because I actually have something really similar - a panther coffee table with the glass going across his back. I bought that bad boy NEW about 17 years ago! It's been in the corner of my Elvis room (yes, I have an Elvis room - also known as the dining room) since I bought my house 11.5 years ago. I've been wanting to pare down my stuff so I might try selling him.

  8. Hi from Wellington, New Zealand. I LOVE your blog, you seem like such a fun friendly chick and your house is beautiful. Such inspiration! :-) From Lydia

  9. I just love seeing your tips and tricks :) Your bedroom dresser is beautiful! You are such an inspiration. I can't wait to be able to start working on all my furniture that needs to get redone! xo Liz

  10. those white lamps are so pretty and would be perfect for my bedroom, sigh.
    i love your bedroom dresser, so mention away!
    one of my favourite things to do is just browse craigslist. might go do it right now..

  11. Great tips, thanks for sharing! I never seem to have any luck finding things on Craigslist in my area. I will definitely try out some of your tips.

  12. Love it! I totally did the same thing for the last 2 houses I furnished. I rearrange just as often as you do and for my last 2 homes I've picked up so many great finds from reseller websites like Craigs List. It's awesome! I've also sold almost as much as I bought but it's insane the money I've saved on things that would have otherwise cost me a fortune or worst wouldn't have been able to find them lol..Thanks for this :)

  13. Such a fun tour and I'm always so honored to be invited!

    John Stolle


Thanks so much for leaving a comment!! I do the hammer dance every time I read one.

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