Friday, February 02, 2007

This Deal Won't Be Around Long!

When it comes to material possessions, for the past year I've let one principle be my guide: Never own more things that cannot be packed into the back of my Mini Cooper in more than 20 minutes.

That philosophy has served me well these past 12 months, but now that Richard and I are getting a bigger place, filling it with a mattress, some clothes, and a box of old comic books simply isn't going to cut it. I like minimalist, but not that minimal. We need actual furniture. We'll soon be taking a trip back to DC to grab some of the things I left behind, but in general we are starting from scratch.

And like any other couple looking to acquire some furniture on the fast and cheap, we've turned to Craigslist. Let me just say from the get-go that we are fully aware of what we're getting into: buying furniture from Craigslist can be a risky affair. There's often a reason why that shag carpet is for sale
(and it ain't because the owner loves it so much they want others to share in their joy). However, you can get lucky and nab something good -- sometimes you just have to look through a lot of crap to get it; there are pearls to be mined, often you just need to sort through some clams.

I know that everyone has got a Craigslist story. Spend any amount of time on the site and you'll quickly form your own opinions about how good or bad it is. But as I've been scouring the site's furniture listings over the past week I've come up with some
(possibly angry) observations that I'd like to share for those of you who are considering selling stuff on Craigslist. Do us potential buyers a favor and keep these things in mind before you post:

  1. From what I can tell, "modern" to most posters is defined as anything built after the Civil War. Sorry, but just because it was built sometime during the 20th Century does not automatically make it "modern" so please stop using that term for your crappy Palace of Versailles chair. It's not -- not by a longshot.
  2. Apparently "modern" is also code for "piece of shit."
  3. Other code words for "piece of shit" -- "unique" "artistic" "adorable" and "IKEA."
  4. Speaking of IKEA, you've got some balls selling your IKEA shit for the price you're asking. Fresh-off-the-shelf IKEA is already pushing the limits of quality. But used IKEA furniture is just plain wrong. A good price for your used IKEA Poang chair? How about Free.
  5. More power to you if you think someone will actually give you money for this. Or this. Or this. Or these. Seriously Buena Suerte.
  6. Would it kill you to post a photo of your "beautiful antique Persian rug"? Nobody is going to drive over to view it without seeing a photo first.
  7. And if you do with to take a photo and post it, try using the flash or maybe turning on a light so that I can actually see what your kitchen set looks like. I don't care that it sits in the basement. A little light would be nice.
  8. I honestly believe that every single puffy leather(y) couch (you know the ones - they look like giant half-chewed pieces of salt water taffy) ever manufactured is available today on Craigslist. Every single one. In every color.
  9. Three years ago you bought a dining room set for $1,400. Congratulations. Don't try and sell it today on Craigslist for $1,100. This is Craigslist - home of the cheap. If I wanted to spend $1K on a dining room set, I'd just buy a new one.
  10. Nothing screams "I can't sell my furniture!" louder than the phrase "This deal won't be around long!" -- Uumm, yeah. Yeah it will. It's ugly.
  11. Do people really buy used mattresses off Craigslist? Really? Isn't that a bit like buying used underwear from Craigslist?
  12. For Pete's sake, please at least pretend to be literate and proofread your ad before you post. To the enterprising guy who can assist if I need help "muving" my furniture: Even if I did, I'd probably go with someone who could at least spell at a third grade level. Sorry, but that's how I roll.
  13. To about 25% of the posters out there: Please, please, please stop throwing around terms like "mid-century modern" and "Eames era" -- you clearly don't know what those phrases mean. They're not buzzwords for "I think my stuff looks cool and you should buy it." Charles and Ray would be turning in their graves if they saw that piece-of-shit brass and marble console table you're selling.
  14. Speaking of brass: If you're selling it, here's a tip: Determine what you think you could sell it for, and then immediately slash the price by about 75% from that. Because that's how much you'll probably get for it.
  15. POSTING YOUR AD IN ALL CAPS IS NOT GOING TO MAKE ME BUY IT ANY FASTER. Learn some basic Web etiquette, douchebag.
  16. Save the backstories for your family or friends who give a shit. I don't know your grandmother and don't care that she brought it over with her from Poland, nor do I care about your loving relationship with her. Keep it simple and tell me how much you want for it.
  17. Believe it or not, "platform" is an actual style of bed with specific characteristics. It is not simply defined as "anything that keeps the mattress off the floor." So your four poster bed is not a platform. Neither is your princess canopy. Or your leather headboard bed. Educate yourself on what it is, and stop throwing the term around to describe yours.
  18. If it is indeed the "Coolest Dining Table in the World" like you advertise it is, then why didn't it sell two weeks ago the first time you posted it? Not looking so cool to me now.
  19. While I appreciate that you need to unload your baker's rack ASAP, posting it and then re-posting it every 30 minutes just makes you an asshole.
  20. There's a fine line between "antique Asian" and "Wickes' going-out-of-business."


5 of 9er said...

I don't have a Craiglist story... none. I am so not cool. Bummer. :(

K.I.D. said...

You've put some SERIOUS thought into this post! Furniture's a bitch...although my friend did find a great couch on Craig's list. Good luck!

Katie in the UK said...

When I moved to London I sold all my Ikea bedroom furniture on Craigslist. I offered it for 1/2 of what I paid for it and people got into bidding wars. It was a bit ridiculous.

I also sold my bike on Craigslist. The lady test drove it, then left to get my asking price out of the cash machine. When she returned (having got my asking price out of the cash machine and holding the amount in her hand) she said, "Oh I meant to ask you, would you consider a lower price?"

My answer, shockingly, was NO.

classyandfancy said...

Don't be rippin' on my abstract paintings! It took me about 10 minutes to make those puppies and they will go well with any country modern victorian decor.

NAME: Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

I agree with K.I.D.! That was an extensive list! Big ups to you for being a long-winded, but insightful, man after my own heart.

C.R. III said...

Craigslist buyers aren't exactly the pick of the litter, either, though. I was selling my sister's jeep for $2800, which was WAY below book. Not even 3 minutes after I posted it, I got a two-word e-mail "1000 cash" (no punctuation). First, it's an insulting offer. Second, I don't take VISA, jerkass! Did he think there was a cash discount or something?

Anyway, good advice about CL posting. And in regards to the shag rug, they're most likely selling it due to TOO MUCH love (on) said rug. Stay away.

kb said...

any post starting with "First of all, these are much nicer in person." (as in your 4th link) is bound to disappoint.

Taylor said...

brilliant. yep, as with everything else in life, you get a bunch of cracked out morons in the mix of whatever you're looking at/doing/etc.

the no picture ads kill me. seriously, in this day and age, there is zero excuse for not posting a picture. if you have a PC (or access to one), you can post a pic regardless if you have a ditigal camera.

and the backstories also piss me off. i don't care that grandma worse that down the ailse.

Angel City's Devil said...

HA! Brilliant writing :)

check out mine, I hope you like.