Navigating Craigslist

by Jessie K on December 6, 2013

I’ve been looking at Craigslist a lot lately because that is what you do when you’re overdue with your second baby and fantasize all day long about decorating your new place.

This area doesn’t have a super heated vintage/thrift culture (except maybe if you’re looking for Civil War-era artifacts like spittoons and bed pans and weird hunting display cases for $1), unlike, say, in places like L.A. or Nashville or Portland. Which is good because it means you can find the occasional gem for a fraction of what you’d pay in trendier areas, but the downside is that you have to wade through eight times more crap that sellers, either out of ignorance or delusion, try to pass off as “unbeatable steals,” like a beat up laminate computer desk they probably picked up on clearance for $25 at Staples and are now trying to unload on CL for $225. It’s crazy the amount of garbage you have to sift through while muttering at your screen, “Seriously? You seriously think you’re going to get $200 for a used Ikea coffee table? Yeah, good luck with that, buddy.”

00L0L_d1Ltbms1CgQ_600x450Above is an item I spotted the other day. The seller advertised it as an “exercise pen” for dogs for $30. Yeah, that’s some exercise that dog’s going to get confined to that miserable cell. These are the same kind of people who call euthanasia “peaceful slumber.”

I’m still somewhat new to the whole Craigslist scene — I’m more of a troller than an actual shopper — but I have seen a few really cool  pieces I would love to have for my new home.

The other day I came across a listing for two really cool midcentury lamps and side tables that looked in decent condition for $10 each, or best offer. (Try finding THAT in Nashville!) The seller posted a single photograph of all four items from about 7 feet away. Half the lamps were cut off. The image was blurry. (I would link to the posting but I don’t want to propagate bad juju so imagine with me, will you?) The write up of the items offered no information beyond what was blatantly obvious: “2 lamps, 2 side tables, $10 each, or best offer.” The seller was located an hour away.

So I write the seller and ask if they wouldn’t mind sending a few additional close up images so I can get a sense of the items’ general condition. She writes me back and tells me okay, but she won’t be able to do it until 6 or 7 the following evening. I say fine, whenever, and can you please provide measurements — how tall are the lamps? What are the dimensions of the side tables? I tell her I’m located an hour away so I want to be sure the pieces will work with my space before I make the drive. I don’t bother to tell her that I’m also explosively pregnant.

A day passes and she writes me back:

We believe, based on the number of questions that you had in your last e-mail that it would be best for you to send us a contact number so that we can set an appointment for you to see the two lamps and two end tables in person.
If this is not an acceptable option for you then we will consider your e-mails and questions to be spam and delete any further msgs. and report them as spam.
Thank you in advance.
I love it: “An appointment.” How dignified and official. Like I’m going to set up “an appointment” to drive an hour to go look at a pair of end tables that are probably riddled with bullet holes that I can’t make out because her single shoddy photograph was so terrible. And since when did asking basic questions about the general condition of used items become correlated with spam?
I was floored. Clearly, I was dealing with someone new to the Information Superhighway and definitely new to the concept of basic commerce, the buying and selling of basic goods. I am consistently dismayed by the level of hostility people casually include in the most benign of emails. As you can imagine, my interest in these items cooled accordingly. No midcentury end tables for me. This time.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Cyn December 6, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Seriously?? It’s just common sense when selling on CL or ebay to list measurements, colors, make, model, brand, etc…along with a CLEAR picture if you want to sell the item. Hope baby arrives soon!


Bob F December 6, 2013 at 1:06 pm

“explosively pregnant”

Jessie, that is precious! I’m still laughing – sure wish I had your imagination and gift of writing! You can’t imagine the images that conjures up – lol – well, maybe you can!

Take care and we are all waiting for The Announcement.


Cindy December 6, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Hostility seems to be “IN” these days.


Kim December 6, 2013 at 1:29 pm

FWIW, the canine exercise pen is an item used by people who participate/compete with their dogs at various events – conformation, obedience trials, agility competitions, etc. The pen is a place for the dog to hang out (outdoors or inside a venue) during downtime, as opposed to being locked in a crate or kept in the car.

(People get to show off their dogs that way too – people mill around and visit with/admire each others dogs.)


Brenda December 6, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Never been on CL and now it may be years before I ever do. Love reading your adventures. Looking forward to the announcement, too.


Olga December 6, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Yep that sounds familiar! I sell tons on CL, but I rarely buy because of issues you identify. It’s just not worth the time. However, you can sell almost everything if you are polite and take photos and measurements in put them in the post.


Penny December 6, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Bob’s right Jessie! Love that gift of expression. Best blessings this weekend.


GinnyN December 6, 2013 at 4:33 pm
Janelle December 6, 2013 at 7:26 pm

I’ve done a lot of buying and selling on Craigslist since I moved to our small farm and had to furnish a house 3x the size of our two-bedroom. Someone like the one you just mentioned isn’t worth it. Besides, an hour drive is WAY too far to drive for something you’re not sure of anyway, explosively pregnant or not.
Here’s just one of my Craigslist encounters:
I was selling a lot of my son’s old toddler DVDs. $10 for 7, and a guy wanting to buy them emailed me that he wanted to come into my house and make sure they all worked. I told him no. I would have no stranger in my house. He chastised me that I should allow him to try them out. I said no and promised him they all worked. “If you want a guarantee, go buy them new.” He cursed me off. That was the end of that. Someone else bought them.
And the stories go on…


Jessie K December 8, 2013 at 12:56 pm

That is hilarious!


sarina December 7, 2013 at 4:37 pm

i do sell and buy on cl. what i hate is people always want to pay less than your dair asking price. we just sold a truck…had it listed at 3k…then lowered it to 2500. then i relisted it back to 3k and it sold the next day for 2500….kbb value was 3200-3800 without the aluminum work cap…..i dont mind answering reasonable questions…and yours were reasonable


Shelby at Fresh Eggs Farm December 8, 2013 at 9:02 am

Hmmmmm.. youve been quiet, hoping to see a “she’s here” post soon!!


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