July 31, 2013 8:46 AM   Subscribe

Best practices for selling things on Craigslist? I have a bunch of random things I'd like to get rid of by selling them on Craigslist. But I have no idea how that works, so I have a lot of questions. What things sell well on Craigslist and what doesn't? How do you price stuff? Where do you meet the person? (I don't think I want randoms showing up at my apartment.) What's the best way to put up an ad? How to avoid scams? What happens between when someone responds to your ad and you decide to sell the item to them. Anything else I need to know? Things I would like to sell include some 4 or 5 year old Lego sets (Vikings, Star Wars, a house, and some others), an airport extreme, maybe a CRT tv, an few years old but never used crock pot, etc. If it's relevant, I'm in Chicago.
posted by nooneyouknow to Shopping (36 answers total) 74 users marked this as a favorite
When I've sold things on Craigslist, I've met people at the Dunkin' Donuts down the street from me. It's safe, other people are there, and if they don't show up, I at least get a donut.
posted by xingcat at 8:50 AM on July 31, 2013 [5 favorites]

I've sold furniture on Craigslist, and I priced it by searching for similar items. To write the ad, I also looked at other furniture ads, either to spot good ideas or bad ones.

LOTS OF GOOD PHOTOS, seriously, you might as well not bother if you don't have a good photo.

I will say that I've failed before to sell things on CL that I later sold on Ebay. For stuff like the Lego sets, you might have more luck with Ebay, because how many people withing driving distance of you are in desperate need of Legos, vs the entire country?
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:53 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding "meet someone at a nearby public place up the street." I have no trouble meeting people at my apartment usually, but I got a weird vibe from one guy and asked that we meet at a coffee shop.

As for pricing - I usually do a search for similar items that are on sale and see what they're charging. Then I take that range, and if I'm selling something in especially good condition I price it at the high end of that range - but if I'm just trying to get rid of the thing I charge it at the low end, sometimes a little bit under.

One of the big scams to watch out for is if someone tries to pay you in some weird way or asks you to ship it to some weird place. And in terms of "what happens between when they contact you and when they decide to buy it," usually the most that's happened is someone asks me a couple questions and then says "okay, I'll take it". Most of the time they just say "is it gone yet? I want it." I just go with whoever says "I'll take it" first.

and yes, photos always are good. Also, a willingness to be fair if they get it home and for some reason it's stopped working (I did that once - I was unloading an air conditioner that I hadn't used in a year and a half, and the guy called me the next day and said it wasn't working. I gave him his money back, because, seriously.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:57 AM on July 31, 2013

The only thing I've sold on Craiglist without meeting at a public place like a Starbucks is a table saw and a set of tires, and if I could lugged those down to a Starbucks, I would have done that, too.

And Legos Legotm blocks and Star Wars toys? Totally eBay material.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:00 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've bought and sold stuff on Craigslist. Here's my selling advice:

1. Good pictures. Put a ruler (or some other common item, like a quarter or a magazine) next to the thing so that the purchaser can get a sense of size.

2. Tell your friends. Seriously, I have had more sells from making a Craigslist post and then posting about it to Facebook. Usually someone knows someone who knows someone who needs a widget, and the deal is made.
posted by Elly Vortex at 9:01 AM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

How to tell if it's a scam:

-Anytime someone wants to buy something without seeing it in person first
-Anytime someone balks at you asking for cash only*
-Anytime someone tries to pay with a money order or cashier's check
-Anytime someone overpays you for what you're selling
-Anytime someone suggests that you use "their courier"
-Anytime it doesn't make sense. (For instance, I promise-promise-promise you that the guy who lives four states over from you does not want to buy your three year old barstools for $20 bucks.)

