If you missed part one of this little mini-series, check it out here:
Finding Gems on Craigslist: Part One: The Search
Yesterday, I covered tips for searching and finding the hidden gems among the junk. Today, I’ll cover the tips on sealing the deal. For the really coveted items or great deals, it can become a competitive back and forth between buyers and sellers. Here are a few of my favorite tips for securing your find and getting a good deal.
Sealing the deal:
- Act fast: if you see something you want, get in contact with the seller right away. Competitively priced items (and especially free items) tend to go very quickly, so write them a quick email or text and let them know you’re interested.
- Offer cash and a quick pick up: One of the biggest pains for sellers (I know from enough Craigslist selling experience) is the flaky, non-committal buyers. It’s fine to ask questions or for more photos, measurements, etc. but don’t go back and forth forever and waste the seller’s time. This sounds dumb and ridiculous, but SHOW UP. I’ve encountered far too many people who commit to buying and schedule a time to pick up and then never show or give notice that they changed their mind, etc. If you find something you really love, get in contact with the seller quickly, offer cash and same day or next day pick up. The seller will be far more motivated to choose you over someone who is unsure and wants to pick up in a week.
- Be polite: In the same vein as the tips below, be polite and gracious, no one wants to sell to a jerk.
- Negotiate: Do your research and try to figure out what the item is worth or what is a fair price, compared to new retail price, etc. Sometimes I’ll offer full price if it’s reasonable, sometimes I’ll ask slightly less, and if I feel it’s really not worth what they’re asking, I’ll send a low offer. Also, establish a final price before pick up. Don’t negotiate once you get there. Another tip to look out for is when the listing was first added to Craigslist (little button screen shot below). If you notice that it’s been up for a week or more, offer lower than the asking price. If it’s been up for awhile, the seller will likely want to move it out quickly and won’t be as set on the price if no one else has made an offer.
I’ll leave you with a coincidental perfect example that just happened last night… I noticed a great rattan outdoor side table in the free section of craigslist just before leaving work and it had only been live for 30 minutes. I emailed the seller right away and told her that I could pick it up in a couple hours. It was still available and I went and nabbed it last night! It’s in excellent condition, just needed a light cleaning, and will be perfect for my future balcony.
After finding a mid-century credenza, a bentwood inspired chair and a patio set, (and more pieces currently pending that you’ll hear about soon…) I’d like to think my Craigslist skills have improved quite a bit. So I’m sharing some of my favorite tips and tricks today. Hope you find these helpful.
- Be specific: especially if you’re looking for a certain design, brand, etc. Though it’s also beneficial to do a more general search as well (see below)
- Be vague: oftentimes, what I would consider to be a ‘vintage bentwood chair’ or a ‘mid-century tulip table’ is just a ‘chair’ or ‘table’ to sellers. They might not know or care about the specifics, so be sure to search under a broad range of terms. This will take longer and there’s a lot more junk to sift through, but if you find a great piece for a steal, it will be worth it. Many sellers often misspell items and that can be a hindrance on your search results, example below:
- Be vigilant: when you least expect it, the credenza of your dreams could pop up on Craigslist, so refresh the listings every couple of hours if you have the chance, and set up alerts for specific searches to go straight to your inbox (below)
- Set up alerts: using both specific and vague search terms, set up a couple email alerts. You’ll get an email digest with all of the most recent postings and this is a time-saving way of finding new deals without constantly refreshing the page:
- Spring and Summer: this is a natural time when people are cleaning out their homes or apartments, purging before a move, etc. so there’s generally more inventory in the spring and summertime
- Monday and Friday: the same can be said about Mondays and Fridays, in my experience. On Fridays, people are usually wanting buyers to come pick up items over the weekend and are likelier to post later in the week and if sellers have been cleaning out their homes over the weekend, they’ll usually post on Sunday evening/Monday morning. Be sure to check on Friday afternoons and Monday mornings for an influx of postings
- Modify your settings: check the box for pictures, gallery view, owner only:
- Know where to look: most furniture pieces are in fact under the furniture section, but be sure to check others as well. Sometimes an accent chair can show up in ‘household’, etc: My favorites are: furniture//antique// household//free
- View more option: if you’re looking at a listing that you like, check to see if the little ‘more ads by this user’ button is on the page. They might have similar items that you want to purchase and might not have otherwise noticed:
- Don’t give up: finding some of these items, mainly my credenza, took months so it can get frustrating and discouraging. But that’s usually right when you find something… so keep searching and it will likely turn up eventually
Tomorrow I’ll be back with part two: sealing the deal.
Bamboo, rattan and similar wood style chairs are really big right now in the design world. I recently found two chairs of similar styles with vastly different price points. Check out the look for less below.
1. Pottery Barn Cannes Woven Rattan Chair, $329
2. Ikea Nipprig 2015 Chair, Natural, $49
Check out more Look for Less posts here.
While in search of round, mid-century inspired dining tables for my new dining area plan, I came across two gorgeous options. Of course, the perfect table from West Elm has all three of my favorite elements: marble, wood and brass…. but it comes with a big price tag. Unless they decide to send one my way or have a random 50% off sale, (West Elm, are you listening?) this table won’t be making its way into my apartment anytime soon. I did find a very similar alternative for less than half the price on Overstock so I thought it would make a good look for less feature! Check out both below.
1. Reeve Mid-Century Dining Table, $1199, West Elm
2. Canvas White Wood Dining Table, $496.99, Overstock
I’ve been a bit obsessed with bentwood style chairs lately and while researching for affordable options, I found two identical chairs at very different price points.
1. Vienna Dining Chair, Crate and Barrel, $109 each
2. Cafe Dining Chair, Target, $129.99 for two chairs
So if you were to get a minimum of four chairs for a dining table on the small side, it would be a total of $436 at Crate and Barrel and $259.98 at Target. Can’t go wrong with that deal. I love this look so much that I almost want to sell my current dining table and chairs and swap it out for a white tulip table paired with the black cafe chairs… More on that later.
The last in the Style on a Budget series is live on the DC Ladies site today! I’m wrapping up this series but will be launching a new one very soon! I’ve pulled together a ton of throw pillows, all under $50, and grouped them into different styles. Check out the full post and where to shop here.
It’s been awhile since my last Look for Less post, so I figured I would share a recent discovery (that’s also a great deal and an item on my wishlist). These gilt inspired full length mirrors work well in any space and are an easy way to add style and depth. Especially beneficial for small-space dwellers, mirrors are the perfect way to trick the eye into making any space feel much larger and more elegant. See a great example of this in Holly’s London studio apartment tour.
1. Champagne Gilt Floor Mirror, Pottery Barn, $499
2. Songe Mirror, Ikea, $99.99