When Johnny and I are about to purchase a big ticket item, we inevitably turn to Craigslist as one of our first resources. Finding a great deal on there sometimes takes just a few minutes. For instance, the townhouse we live in now was the very first rental I called about. Boo yah. Other times, Johnny and I both scour Craigslist for days — weeks, even — before we find the one of whatever item we’re searching for. The $30 glider in Baby Girl’s room? Yeah, we spent weeks searching before we found that jewel. Whatever the process, I’ve always found it to be a fun one. It’s like a treasure hunt of sorts for grown ups. And it’s paid its dividends to our wallets. My favorite part about Craigslist? Negotiating with the seller. I love talking the price down on an item.
And each item we’ve found always has an interesting backstory. It can be kind of awkward walking into a complete stranger’s home to look at an item — or, better yet, meeting a complete stranger in a public place knowing only their shirt color. But once you make it out alive and with a sweet deal, it’s totally worth it.
Here’s some of our favorite finds and the stories behind them:
Leather Messenger Bag
Story: Johnny needed a man bag for his laptop. He met a guy in front of Grand Central Station in NYC. It’s hard enough finding a stranger from Craigslist in a public place… it’s even harder when that public place is one of the busiest places in the world. For $25, Johnny got a leather messenger bag *supposedly* custom made in Australia. It’s now served him well for almost four years.
2006 Ford Focus
Story: We bought this car right out of college. Purchasing it involved meeting what seemed like a shady guy in a shady little office. He ended up being really nice and honest, and we got an awesome deal. Five months later when we moved to NYC, we were able to sell the Focus for over $1000 more. Score!
Custom Cast Iron Coffee Table
Story: We were living in NYC at the time. I had been scouring Craigslist not only for a coffee table, but one within walking distance of our apartment in the Upper East Side. I’d looked at a few already and then found an especially promising one about 20 blocks away. Johnny and I were feeling ambitious and decided that if we liked the table enough, it’d be worth the 20-block walk back. The seller was a fifty-something man whose partner was 20-30 years his junior. We discussed their two lap dogs for a few minutes and then the bargaining began! What started as a $125 table ended up only costing us $90. We then carried it home 20 blocks amongst the crowded Manhattan nightlife. And, by the way, cast iron is much heavier than we were anticipating! But it was just what we were looking for and totally worth it.
Designer Computer Chair
Story: We bought this item in NYC as well. I took a 40-minute subway ride down to the West Village to look at this chair. It was located in a hair salon, and it’s original price was $30. When I got there, they decided to give it to me for $20! My next task was getting it home. Once I got it down the stairs and out on the sidewalk with the help of someone in the salon, I needed to hail a cab. Of course, it started raining at this point. Luckily, I found a cab half a block away, and the cab driver very reluctantly allowed me and the chair into his back seat. After 40 minutes in rush-hour traffic, the chair and I made it back safely to our tiny apartment. Cha-ching!
So those are just a few of our favorite Craigslist treasures. We’ve yet to regret a Craigslist purchase, and I’m sure Craigslist will continue to serve us well in the future.
Have you scored any awesome Craigslist finds? Ten points to the person with the craziest Craigslist story. Ready, go!
I’ve been on the site before, but I have never bought anything from Craigslist. I know some people whose entire houses essentially are made up of stuff they found on Craigslist. I might check it out again sometime…we do have a (growing) pile of stuff we will either have to sell on Craigslist or ebay sometime soon.
We’ve had GREAT luck selling stuff on Craigslist! When you do sell your pile of stuff, definitely give it a try!
wow that’s some awesome stuff! I’m always looking on Craigslist but I have never bought anything.
You just wait! It’s only a matter of time before you find yourself a treasure on there. And then you’ll really be addicted 🙂
A couple of my favorite finds on Craigslist came from a rather unusual strategy. Search the word “moving”. It’s like a treasure trove of people willing and ready to make deals on their most prized possessions. My 2 favorite finds from this strategy:
1. A 55″ HD Projection TV (a few years old), with CUSTOM-MADE cabinets retailing for approximately 3500 dollars. Total cost? $200. The seller was a liquor distributor who was down-sizing as he was contemplating his next move within his business. I live in the midwest, so housing is much cheaper here, but the house from which the items came was easily a million-dollar house.
2. A set of teak bunk beds and matching dresser for $175. This particular item was interesting. The couple who were selling were relocating to Arizona from the middle-of-nowhere Kansas. I drove the hour and half to their house to find their daughter SLEEPING in the still-constructed bunk beds. I immediately offered half of her ask because I was going to have to take down the beds myself. We ended up settling on $175. It took me another hour to take it all apart and get it loaded in my truck, but my kids love it.
Your finds take the cake, Matt! Such awesome finds. I love finding people who just want to get rid of their stuff, and they don’t care about making money. You scored big time with that TV!
Great finds! Craigslist isn’t that popular on the east coast of Canada, though exists, the competitor Kijiji is much more popular. I’ve bought and sold a load of stuff from cars to renovation materials to baby toys. I also always check online classified first before buying!
