We aren’t moving into our new house for a few months but I’ve already been trolling Craigslist every evening looking for new furniture. Moving from 500 square feet to 1700 square feet is a big jump. There are a lot more rooms to furnish than before. I mean, we are going to actually have a dining room! I love Craigslist and when I’m looking for specific furniture nothing is more time and cost efficient for me than Craigslist. Most of the furniture from my house is from Craigslist and I definitely have my bag of tricks to get people to answer my emails. I swear I already wrote a post like this but I couldn’t find one in my archives so here are all my Craigslist tips and tricks in one place. (The pieces below are some I want for my new house, no one in the Bay Area is allowed to search for these the next few months, deal?)
Tip #1. It Takes Time | The number one thing you can do to find amazing things on Craigslist is spend a lot of time looking. I know this sounds obvious but I used to wonder how people always found such amazing pieces for cheap and my friend explained how she spent 1-2 hours every evening looking on Craigslist. (And this was even before they had the picture feature when you had to click through and it took twice as long.) I really started having success when I adjusted my expectations for how long it was going to take. I go through phases but when I’m redecorating I will spend a few evenings a week searching and emailing.
Tip #2. Search Tricks | Everyone has their favorite search terms but depending on what I’m looking for I try to get very specific or very broad. For example if I am looking for a farm table (which I am) I will search specifically like: “french farm table” or “vintage pine table” after that I search with broad search terms like: “vintage table” or “old dining table.” Sometimes I’ll get really broad and just type in the word “vintage” and spend and hour looking. I’ve found some really great pieces that way. Another search trick I have is to use 1st Dibs. 1st Dibs is kind of like Craigslist for Rich People. Because I’m not a furniture expert it helps to go look at the amazing selection of sofas or dressers. When I find one I like that has a brand I’ve never heard of I do a search for that on Craigslist. For example I found that great dresser above by American of Martinsville, a brand I’d never heard of, and when I searched on Craigslist for “American of Martinsville” I found some beautiful dressers for 1/10 the price of 1st Dibs.
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Tip #3. Take a Screen Grab | Usually if I am searching for pieces I’ll open up an email window and then just put the different Craigslist links in the body of the email. Once I’ve spent some time “adding them to my cart” I go back to the email and look at each post to decide if I’m going to contact the seller. I take a screengrab of all the listings I’m going to pursue. This is especially helpful if sellers put their numbers in the ad. I’ve had a few incidents where either the ad expired or I lost the email address and I was able to contact the owner after the ad was removed from Craigslist.
Tip #4. Getting the Seller to Respond | There is a secret to this that works for me 95% of the time. My epiphany for working with sellers happened when I was trying to sell my own furniture on Craigslist several years ago. I realized that i just wanted the furniture out of my house as soon as possible. So when I was choosing between all the people who emailed there was one that said “I’m very interested, I have cash and can pick up the piece tonight.” I immediately emailed the guy who made me feel the most confident in his intent to buy. The key is to sound extremely interested and like you are ready to take it off their hands ASAP. If you have more questions or want to bargain don’t include that in the initial email. Once they respond to you and you are making plans to go see it you can kindly ask if it smells like smoke or if they have a pet or if they are willing to bargain a bit. I personally don’t bargain unless I get there and it has stains or something that wasn’t pictured.
Tip #5. Set up an RSS Feed for your Favorite Items | My friend Brooke taught me this trick a few years ago, you can have your favorite searches show up in your feed (like Google Reader RIP). The only problem is people use so many search terms that you still have to weed through a lot of stuff. I’ve found the trick is to get super specific. For example if you search for “Saarinen Table” it is going to be a waste of time, you aren’t going to want to search through all those spammy posts. But if you search “Vintage Authentic Saarinen Table Marble” then when the table of your dreams comes onto Craigslist you’ll be the first to know.
Ps: Emily Henderson did a really great post about this right here.
What are your favorite Craigslist tricks? I’d love to hear them!