Helpful Tips for Buying on Craigslist

Posted On Monday, February 17th, 2014
Filed Under: Deals & Steals, How To, shopping

How to Shop on Craigslist

As much as I love thrifting, I’m not always up for the process of it all.  Some days I don’t feel like digging through stuff for hours or driving across town to check out my favorite store’s new inventory. Thank God for sites like Craigslist. Over the years, I’ve alternated between buyer and seller and have learned a lot from both roles.

Here are some tips that may help the next time you’re in search of a secondhand treasure, but don’t feel like leaving the comfort of your home.

Only Consider Items with Real Pictures
Buying secondhand items online is a gamble because you never really know the condition of something until you receive it.  That’s why it’s best to only consider items that include clear photos.  Also, the more angles you can see, the better. The front of an item might be in good condition, but there could be significant damage to the other sides.

What Not to Buy on Craigslist, Craigslist Shopping Tips

Take this stroller for example. Instead of posting pictures of the actual stroller being sold, they found an image of one. This makes me think there’s something wrong with the one they’re selling. So you always want to see the real deal.

Always Ask for Measurements 
How to Shop Craigslist, Craigslist Shopping TipsI found this pair of leather ottomans for $20, and although they were in excellent condition, they were a lot smaller than they looked in the picture.  I come across a lot of posts that include the measurements of an item, but if doesn’t, be sure to ask. Despite being small, I was still able to put the ottomans to good use. But there’s nothing worse than buying furniture that won’t fit in your space or even the doorway because it’s too big.

Get Background InfoCraigslist Shopping Tips, What Not to Buy on Craigslist

The condition of an item is important, but knowing what environment it’s coming from is just as vital. The two things I always ask are if the seller smokes and if they have animals. The smoke smell can’t be removed so that’s a deal breaker for me.  Animal hair is not a good look for furniture, but at least it can be removed. Of course you never know if someone will tell the truth or not, but you should definitely ask.

Check out Thrifty and Chic for a simple and cheap way to remove dog hair from your couch.

Don’t Overlook the Free SectionTop Tips to Shop on Craigslist

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “You get what you pay for.” For the most part, that’s true. But how much are you really losing out on if it’s free? People need to get rid of stuff and don’t want the hassle of moving it, so they put it on the curb and list it in the free section. The only downfall is some sellers don’t monitor the posts. So someone could have already picked the items up by the time you get there {hate it when that happens!}. Your best bet is to check the free section first thing in the morning so you can get a head start. When browsing later in the day, look at the time of the post.  If it’s a really good item and has been posted for more than a couple hours, it’s probably already gone.

What are some rules or tips and tricks you stick to when buying from Craigslist? What’s been the best items you’ve scored from Craigslist? 

About the author: Tay Singleton is an Interior Stylist and Life & Style blogger who lives in Nashville, TN.  Her love for color, texture and patterns is translated to her designs as well as her personal style. She releases all of her creative energy onto her new blog, Sassy Meets Classy. You can also follow her on Pinterest.

Images: 1, 2, 3

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  • Mol C. Nichols

    I had no idea there was a “free” section on Craig’s list

  • Karen J

    Sometimes its all in the name. In other words check under different names/categories: eg I was looking for 2 cabinets to flank both sides of my fireplace, I typed in buffets, cabinets, desks with no luck (expensive) for months. Then one day I just decided to type in credenzas and I found the exact size I was looking for and a lot cheaper and better quality.

    • Looking Fly on a Dime

      Great tip, thanks Karen!

  • Thrifty Chic

    I love the free section and other furniture section. I’ve found some great stuff, especially during the summer moving months when people just want to get rid of stuff that’s perfectly good. I got a free couch, end tables and a book case over the past year.