Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Crazy about Craigslist

Sorry for the long overdue post! I have literally been a little bit crazy with buying and re-selling Craigslist finds these past few weeks and had no time to write a blog post (which is not nearly as fun as CL shopping so thus was procrastinated. Sorry). In less than a month I have made over $1000 taking advantage of Craigslist deals and turning them around for a profit. Read on for how to use this delightful site, as well as what items I have scored on...

I have ALWAYS loved Craigslist! I think someone told me about it some time in 2007 and I remember thinking right away, "Dang it! Why didn't I know about this in 2006 when we spent over $100 for the most basic, ugly crib from Babies R Us, and I could have had one that looked like it came from Pottery Barn for the same price or less?!" I was forever changed from that moment on and I have become somewhat of a Craigslist monster. Here is the definition of a Craigslist monster (let me know if you fit the description too):
     1.  You can spend hours perusing it & be in such a state of bliss that time flies by
     2.  You NEVER throw anything away. You either offer it for Free if it so awful or you sell it
     3.  You have a REALLY hard time buying anything at full it makes you somewhat sick
     4.  You end up re-selling something you bought years before for a profit so it is like you owning that item was paying you
     5.  You can't understand others not enjoying the glorious beauty of Craigslist

There are so many other qualities of a Craigslist monster, but those are some that are the obvious ones.

Since 2007 I have made thousands of dollars via Craigslist. We have bought most of our furniture from Craigslist, a car or two, most of our boys' toys, our decor, and as I look around my house I see all of the many items and can remember exactly what I paid for each item. Buying these items has saved us thousands, so with buying and selling we have made and saved so much money!!

I think most of you are very aware of how to use Craigslist, but in case you aren't here are a few sites that have great tutorials:

1. Here is one of my favorite overall tutorials because it teaches the basics from price minimums to maximum settings, as well as how to look at the listings in the most ideal way, and how to buy and sell (plus amazing tips I didn't even know yet):

2.  This blog has several tips from a "Craigslist Addict". I have tried and proven what she says to be true a countless number of times so rather than re-write what she already has, I figure we can learn from one of the experts: 

3.  These next two links are from another Craigslist pro that has created a great list of how-tos if you want to really maximize your Craigslist money making potential:

Overall it is very important to search frequently, and if there is a certain item you are looking for, the RSS feed, which was suggested in the first link, is magical. Also, if you are just wanting to find great deals keep reading...

Here is Item #1 that started the Madness 

This FREE entertainment center came from a very nice home in Parker, just 10 minutes from our home. The seller had posted this item as free, but in the Furniture section (not the Free) of Craigslist. He also had it listed among many other items he was charging money for. I scored because the Free items on CL go SOOOO fast it is hard to claim them. But because this wasn't listed there, I was given an extra hour or two to come across it, email him and thus get to get it. The key to getting picked as the "winner" of an awesome deal is to be dramatic. I prefer email, but if the seller puts their number for texting or calling, you should go their preferred route, especially since it will reach them more quickly (and time is very crucial when you are getting a steal of a deal). In this case email was his preference as well and I wrote him an email saying how much we would LOVE this entertainment center, and that we lived only minutes away and were ready to come and get it whenever he wanted. Use caps, use emotions, state your reason for NEEDING the item (cause on CL express needs even if they're really just wants), and state that you can get it ASAP. It doesn't always work, but these tactics often get you the deal.
The entertainment center could have been just turned around and re-sold, but the wood color was a little outdated and I wanted to have fun re-doing it. For $20 I re-did it (which the cost included making my own chalk paint). It would have been more costly if I didn't have the gel stain already and wax for over the paint, but since I did it was very cheap. It was, however, a major pain to re-do, and way too intricate for my liking. Three or more coats of paint in every little area was super annoying. But here is how it turned out:

I put it on Craigslist for $400 and ended up selling it for $300. That was a $280 profit. Not too shabby. Not sure if the amount of time was worth it, but I just worked on it while my boys rode their bikes and scooters in our front yard so everyone was happy.

Item Number 2

A very hideous Lane cedar chest was the next item. My neighbors had talked a lot about Lane cedar chests so that when I saw this one for $20 I figured it could be turned around for a profit fairly easily. I researched on Pinterest and came across this blog with the exact same chest:

She did an outstanding job and so I was even more encouraged to tackle this project, especially since others were selling this same re-done chest for around $300. 

Nathan was wonderful enough to drive and get it for me, and thankfully he did because it was in a shady area and he was honestly a little scared showing up to the apartment. The lady was nice though and had bought it as part of a storage wars type purchase. It had been left outside and so it had definitely seen better days. My neighbors and I got to work on it and sanded down bad areas, re-nailed others, took off the casters, put on feet, replaced the ugly wood board and re-upholstered over it, re-painted it, and oiled the cedar lining inside. All in all we spent $88 for the chest and supplies and this is what it turned out like:

Note: Lane is replacing all locks and keys free of charge if made between 1912 and 1987. For more information on how to check the date yours was manufactured, as well as contact information to get the free lock and key, click here.