*Are there legitimate people who will want to pay you with a check? Yes. But legitimate people will also understand your desire to Not Get Fucked, and will figure out a way to give you cash. Oh, also, I should mention: accept no forms of payment other than cash.
posted by phunniemee at 9:02 AM on July 31, 2013 [6 favorites]

Craigslist is a fair amount of hassle, and people want a deal. You'd be lucky to get $5 or $10 for your crock pot and anything at all for your CRT TV. I would take those to Brown Elephant and the electronics recycler, respectively. Smaller stuff that's worth something (toys, Airport Extreme) should definitely go on eBay. I only sell stuff on Craigslist if it (1) is too heavy/cumbersome to ship and (2) will net me more than $25.
posted by payoto at 9:16 AM on July 31, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best practices for selling:

-Post good photos and list accurate measurements.
-Give the real reason you don't want it. Spin doesn't sell as well as honesty. An ugly-to-you table is easier sold as "I inherited this and it is not my style" than "look at this beautiful table it's so gorgeous but I may be convinced to part with it for $50." I just recently sold my old mattress and I was honest that I decided it was way too soft for me and in fact I was mostly sleeping on my firm couch. If you don't give a reason, people assume worse ones (bedbugs, soiling, broken springs, etc). Also describe it well so you don't have buyers come to waste both parties' time because there's a defect you left out.
-Price it on the low end especially if time is of the essence in selling it. Otherwise people can see it getting stale and will notice you dropping the price and by the time it sells you'll probably end up having to mark it down further than if you'd just priced the thing right in the first place.
-Don't put ridiculous requirements in the ad, and don't sound like an ass. "Will not check email, only call if absolutely serious about taking it," will get far less interest than just "calls preferred." Any barrier you put up in the ad will considerably slow interest, and slow interest means stale goods and lowered prices.
-If you can deliver, put it in the ad.

Best practices in general:

-Do the deal while the sun is still out. If it involves a lot of cash, do it in a safe space for you. Ideally do it in a public place; less ideally at least only reveal your home location to the actual buyer (don't list it super specifically in your ad to the whole internet).
posted by vegartanipla at 9:17 AM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

A CRT TV won't sell. Put it on your street on garbage day, if you're lucky someone will take it away for you. Unless the Legos are MIB, you probably won't get anything for them either. A crock pot, that you can buy new for $10 at Target, so again, donate it or trash it.

List everything separately. People looking for Lego sets will not also be looking for a Crockpot.

I sold our treadmill on Craigslist for $250. We discussed over the phone and I ascertained that he didn't SOUND like an axe murderer and he and his wife came to the house, disassembled it enough to get it out of the basement and into their vehicle. I bought it for $400, it was only a year old. I was paid in cash and met two very nice people.

I have had dismal luck selling a desk and a corner nook on CL. A couple calls, no takers.

Price things for about 1/10th of what you paid for them, unless it's something desireable. Look at ads for similar shit and slightly under-price your item.

Be very specific about where you will meet people, I live in Atlanta so I specifiy Inside The Perimeter, and my city name. People won't travel all that far to be honest, especially for small stuff.

Lots of pictures are good. Very specific descriptions of collectibles is good.

My advice is to find a multi-family garage sale or similar and sell your shit there. Otherwise, just donate it, it's just not worth the hassle of posting your stuff on Craigslist and fielding calls and inquiries for the $20 you MIGHT make on what you've described.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:19 AM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh god, and this is going to sound SO STUPID, but it works.

Do you have a nice bowl? Like a really nice bowl? One that you'd put fruit or something in if you had to pretend like you were a fancy person? Pull it out and fill it with brightly colored fruits (bananas, oranges, apples, etc) and put it in your well lit photos.

Selling a table? PUT A BOWL OF FRUIT ON IT.
Selling that crock pot? Put it on a table and PUT A BOWL OF FRUIT ON THAT TABLE.

I sold a kind of lame coffee table (that I bought at a thrift store for 50 cents) for $50 using the fruit trick. I sold a cheap, scraped and scuffed Ikea pressboard endtable that I got for free for $10 using the fruit trick. I even made five whole bucks selling a fucking used tire that I pulled out of the lake using the fruit trick. (Yes, I put a goddamned bowl of fruit on top of the tire. Yes, I made sure to state that the bowl of fruit was not for sale. Yes, I clearly stated the provenance of the tire.)

