Comparison shopping on craisgslist
April 10, 2010 9:42 PM   Subscribe

What should I be buying on craigslist?

What's something surprising that you previously wouldn't think of buying on craigslist, but actually saved you a lot of money?

An example of this: I've recently taken up snowboarding, and it's been burning a hole through my wallet. Even after various deals and steals, I've spent $500 on lift tickets and transportation this season. On a whim, I decided to search craigslist for lift tickets and — ta-da! — they're $40 instead of $80! There are even season passes for transfer (which I know is illegal, but as a poor college student find overwhelmingly appealing)!

So, MeFites, aside from my typical craigslist go-tos — housing/apartment rentals, furniture, concert tickets — what should I be buying on this behemoth of a site?

(Re: legality, I'm not too concerned about buying things on the complete up-and-up. As long as it's not a scam, I'm down.)
posted by ardent to Shopping (24 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
You're going to have to look for the stuff that interests YOU, which makes this difficult to answer. After my geriatric cat died, I had extra, unopened bags of his "old cat" food. Someone bought that off of me via Craigslist. T hey got a deal, I got rid of something I no longer had the need for. You probably don't want geriatric cat food, but you will find stuff you need/want/like if you look hard enough.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:06 PM on April 10, 2010

I found a pretty awesome room to rent in a house in the suburbs of Paris, for a couple of weeks. Not for everybody, though.
posted by amtho at 10:08 PM on April 10, 2010

Best answer: Not so much "buying" but it could help fund your new student-limited snowboarding budget - I checked under the ETC listing on the jobs boards and find consumer studies I can take part in, they're usually super simple and I do one or two a month and they pay about $100 cash for about two hours of your time, talking about deodorant or how you like your magazines laid out. Craigslist is awesome for finding these jobs, they'll typically be like "SHOPPER STUDY: WOMEN 18 - 35 - call and ask for GENERIC FEMALE NAME" answer a few questions and if you fit the type of person they're looking for, bam! $100 in cash cash cassssh.
posted by banannafish at 10:13 PM on April 10, 2010 [11 favorites]

My husband and I wanted speakers for our home theater. We just wanted something cheap for the time being that we could upgrade sometime in the future. He did some research and a friend who was knowledgeable about those kinds of things told him about some relatively old speakers he'd heard that were amazing. My husband found out that particular manufacturer didn't make those exact speakers anymore, but the newer version was $2,000. He found the old version on CL for $150 and they are amazing.

I wanted a milk frother but they were all $40-something. I got one off CL yesterday for $6. CL is pretty good for appliances in general.
posted by Nattie at 10:13 PM on April 10, 2010

Bikes and wooden furniture. We've saved quite a bundle.

Also, any common household item (doormats, mugs, microwave, toaster, etc) can easily be found for free or very cheap.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 10:16 PM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

yeah. everything.

i bought a $5000 motorcycle for $1900 at the expense of months of diligent CL monitoring.

I built a bicycle that would go for easily $1200 if I tried to resell it for less than $500 by just buying the parts when they came available.

If you can think of something that you want to buy and you don't care if it comes in a retail box, you should probably either be buying it on craigslist or ebay depending on how rare the item is.
posted by 256 at 10:18 PM on April 10, 2010

Weight lifting and other exercise equipment.
posted by mnemonic at 10:38 PM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I bought a portable dishwasher for $130 on Craigslist and it has improved my life a hundredfold. A comparable size and model bought brand-new would have run us about $500.
posted by scody at 10:40 PM on April 10, 2010

I found a Steelcase desk chair that normally costs around $1000 for $200.
posted by amtho at 10:43 PM on April 10, 2010

Books - scan the ISBN to see if you can resell it.
posted by k8t at 10:50 PM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Subscribe to the RSS feed to make it more digestable.
posted by k8t at 10:50 PM on April 10, 2010

I'll tell you one thing you shouldn't be buying on Craigslist: furniture. I have a friend who just bought a nice, nearly-new couch there. The fellow who sold it to her was a remarkably kind gentleman, and his son loaded it in his truck and brought it to her house and helped move it in free of charge. They asked a nice price for it, and assured her that they'd been the only owners it had seen, and that it was indeed in just as good a condition as it seemed to be.

A week later, the bedbugs started appearing.

I wouldn't even buy anything upholstered at all on Craigslist, honestly. People are nice, and they might not even realize it - but you never know.
posted by koeselitz at 11:57 PM on April 10, 2010 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: I understand that this is subjective, but I wanted to hear if other users had "wow" moments on craigslist like I did. An epiphany of sorts — as in, "I knew you could buy everything on craigslist, but I'd never thought about buying this. I'm never going back!"

