Nowadays, it's a bit trickier.
First of all, there are the scammers. I still haven't figured out how you can profit from replying to craigslist ads and saying you want to buy the item, but I guess they have. I read an article in Reader's Digest, and apparently there is this small European town (I forget in which country) that has a bunch of insanely rich people who got that way by graduating from car theft to craigslist scamming.
So the last couple times I listed something on craigslist, I got about 30 e-mails that went something like this:
"Hi do you still have item listed it looks like great. I very interested, please advise if you item is still available."
The return e-mail address is always so sketchy it might as well be "firstname.lastname@example.org" . . . really not quite sure how it tricks anybody. Must be the gullible little old ladies.
Then of course you have the craigslist killer. Ever since that whole thing was on the news I feel a little bit like I am taking my life in my hands to sell online. Equal parts terrified and exhilarated as I simultaneously plan how to kick butt while selling my item. As if I could actually karate chop anybody! The best I could probably hope for would be to jab somebody's eyes out.
So when I sell an item I have certain rules that I follow.
First of all, John has to be home when the possibly crazy person comes to buy. (Really, what kind of craigslist killer would respond to a baby changing table ad?!)
Second, I have the item out on the porch, and go out to meet them. I also make sure they see John inside, and carry the phone out with me to finish a (fake) conversation with someone else that I am arranging to meet up with in five minutes.
I know, the fake phone conversation is a little bit overkill. But this is the person who used to run around the Portland UNE campus by herself while pretending to talk into an earbud after watching Alias. It was fun to see reactions . . .
"I'm almost in position, over and out."
Anyone nearby would give a weird look out of the corner of their eye and move away as quickly as they could. Not sure what they thought, but it was fun.
Back to craigslist . . . you can find amazing deals online. When I sell, I have a bottom number I won't go below, and just re-list until I get at least that number. But a lot of people don't have an absolute bottom number, and you can sweet talk them down. I have never felt bad about doing this, I figure they can always say no, so push for the number I want. This week, though, I finally got a deal I felt just a wee bit bad about.
As many of you know, I have been having trouble with two of my three sewing machines. And I really do use all of them as each has a particular purpose. To have two non-functioning machines means I can do almost no sewing. Fixing each machine is going to cost between $80-100, and one of the machines really isn't worth fixing anyway.
Off I went to peruse craigslist. And the first entry I clicked on was for a Husqvarna Viking Emerald 116 that was just listed. Essentially brand new, used once, for $200 firm. That is a $300+ machine! Great brand, great model, couldn't believe my luck. But you can always get a better deal, right? So I called the lady, and said it looked like a great machine, and I would love to buy it, but $150 was absolutely my top offer. Would she take it?
Now I moved into high gear. I had to pick it up before she started getting calls from people willing to pay $200. She lived over an hour away on a good day, so first I tried to arrange meeting in the middle. But we couldn't meet in a random parking lot, because I would need to try the machine out . . . so then I got on the horn to some friends that lived inbetween us. I was in luck again! One of them was going to be home when I needed to meet my craigslist lady, and we could meet at her house. Doubly great to see my friend AND get this sewing machine.
If there is one law of craigslist, it is that the pickup never goes as planned. Sure enough, as soon as I had both kids in the car and was headed to the bank for cash, the lady called and said her daughter needed the car so she couldn't come. Grrr!
We arranged to meet the following evening, but it just didn't settle well with me. Mostly with my cheap side that didn't want to pay the $200 that it was well worth if other people called about it. So after more phone calls and hemming and hawing, I finally decided to go all the way out to her house when John got home from work. Quite sure this blows all of my safety rules out of the water. But who would list a sewing machine as an enticement to get you to their house to maim and/or murder you? I would think they would at least list something like a knife set, or maybe some sort of large appliance (to stuff you into).
Nothing can ever go smoothly. John got home in a timely fashion . . . at which point it started to snow. A lot. And my cell phone was dead. I headed out the door with my sister's cell phone in hand, and set out for Standish. VERY SLOWLY. Didn't ever get going faster than 45 the whole way, including on the turnpike. Almost an hour and a half later, I was there. I called John to let him know the address, and to call out the troops if I didn't call him back asap.
The house was a very tiny but cute little cape with a swing set in the miniscule front yard. I headed to the side door and was greeted by a nice looking middle aged lady, her very tiny dog, and two children. She pulled out the sewing machine for me to try, and about two seconds in I knew it had to be mine.
I only brought $150 in cash with me, so couldn't pay her $200. And she did agree to it. But I looked around her very tidy and threadbare house, and realized she needed the money far more than I did. That was the point at which I started feeling really badly about my good deal. The only saving grace was that she was clearly thrilled with $150, so at least she was happy with the deal.
I was just about to head out of the house with my new buy when she piped up.
"You really scared me with all your phone calls. I thought you were some sort of lunatic, and almost cancelled having you come."
"My husband is not thrilled that I came all the way out here . . . he thinks that you are probably a lunatic, and is waiting for me to call to say you aren't!"
Selling or buying on craigslist can be fraught with worries of danger, but I don't see it going away anytime soon . . . where else can you get a brand new $300 sewing machine for half price, or a whole set of cloth diaper with accessories, or a couch to replace your flowered behemoth? Just watch out for those tricky Europeans!
Don't forget, the drawing for my bag giveaway will be this Friday! All my followers will automatically be entered to win . . . scroll down to the "Followers" section on the right hand side and click on "Join this site." Follow the instructions, and you just might win the bag!