That tire was sold on a lark, when my roommate and I were marveling at how stupid people were when confronted with a bowl of fruit, and we were all, "omg, maybe we can sell an old tire by putting a bowl of fruit on it." We were not disappointed.

Bowl of fruit, yo.
posted by phunniemee at 9:28 AM on July 31, 2013 [813 favorites]

Pictures, pictures, pictures. I don't even look at posts on Craigslist that don't have pictures.

When you start getting emails/texts/whatever from potential buyers, the biggest red flag for major scammers is that they don't refer to the item specifically by what it is. They make their money by sending out hundreds of emails a day, so they usually have a form: "hello I am inquiring if the item is still for sale. I would like to purchase it." instead of "Hey is that lego kit still available?".
posted by specialagentwebb at 9:31 AM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've sold a lot of stuff on Craigslist, and had mostly good experiences, but my #1 piece of advice: be prepared for a lot of flakes. People will call and tell you they're 100% into buying the item...and then they won't show up. They'll text with apologies and set a new time to come by...and then they won't.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:46 AM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

Don't put your phone number in the ad unless you want every idiot within 50 miles calling up and asking you if you if you will deliver the crock-pot to their house and they only want to pay $5 instead of the $10 you asked.

And everything that everyone else said.

I've had decent luck selling stuff on Craig's List, but it's generally been for things > $100 (appliances and such). For cheap crap I'd probably just donate them to charity and take a fraudulently large tax deduction.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:46 AM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

Junk the TV. Unless you're especially desperate for cash, donate the crock pot. Sell the Airport and Legos.

Anything so obscure that there won't be multiple people within easy driving distance who are looking for that thing will be better sold on eBay, because eBay gives you access to a national (or even international) market. Anything so common and commonly wanted that it's basically a commodity (like an iPhone) can be sold easily and for a good price on Craigslist. I suspect the Airport will be easier to sell an CL than the Legos, unless you price the latter really cheaply.

I have an interest in old chainsaws, and I can tell you that even here in Western PA, where the hills are covered with trees and a chainsaw is a very handy thing, old chainsaws bring far less on CL than they do on eBay. Consider that a CL buyer has to contact a stranger, negotiate with that stranger, trust that stranger that the thing being sold is as functional as the ad claims, drive to meet that stranger (costing gas and time), and still possibly walk away with nothing. It doesn't take too many additional obstacles, like a lack of photographs, or bad photographs, or poor writing, or strange demands, to make engaging with the seller totally not worth it. Make the transaction really, really easy and safe-feeling for the buyer. If it's not worth your time to do so, it's not worth listing the thing at all.
posted by jon1270 at 10:01 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've sold Lego sets on CL before, easily, at a better profit than what eBay would've meant. People will definitely buy loose Lego, too. It really depends on how scarce/desirable the set is, though, for the profit on CL vs eBay.

But +1 that your teevee won't sell, and neither is the slow cooker unless you're sort of lucky and are asking $5.

I have been selling and giving away junk on the internet since the early 90s and I have never once met somebody at a location other than my house if I'm selling, or their house if they're selling. I am a 5'4" unthreatening female. If I wanted to buy a thing, a not very expensive thing, I wouldn't bother with a "7:15 at the doughnut shop, ok?" deal. The more convenient you are, the more attractive your item -- "I'll be home between 6 and 8" is more appealing than an appointment. You will definitely get people who flake on you, and being at home reduces irritation there.

I know 'meet in a public place' is common Ask advice for CL, but I don't actually know anybody in real life who does that. If somebody suggested it I would wonder if they were a junkie who didn't want me seeing their squat looking to unload a stolen item. Maybe CL rules are different in Canada? It is kosher to not let the person into your house, though; in my experience, these transactions take place on porches and in apt building lobbies/halls.