I posted this on Craiglist as well as on Facebook for $300, and it was sold for $225 to a good friend of mine within a day. I had other higher offers but because I loved this piece so much, I wanted it to go to someone that I knew.

Item Number 3

This kind of became a funny story and was a learning experience for me. Above is a loveseat that was supposedly from Restoration Hardware. The ad said "Restoration Hardware Loveseat $50". It was in pristine shape, I could tell that the person's home it was in was upscale, and I thought, "WOO-WEE, RH! I better act fast so I can get this AMAZING deal and turn around and make a HUGE profit without any effort!" I was shocked that I was first in line and even hired a babysitter (unheard of for me because I am so cheap), so that I could get it during the day. It was a 30 min. drive, 15 minutes longer than I typically allow my CL shopping to take me, but it brought me to a beautiful, restored home not far from Denver. Stepping inside the man's home I was immediately enamored with his taste for decorating. So much color, styles, and yet they all went together beautifully. He took me to the loveseat and it looked perfect so I gave him the cash and we loaded it into my van. I drove home on such a tremendous high, I was giddy! Later that night I went to unload it from the car and one of the cushions came off. No "Restoration Hardware" label. I laughed. Boy was I fooled. After laughing I got a little mad. Was the guy trying to lie to me? I mean he had such nice stuff and seemed so nice that I thought it was probably an honest mistake. Most people would let it go, heck it was $50 for a super nice loveseat for crying out loud. But no, I am not most people. I wanted to know if he knew. So I texted him asking him if he did. He was nice enough to get back to me and said he was really sorry, that almost all of his furniture was from RH, or places like that, and he didn't know. I thanked him and then proceeded to try and sell it as something that is built better and looks like RH and Pottery Barn. I am still in the process of selling this, but at the same time enjoying the comfort of it in our family room. I have it priced a little high currently, and when I am more eager to get it out of my house I will post it at a better price.

Which brings me to a helpful tidbit about selling items. When selling items that don't seem to generate interest, don't always drop the price. Craigslist is all about dealing with random individuals looking at random times. Sometimes I will have an item that I feel is overpriced and I get a TON of people asking about (see bunkbed below), and other times I have it priced low and get no one. Other times it eventually gets just one person who is thrilled about their find. All you need is that one person to look, and thus you need to stay active and re-post or renew your items every week or less. This way your posting will come back to the top of the search list, and more people will see it that weren't looking when you first posted it. Also, sometimes if you raise the price you will get more interest. It is all about what someone thinks it is worth. Sometimes being pricier makes people want it more. There is probably some psychology in that, but who knows. The lesson is: be patient, have good pictures, give the specifics that are needed and only that, and experiment with pricing.

(Also, don't always be too excited about a deal that you don't do your research. If it is something for your home, make sure to ask if it is from a non-smoking home, or pet free if you have allergies. There are ways to deal with items that aren't, but make sure it is worth the price to you. Also, RH items sell well here in Denver, but not like they do for my sister who lives in Sacramento and has a husband who works in San Francisco. Buying from the RH outlet and re-selling it at a large markup has worked wonders for her with little to no effort. I find that doing that here would be less successful. So get to know your market and cater to it. Or if it is for you, make sure you check the item out before you load it in your car :) ).

Craigslist find #4

A few lessons to be taught with this bunkbed. First off, I found a CL listing that was posted at the middle to end of the day Saturday, no picture, and said "Bunkbed $25, come and get it" in essence. No bells, no whistles, no details. All I knew was that it was in a location approximately 10 min. away and it was practically free. I called the guy (the method he preferred) and found out it was being kept in a storage unit, was made of wood, was black (all questions I asked), and he thought all the hardware was there. I told him I would love to get it, and went there later that night when it was convenient for him. This too was a storage wars type of purchase, and he didn't want to bother with re-selling it. He helped load all the pieces in my van and I went home amazed that I got such a giant piece of furniture with such potential for only $25!

It had some random sticky stuff that obviously spilled down one side a long time ago, was very dirty, and the black was very faded. I sanded down the sticky area, which took some time, cleaned out every nook and cranny and then bought some nice primer + paint spray paint (gotta love Rustoleum). I put the bed together and sprayed a coat or two over problem areas and more generally over the whole bed. I then went to Home Depot and bought the boards to support the buyer's mattresses.

Not to sell this at the right price. This bed was made with SOLID wood! I have since come to find out that it was probably hand-made. It had brackets where the parts just fit together like a puzzle, which made the constructing of it super fast and easy. It wasn't in perfect shape though, and it seemed that most bunkbeds were on CL for $200, many including two mattresses. However, this was solid wood, I liked the style of it better than most, had a full on the bottom, and I figured I would try higher and see what happened.

