When we bought our house two years ago, we had essentially no furniture. To give you an idea, I’d made my previous dresser out of cardboard boxes–so, we were faced with a pretty blank slate. Solution? Craigslist, make our own, garage sales, and the side of the road.
But most especially, Craigslist–the font of incredible used goods. If you haven’t purchased new furniture recently (or ever), take a gander at the prices. Go ahead and look. Mortified? Horrified? I certainly was. Even Ikea, the bastion of affordable furnishing, is still more expensive than used–I know this because I price-checked every single used item we bought.
I became a Craigslist maven. I stalked the furniture section early every single morning and learned the going rates for each type of furnishing to ensure we weren’t overpaying (possible to do even with used stuff!). The minute I saw an item I liked, I’d email the person and we’d arrange to pick it up as fast as humanly possible.
Craigslisting is both art and science. I honed my skills over the year that it took to furnish our home and, through this experience, compiled…
The Frugalwoods Ultimate Craigslist Tip List!:
- Don’t search for the specific item you want.
- Do not type in “dresser” or “couch” as not everyone shares the same furniture nomenclature. The typos on Craiglist are equal parts disturbing and hilarious. So, tough it out and browse the entire furniture section daily. Plus you might use items not for their intended purpose, such as:
- Do consider the driving distance to the seller.
- A long drive should be factored into the cost of the item and may make something less of a good deal.
- It probably doesn’t make sense to drive an hour for one small side table, but it might make perfect sense for an entire dining room set.
- POUNCE asap!
- If you see a good deal, other people will too. Email the seller immediately, be friendly, and offer to come right away.
- Ask the seller for dimensions.
- Don’t rely on the photo–get the actual, factual measurements. We were burned by a gigantic couch and a micro-chair. Seriously this was a doll-sized chair being passed off as a regular human chair.
- Do haggle.
- After you arrive at the seller’s house, offer less than asking price and be prepared to pay cash. Don’t haggle by email in advance.
- Once you’re at their house, chances are they want that thing outta there so badly, they’ll be willing to make a deal. I’ve never paid the full asking price. Even $20 off is a savings!
- Ask if they’re selling anything else.
- This is another great tactic to employ after you’re at the seller’s house. Sellers are often in clean-out or move-out mode and will happily throw in a few other items. This can yield a major bundling discount. Again, they want to get rid of it and you’re already there with cash in hand.
- When we bought our couch side table, the sellers were moving and we ended up also buying a mirror, a blanket (pictured above), and some power tools.
- Don’t be squeamish about buying couches or beds.
- I’ve purchased both off of Craigslist and lived to tell the tale. We did “vet” the sellers by entering their home and determining they were clean and didn’t have bugs. And if you get a bad feeling, just walk away. You’re not obligated to buy something just because you came to look at it.
- Be flexible and consider well-made furniture that’s an ugly color.
- It’s quite simple to refinish/repaint yourself.
- Don’t be matchy-matchy.
- I think an eclectic blend of unique pieces is vastly more appealing than identical twinsies that look like a showroom floor. Plus, it’s very difficult to get everything to match when buying used.
- Focus on quality.
- Don’t buy cheap Ikea stuff used. Buy “real” furniture that people are discarding because it’s out of style or old.
- Be patient.
- You’re not going to find everything in a day. We slowly furnished over the course of a year, which I’m glad about. We also have several very lightly furnished rooms–no need to cram stuff into every corner–just buy what you need to be comfortable in your dwelling.
- We spent very little money and were able to find free cast-offs on the side of the road too!
- Have fun!
- We had a great time doing the Craigslist thing. Keep a sense of humor and don’t overpay out of desperation–the right items will come along eventually.