Be prepared for last-minute hagglers -- another reason for lots of clear photos; if there's a "How about $[lower price] because of the smudge," well, the smudge was in the pictures; just say no. (OTOH, if the buyer turns up a flaw that you didn't note, you've already taken up their time -- offer a discount...)
posted by kmennie at 10:09 AM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've sold quite a few things on Craigslist, ranging from furniture to kitchenware to concert tickets to shoes. My philosophy on selling things that might not be popular is "Why not try?". I sold a dish drying rack for $5 when I lived in Vancouver using that philosophy. In my opinion, the best way to get rid of a lot of little things is to list everything and set an end date/time for yourself. When I wanted to try to sell pretty much everything in my apartment in Vancouver (preparing to move overseas), I listed everything on Craigslist one Saturday morning. I specified in the ad that the item(s) had to be claimed that day. Out of about 35 things that had to go, only 2 were left by the end of the day (and I just tossed them out). This includes things that I didn't think anyone would even consider buying (the aforementioned dish drying rack, for one).

So, list whatever you want. As mentioned above, include photos and dimensions where applicable. Be honest about your reason for selling.

As for the public place vs. home debate... I did meet people in public places a few times when selling stuff on Craigslist - mostly when I sold concert tickets (lots of money) or something easily transportable. But when I was selling floor lamps and my couch and my bedframe, I tried my best to screen people over the phone, and then I would invite them to my apartment. I always, always, ALWAYS made it seem like someone else might/would/could be there, though. "Yeah, 6 pm is fine. My boyfriend or I will be home to let you in." Whenever possible, I would have someone there with me as a precaution. But to be honest with you, I was never really worried when I had buyers show up and I was alone. Sometimes the buyers would keep the apartment door open, pop in and view the chair/table/bookshelf, pay me, and then carry it out, all within a 2 or 3 minute timeframe. If someone did come all the way in to my apartment and we started chatting, I would usually stand by the door with my phone in hand, just to be overly cautious and extra safe.

(Since I am blabbering on about Craigslist, I feel the need to tell you that when I was moving from Toronto to Vancouver and listed a lot of stuff online, I was kind of sad to be moving because a lot of the buyers who showed up seemed like people I would really like to hang out with/become friends with. When I moved from Vancouver and listed a lot of stuff online, the same thing happened. You learn a lot about people when they're dismantling your bedframe or trying to figure out how they're going to fit your futon on their cousin's roof rack.)
posted by gursky at 10:48 AM on July 31, 2013

My friend sells all her CL stuff on Saturdays at a fixed time, during daylight hours. She provides lots of pictures and info in the ads. She invites a friend to be there at the same time - it's not uncommon to go over for brunch while she's selling something. Sometimes she lets a neighbour know she has someone dropping by and they go knock on her door a minute or two after she lets the people in. I try to sell stuff when I have family over for the weekend.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 11:20 AM on July 31, 2013

Often when I sell or give something away using craigslist, someone will agree to come at a certain time but show up 2+ hours late, or they don't show up at all. You can deal with this by saying that you'll be available for a specific 30-minute period, or ask them to phone you when they're about to come over.

It's common for someone to say on a Monday, "I can come by on the weekend." To that, I answer that I'll call them on Friday if the item is still available.

In the ad, I include a line saying that I need to sell to the person who can pay and take the thing away soonest. People will understand that you want to get whatever it is out of your dwelling.

I ask in the ad for people to send me their phone number in their email reply, because it'll allow us to make arrangements more easily. I say it twice in the the beginning and at the end. Then I ignore the replies that don't include the phone number.

I include clear pictures of any defects.

If your listing price is the lowest you're willing to take, it's good to say in the ad that your price is firm.
posted by wryly at 12:30 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

You are going to spend a ton of time answering emails and waiting for people who never show up. I would not go the Starbucks route unless you were already going to be there anyway.

The only way we were able to successfully sell individual items on craigslist is to bundle them together in a garage sale listing. That way, you have a set window of time for people to come over (you're going to be there anyway) and you're not alone with a random stranger. This was very successful for bigger items (air conditioner, microwave) but a complete waste of time for smaller items (dishes).