Thanks for the answers so far!
posted by ardent at 11:59 PM on April 10, 2010

Best answer: Yes, weights and weightlifting equipment. Prices for weights @ used sporting goods stores have been steadily rising (now at around $1/pound for used weights). Heck, even Goodwill charges $1/pound, even for the old concrete-filled Weider weights. Craigslist rules them all on this. I bet this time of year would probably be the best time for exercise equipment shopping...
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 12:02 AM on April 11, 2010

Response by poster: These are all awesome, thanks -- I marked the ones i'm definitely following up on as best answer, but please keep them coming!
posted by ardent at 1:47 AM on April 11, 2010

Before you buy it post what ever it is you are looking for in 'wanted' set your price as 'free or cheap'. Wait for phone to ring. Some great deals this way.
posted by Muirwylde at 3:23 AM on April 11, 2010

My husband jusy bought a gorgeous 1895 piano of Craigslist for $600. The piano expert he paid to go look at it said it ws worth a lot more. So musical instuments?
posted by murrey at 3:47 AM on April 11, 2010

There is a documentary called 24 Hours on Craigslist that is a series of answers to your exact question. I highly recommend it. My favorite part of the doc is the crazy love stories. There was this lady that had a garage sale (posted on CL originally) and this guy came up to her and bought something. He asked her where she was going and she said she was selling her belongings to travel the world because she was retiring soon. A year later, he was hiking in Italy and ran into her. She was painting a seascape. He asked her out to dinner and now they are married.

Here is a description:

’24 Hours on Craigslist’ documents a random day-in-the-life on Craigslist San Francisco. An Ethel Merman drag queen searches for the perfect backup band for her Led Zeppelin covers. Doors for sale, one night stands, compulsive roommates, transsexual erotic services. The mundane and the sublime, the ridiculous and the profound, all come together to paint a portrait of thriving, humanistic community in the midst of an ever-accelerating culture."

You can watch the trailer here.
posted by timpanogos at 5:55 AM on April 11, 2010 [4 favorites]

Yeah, craigslist is also a fantastic source for pianos. If you're poor like me, you can usually find one about once every few days that somebody's offering free if you'll only just come and haul it away. I got mine that way, and it's made me very happy - all you have to pay for is a moving truck and a tuning.
posted by koeselitz at 10:13 AM on April 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

I was also going to suggest exercise equipment. I fell in love with a used Schwinn Airdyne stationary bike at Play It Again Sports, but they wanted $250 for it. A couple of weeks later, I got one for $150 through Craigslist. They're $600+ new.

Likewise, you can easily get a beginner's olympic weightlifting set for around $100 (including bench, bar, and plates) if you're patient. A lot of people buy one of these, use it once, and then hang dirty clothes on it until they finally give up and sell it...
posted by vorfeed at 12:40 PM on April 11, 2010

Ikea shit.

Honestly, if you're trying to cheaply furnish your place, and are going the particle-board route anyway, why buy new?

Everyone who wants to "upgrade" from their college furnishing will ditch their Ikea stuff on Craigslist, usually for significantly savings. It's the most abundant thing I see on the local site.
posted by Pomo at 1:13 PM on April 11, 2010

Best answer: If you're vain but cheap like moi, check out ads for salon students. Seriously, I've gotten the best cuts and colorings of my life by bright young things who study under Paul Mitchell and John Frieda. They list ads for people with certain hair types and lengths, sometimes with style/color specifications, at about 1/10th of the normal price.
posted by zoomorphic at 1:38 PM on April 11, 2010

This weekend was a spectacular gardening craigslist weekend for my transition to more edible landscaping in the yard: I posted "free evergreen bushes, you dig" and they went away. I answered an ad for blueberry bushes, and put up a second ad as I was thinning out my perennials. The funniest part of all of it was probably the chatty email I got from another edible-landscaping fan, asking me what I was going to be planting. It's a great plant-swap. But if you have no yard, you don't really need that. Similarly, I hear it's a fantastic resource for new parents. But I don't need that.
posted by aimedwander at 10:14 PM on April 11, 2010

The answer can vary with the location. In my experience, the Santa Barbara, CL is an excellent resource for used surfboards and used camera equipment at great prices. The constant churn of students at UCSB and SBCC provide the boards, and the students at the Brooks Institute of Photography who constantly upgrade their photo equipment are always selling very nice stuff.
posted by Mendl at 2:42 PM on April 12, 2010

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