I posted the bed online on a Saturday afternoon, thinking I probably missed the peak buyer's time. I was wrong. I started getting texts and emails like crazy. Since I don't buy or sell things on Sunday, and we were gone most of Saturday evening, I had to accrue interested people for Monday morning. I promised someone they could have it because I could tell they really wanted it (texted, emailed, and called me and left 3 phone numbers to reach them). They said they would come first thing Monday morning. I then had 3 others, knowing they weren't first in line, offer me $400 as well as $350. I couldn't believe the amount of interest! Anyway, I stuck with the  person I promised it to, they came and got it, and I made $300 - $25 for bed - $22 for paint and wood supports = $253 profit for approximately a day of work (week turnaround time from purchase to sale date).

Lessons learned: When people do not have a picture on their listing, and a low price, (or something that has been listed for a long time) take advantage of it. People are afraid of non-pictured postings. I once bought a Pottery Barn couch and loveseat for $50 that they delivered to me because they had no picture and no one had asked them about it for the whole month it was listed. I resold them for $100 because they were quite stained, but still a profit nonetheless.

Also, I learned that you should ALWAYS "stage" your pieces. It was tempting to take a picture of the pieces of the bunkbed in our garage and post that. It would have saved us over an hour of moving it into our family room, putting it together, and taking pictures. However people will pay way more if it looks like it is in a nice surrounding. If I had had mattresses, comforters, in a bedroom, etc. I think I could have priced it way higher.

Another lesson: Keep in mind your end selling price and only put in the appropriate amount of time and money for supplies as warranted. I had the idea of selling this for $200 ultimately. I was thinking about staining the bed to match what looked like was done on it originally. However thinking about how much time and headache that would be, I opted for the spray paint route since that can look equally as nice and about the same cost. I also was about to buy bunkie boards, or large pieces of plywood, but that was twice as expensive as buying the separate support boards (which Home Depot cut to size for me). 

Lastly, buy items that people are looking for. Buying unpopular items like a standalone end table, or a loveseat by itself (yeah, I did that, but it was from Restoration Hardware, right?! :) ), are harder to sell.

 Item #5

This is the last item I got, and it is only fitting since the first item I got, the entertainment center, was on July 1st, and this one I got the last week of July. I find that perusing Craigslist in the evening or first thing in the morning (especially early in the week) is when you can catch the most deals. I like to search under "Furniture" since there is a lot of postings under the category, and there is a lot of great low prices for nice pieces. I had pinned some ideas on Pinterest awhile back about armoire re-dos and making them fun work stations. Since people often don't have TVs that fit in armoires anymore, there are a lot of these pieces for free, or for very cheap. One search that I like to run periodically is typing in my town's name and the word moving: "Parker moving". This will bring up all listings that have these two words in their posting, and since I don't want to drive far, and I want to take advantage of people moving and thus motivated to sell, its the perfect search group I am looking for.

This armoire's posting came up and was listed for sale for $75. The pictures were dark, there was a big mess of stuff around the armoire in the picture, and so no one had bought it yet. I emailed the seller and said that I hoped she would be able to sell it for a profit, but in case she couldn't and just wanted it moved for her, that we would really love to have it for free. These things are HUGE and HEAVY and I figured, "I don't have to have it" and "it doesn't hurt to ask". She called me shortly thereafter and said that she had already moved, it was on her front sidewalk and that it was mine if I wanted it. She said "Take off the 'For Sale' sign, and get two guys to help load it". It was only 7 minutes from our home so I went and got the bottom piece, wrapped the rest in a tarp, put a SOLD sign on it, and that night Nathan and some friends of ours picked the top portion up.

This piece is in pristine condition, and is made for a computer, not a TV, the kind I had been looking for! I wanted a compact office/homework station, and so I prepped it for some minor touch ups and some fun improvements. I will then stage it and re-sell it. (I kind of want to keep it to be honest, especially considering what I am going to do with it).

Lessons: 1. Search for ads in which people are moving.   2. Consider what distance you are willing to travel. I find that my favorite deals are less than 20 minutes away.  3. Don't be rushed, look, look, look, and you will find what you are looking for at the right's amazing, and I will write another post on the Law of Attraction, (my mantra).  4. Be really nice to the sellers, and don't worry about asking for something to be lowered, or for free, you will be surprised how often it pays off. 5. When blessed with a great gift, pay it forward.

So that is my July in a nutshell. I have loved having my two older boys home for the Summer. We are having fun being laid back. I still am able to be a mom during all of this. I look for ads while I am eating breakfast or when they are in bed. I do my re-dos when the two little ones are napping and the two older ones are doing quiet time, or when we all want to play in the front yard. We are still able to somewhat keep the house clean (although the bathrooms and dusting have become a major casualty to my projects), the boys are still able to have learning time, and we are still able to do fun adventures. I find that I need something to be working on to keep me happy and motivated. Last month it was pallet projects, this month it was Craigslist finds. I think moving forward it will be a combination of both, or maybe something entirely different.

In the end, it has nearly been a decade of me loving Craigslist. Thank you to the creators of it, you have blessed my life with the wonderful creation it is, as well as countless others have been blessed too.

So what items do you have laying around that you can make moolah on? Are you a Craigslist addict like me? Please share your best finds (and worst) and share any tips or tricks you have too!


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