No one will buy the CRT at all. No one will buy the crockpot for more than $10, so factor in the time you will spend trying to sell it. Honestly, I would never sell on craigslist again, it's waaay too time consuming and annoying.
posted by desjardins at 12:31 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

My rule with Craigslist is to price everything to get them gone. I'm not trying to make big bucks. I'm just trying to make room and get rid of stuff I don't need or use. Unfortunately, the flakes and scammers seem to outnumber the legit shoppers by a factor of about 5-1. Be prepared to wade-through a lot of crazy. Don't jump on the first response you get.

As for the TV and crockpot that everyone says won't sell...consider putting them up on Freecycle. I guarantee a TV and a crockpot will be snapped-up immediately on Freecycle, and will probably go to people who truly need them.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:35 PM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

Craigslist is great for items that are too bulky or nichey/local to sell on ebay. I've had decent luck with some things, not so much with others. Here are my specific stories.

Kayak (didn't sell) - had a lot of photos, had a zillion people trying to lowball me. Did not want to sell it for such a low amount, didn't sell it.
Kayak racks (purchased) - met the guys in a parking lot of a nearby gas station, inspected the racks, paid in cash. Everything was negotiated beforehand and I knew exactly what i wanted and didn't dick around on price.
Rowing machine (sold) - had a low price tag, sold it to the first people who offered what I was asking. Said in the ad that they had to have two strong people to carry it down my steps and they came to my house and did. They paid cash.
Car (sold) - had some folks show up and try to dick me around with the old "It's leaking tranny fluid" routine. Told them to go away. Someone later came and offered basically what I was asking for it, I let it go for a little less than what was in the ad and had planned to do this. They paid cash.

Sometimes when I just want things gone I'll put them on CL with a $5 price tag which seems to get people more than just saying "Free" would. That is what I would do with the crockpot and the TV. I'd sell the lego stuff on ebay unless you have a reason not to. You may also want to see if there is a local selling stuff group on facebook if you use it. I've had a lot of luck with smaller lego-type stuff selling in my local area facebook.

And yeah people can be annoying but you can just establish boundaries. I tell people to email me, will give them my phone number when we've made a deal so that they can text me day-of. You basically have to decide if it's more important to make money, not be annoyed, get the stuff gone or some combination. I can deal with a little annoyance to get a big annoying rowing machine out of my house.
posted by jessamyn at 12:40 PM on July 31, 2013

Just my $0.02: When I sold my old Lego sets, I had a lot of success listing them on BrickLink ( It lets you set up open-ended classified ads for each set, then allows you to easily change the price or put items 'on sale' for a discount. They take a bit out of the money you make, but it was small and worth it. I know your sets aren't 'classic', but I sold an old Expert Builder set from 1982 for around $200!
posted by Don_K at 1:07 PM on July 31, 2013

Nth meet at a nearby public place— I use the 7-11 that's at the end of my block. For pricing guidelines, I'll check the local CL for that item as well as eBay 'completed listings' to get an idea of what it's being successfully sold for.

Photos are critical, they have to be attractive enough to be enticing but accurately depict the condition of the product. I can't tell what the drivetrain components on your bike are if they're facing away from the camera, and I can't research the model of TV/crock pot/whatever if the brand and model aren't visible. For computer stuff the actual model and year is really important, as your AP Extreme could be from like 2006 or last year. Big difference.

I'm also going to be upset as a buyer if you've grossly misrepresented this item that I've driven to some random place to look at, and therefore more likely to lowball you.

I've also listed, shopped for, and bought cars on CL, fwiw. Similar things apply.
posted by a halcyon day at 1:10 PM on July 31, 2013

My wife claims great success with her technique of pricing something to the nearest multiple of $20 plus some random number. The buyer is almost always coming directly from an ATM and will certainly try to haggle once they're in front of her. Somehow the negotiations always nicely end up in a stack of twenties and no change is necessary.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:44 PM on July 31, 2013 [11 favorites]

I'm with those who consider Craig's List a sort of in-town yard sale -- happy to have a token amount for something just to be rid of it. When I've actually wanted money for something instead, it's been an iffier proposition (more in the sense of having to take less than "it's probably worth" than in the sense of the buyers, all of whom were very nice).

