I have not really been blogging lately. (A) I moved and am currently trying to fit an elephant in a shoebox. Which means that I moved from 3400 square ft, 4 bedroom 4 bath – to a 1300 square ft, tiny 3 bedroom 2 bath as well as a HUGE storage unit. And (B) my internet connection and wireless router have not been my friend lately, so computer access has been limited to my iPhone (I absolutely HATE computer problems.) (C) My art and creative energy have severely suffered in the last few months with all of this remodeling, purging, and selling a house – so my creative thoughts are sparse these days. But Alas – I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel: I was able to paint a little the other day, and the only stress I have left is just unpacking boxes – which I am in control of (unlike sellers and closings.) We finally closed on our house on Monday. I said goodbye to the ducks, the creek, and my naked neighbor and did not look back (a whole other long post.) We are very blessed. For some reason we decided to purchase a small beach cottage in October, remodel it, and then list the other house in January, and in this horrible economy still manage to come out more than OK. I poured three years of decorating, rearranging, new floors, paint, hardware, and furnishings into that house and it was nice to have all my hard work pay off. It looked like a model home. The house was listed in late January, we got an offer a month later, and then closed 6 weeks after that. That is almost unheard of in this market (unless it is a short sale or something.) People say it was due to my decorating expertise (my hobby) and special touches. Almost made me want to start a business staging houses……but I digress.
SO I mentioned I am downsizing. I sold off a TON of furniture: Two complete guest rooms with practically new furniture, an entire sitting room/formal living room, a dining room, a breakfast table and chairs, bar stools, lots of art and decorative accessories, dressers, chests, three desks, a grill, a few TV’s, rugs, a coffee table, and other various items that were just too large for the new house. I took a bunch of nice photos and placed them on a Flickr site. I offered first dibs to friends, then approached the masses.
I decided to try my hand at Craigslist. In the past, I had trolled around on Craigslist and finally purchased a vintage doctors cabinet, but never sold anything. For those of you that don’t know how to sell on Craigslist, there are a few tricks to the trade: (1) Know your market and price range. I know you love your fly rug and think it is worth $500 – but get real. You are not going to get $500 for it – even if you did purchase the rug for $1000 a few months ago. Just like in real estate, you have to put your emotions aside. Price it to sell. Research what you are selling, and then undercut your competition. Come to the terms of reality – there is not a good markup value in used furniture. (2) More people are prepared to come to your house with cash in hand on the weekend – so list your items close to the weekend, like Thursday or so. Serious Craiglisters constantly look at the new listings and you want yours to be at the top of the list when they are ready to buy. (3) Take some good photos, and list ALL details. It is amazing how little information people post on there. Some sellers seem so blase about really selling. Act professional and don’t make people ask questions. Sometimes they will be too lazy to. Also, you are going to waste your time if you don’t post a photo of the item you are selling. I even listed a mattress, and described it in great detail (size, brand, condition, etc) and people still wanted to see a photo for some reason. I mean seriously, it was a friggin mattress. As I mentioned, I took lots of photos and set them all up on a Flickr site. Then, whenever I listed something I also stated “Please visit my Flickr site to see other household items I have for sale…… (insert link here)” All that cross referencing can help sell even the most measly $10 item you don’t really even want to bother listing on Craigslist. (4) The people who buy things off of Craigslist are cheap, aggressive, hagglers and want to know they are getting a deal. So price your item accordingly, and add in a little wiggle room. That is a fact. They think they are going to a flea market, and act as if. Even if you only give them $5 off – they will think they got the “better price.” I was holding three pieces of furniture for a local person whom I had sold to before and said they were coming back to get them the following day. I made the mistake of not collecting payment from them right then and there and just believed them. (it worked out in my favor, but don’t ever believe anyone related to Craigslist – they lie). In the meanwhile I could have sold that furniture 3-4 times in the 24 hours I was waiting, and hoping this person would follow through. I made the mistake of letting one person know he could have the dresser if I had not heard from the previous customer by 7PM. He continued to badger me – letting me think he could come over right then and there and pay for it and take it off my hands. Begging me for my address and phone number. There were about 6-8 emails exchanged. I told him if he wanted to pay $50 more for it, he would be welcome to come get it right then and there – otherwise he would have to wait until 7PM. Needless to say his cheap ass did not bother me after that. (5) Most, if not all, of the people who buy things off of Craigslist are inconsiderate rat bastards or total flakes. For every item you list you might get 5-20 inquiries. But don’t get your hopes up – only a few will actually follow through. So unless they actually call you, don’t bother giving out your address and think they are coming. One night I had one person who made an appointment to come for a desk at 7PM, and another said they would come for a bench at 6PM. The person who said they would be there at 6PM never came or called (but emailed the next day, “Sorry….”) And the person was supposed to come at 7PM did not end up getting there until 10:30PM! I was furious! These self-absorbed people obviously do not value your time, and think you have nothing better to do than hang out at your house. Especially when you don’t really live at your house anymore and are without an internet connection or TV to buy time while you wait. I was in the middle of moving so I had my kitchen packed away and was waiting for these people well through dinner. They both had my phone number but I did not have theirs. So I felt trapped at my house and could not even leave to pick up food. Needless to say I was pissed – but I learned to be more aggressive toward these people in the future. You have to set boundaries. Tell them to “call before you come and make sure the item is still available, and see if I will actually be there.” I learned quickly that I am not going to wait around all day for Craigslist people.
These people are not your friends. They do not give a flying crap about you or whether or not you have eaten or are in the middle of dinner, work, or have to be somewhere. They do not know you. You are trying to make some money. It is a business deal in the most primal form. You have to decide what is ethical and what you will and won’t do (like selling an item out from under another person). Normally, I give people the benefit of the doubt – unless it is Craigslist related. Craigslist people (buyers) have no common decency.
So all that being said – I made several thousand dollars (which went toward a few pieces of new furniture that actually fit in my new home), learned not to take crap from anyone, learned to call bluffs, stretch the truth, and say no. Would I do it again, yes. Craigslist is an amazing thing, but you have to be prepared to work the offensive line when trying to sell something. Thank goodness I don’t have to approach selling my art this way – or do I?