I’ve never heard of Kijiji but it sounds just like Craigslist! And it sounds like it’s served you well! Thank goodness we don’t have to look through newspaper classifieds like our parents did 🙂
I actually sell a lot more things than I buy on craigslist, so I’ll share two of my most memorable experiences:
1) I sold a slider (remember those?) cell phone on the night before Thanksgiving to a guy down the street from my apartment. He said he was working late and closing up his shop, so I could meet him there. I dragged my friend along with me to make the sale. What the guy didn’t mention to me was that his shop was a creepy, darkened store that specialized in leather play.
2) I was selling a huuuuge tube TV. When the guy showed up early to pick it up, I was alone in my apartment. His appearance via closed-circuit television was pretty scary and I decided I didn’t want this weird dude in my apartment without another person to find the body. So I hid. He buzzed from downstairs and I hid. He buzzed three more times. He called me a few times. Then he started knocking on my door. I don’t know who let him in downstairs, but now this creeper was standing at my door. So I hid. And hid. He was probably really disappointed and not a serial killer, but we all make decisions.
Haha! Awesome stories. The stories alone make it worth it. And don’t feel bad about hiding… you might have saved your life that day!
I purchased a 55 gallon fish tank, with stand, lights filter etc for $50. The guy even let me take the 15 fish in it (down to 1 badass survivor murdering fish who just won’t die but won’t let me add any new fish). Same set up would have been several hunderd dollars!
Hahaha. That’s amazing. I hope he has a fitting name like Bloodluster or Killgills or something. Maybe the dude sold it so cheap because he was traumatized by his killer fish. Either way, awesome score.
I haven’t bought any furniture on craigslist but I sold a bunch when I moved long distance a few years back. One of the items I sold was an antique drawing table that was my grandfather’s. It was a beautiful piece but huge and some of the prongs and connections were getting worn. It folded but was an awkward shape and would have cost a fortune to ship. My Mom and I were ok to let it go. The guy who bought it was super nice and said “I’ll take good care of it”. So yeah there can be great stuff there.
That sounds like an awesome piece. I’ve found that most people are looking to sell furniture/items because they simply don’t have the space. All of the furniture we bought in NYC was because apartments were small and they didn’t have room for newer, nicer furniture. It just so happened to be that their older, not-so-nice stuff was still wayyyy better than anything we had ever gotten to that point.
I’ve bought and sold a ton of stuff off craigslist. I don’t know what I’d do without it. Great finds. If you like CL you should watch the documentary Craigslist Joe. A guy spends 30 days living and eating with the kindness of strangers off CL. Very interesting!
That sounds like my kind of movie! Thanks for the recommendation.
We usually use CL to sell stuff, but we have bought a few things. Our best find was a recliner that we bought six years ago for $25. My wife was pregnant for the first time and her back really bothered her. It helped her sleep many nights and we still have the thing.
Sounds like a steal of a deal. You’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of that $25. I’m sure you beam with pride every time you sit in it.
We sell a ton of stuff on CL, as well. We have another post cooking in the over of our favorite selling scores and stories. Stay tuned.
Nice job! I have purchased and sold things on Craigslist. I am about to list my jeep wrangler because I don’t have the time or money because of the baby. That hobby will have to wait for a couple more years before I can dedicate the time to it.
Funny you mention that. I’ve been thinking about listing some of my guitars since I don’t have as much time for those babies with my new human baby. I’d love to read a post about the final outcome and selling process of your Jeep.
We bought a large sectional couch off Craigslist for $150. We were very careful in inspecting it though.
We also bought a dining set that I loved. And we’ve sold a bunch of stuff too. I heart Craigslist. It’s the broke newlyweds’ dream…
Craigslist should throw “The Broke Newlyweds’ Dream” underneath their logo as a slogan. And you should collect royalties.
We’ve yet to buy a couch on Craigslist, but we’ve sold four. 🙂 And our dining set is also from Craigslist. Joanna talked the price from $350 down to only $125, PLUS free delivery to our NYC apartment. Proud husband moment for sure.
Wow, good for you. We also look online first before heading out to make a big purchase. You picked up some great items.
When we’re out shopping at Walmart or Costco, we always have our phones out scanning barcodes and looking things up online before we make purchasing decisions. We’re frugal nerds — and proud of it. 🙂
Ditto for Ontario, no one uses Craiglist, just Kijiji. But it’s basically the same. Almost all the furniture in my house came from Kijiji, except my bed which I bought from an actual store, and a few other pieces I got from friends and parents. My most recent Kijiji find was a really nice scroll saw for $100. Best Kijiji find is a toss-up between a nice pine corner cabinet, delivered to my house (actually to my living room) for $65, and my couch, which was free, and even came with a name (Thomas – the people giving him away came and waved goodbye as we left. He still goes by Thomas). My best Kijiji sell was my above-ground pool that came with my house, for $1500. 🙂 The other place I like to go is weird antique/odds-and-ends stores invariably run by quirky old men.
I had never heard of Kijiji before reading these comments. But I’d totally use it over Craigslist because it has a way cooler name. 🙂
Haha. “Thomas the couch” is freaking awesome. That is the best online classified score EVER!
I LOVE Craig’s List. About 70% of our furniture is from there. Some of my favorite finds: a $50 Pottery Barn table (retails $399) and our son’s dressers for his nursery (2 for $45). My husband is a little less enthusiastic about CL since I’m always dragging him all over LA for a deal! 🙂
You can blame Craigslist for me being up at 12:30am right now. It always sucks me in at night.
Those are awesome finds! Can’t go wrong with 80% Pottery Barn.