With furniture and the like, you pretty much have to give out your address eventually. I usually have somebody call just before they head out and give them directions then, rather than offering an address to the various folks expressing mild interest or whatever. My desk and outdated compuer went to good homes, and a lot of large kid equipment has gone for token amounts to friendly fellow parents...
posted by acm at 3:23 PM on July 31, 2013

I've sold an asston of stuff on craigslist, like thousand and thousands of dollars worth over >10 years. I've also sold a few grand of stuff on ebay.

Sell the airport on ebay. You'll have trouble getting anyone to come pay $80 for it on craigslist, but they sell for $80 all day on ebay. Yes, you have to give up a fucking usurious amount like basically 10% to the ebay gods, but you'll still end up with more than you would on craigslist. You also don't have to deal with craigslist people.

Basically anything with an apple logo on it goes on ebay now for me. Furniture and large stuff, and maybe some stereo gear goes on craigslist. Anything small and electronic i think will be annoying to sell goes on ebay.

Craigslist can be really really annoying. Not that i haven't had annoying ebay experiences(Like one prick who harped on me for the description of the item ebay automatically placed in my ad not matching what he got, even though i had clarified in the written description that it wasn't exactly what that said), but they have absolutely fucking NOTHING on the annoying craigslist experiences i've had. Easily half of the people who say they'll show up don't, or back out. Lots of people are determined to come at really annoying times or show up early and then act indignant about waiting.

Many people also act like you're there damn support technician for whatever the thing was. "hey i plugged it in to my stuff and now its not doing XYZ like it was at your house". Not my fucking problem dude, good luck. This can get really dumb in "Hey the handle fell off the drawer on the desk" "Yea, i saw your smashing the handle into the side of your van when you were throwing it in" "it was already broken and you just glued it back on and now it fell off CONSPIRACY THEORY!" way INCREDIBLY fast.

Nothing is ever, EVER worth selling on craigslist for less than like $50. I would think long and hard about selling anything for less than that especially if you don't want people to come to your house. It will be more hassle than it's worth, and you will spend more than $20 worth of your time dealing with it. I'd basically only bother if i didn't have the means or want to haul something off from my house on my own, and it had obvious intrinsic value.

If it were me i'd put the lego sets and airport on ebay, the TV on there for free(and put it out on the curb, just say like "free tv works at the corner of bla and bla"), and consider just dropping the crock pot off at a thrift store.

Honestly i like craigslist a lot more for buying than for selling, and ebay is the reverse. You get better deals as a customer on craigslist and as a seller on ebay, and it cuts out the really annoying part of craigslist which is dealing with stupid customers. I literally got a weird stalker type dude who would call my house for days and want to talk to me via craigslist.(this was in like 2003... i was 13)
posted by emptythought at 3:26 PM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've written here before about selling on Craiglist.

Along with what I wrote there, a couple of other things.

To cut out on spammers, I start each item I list on CL with the following:
First things first-- to make sure that you are human, and not software harvesting my email address to sell to spammers, I insist that you put the words "I AM NOT A SPAM-BOT" in the title bar of your email to me.
Sorry to insist upon this but life is too short to deal with scum-being spammers. Again, if "I AM NOT A SPAM-BOT" is not in the title bar of your email to me, I am not going to respond to it.

I never give out a phone number or even respond to anyone unless I've gotten that email from them.

Everyone has a cell phone now, I tell them to call me when they're on their way, or else we can set up another time. This really cuts down on the whole no-show thing.

I've never had problems with people seeming too sketchy or scary but I'm a big guy so less worried about that than others might be. I do not let anyone in the condo, meet them out front.

I price things fairly. As in, really fairly. One annoyance to me is people who think that they have to pound you for every dime, chisel you out of ten bucks or five -- jesus christ. I state clearly in my listing that I've listed the item for a fair price and that I'm not going to play that silly game, and I don't play, but it seems that some just don't believe it and have to test me. A test I'll always pass.

Say I'm selling something for forty bucks, they come over, they clearly want the item, but then get a hard gleam in their eye and say "I'll give you twenty dollars." A mistake. The price is now fifty bucks.

And if they try to weasel out of that the price is now sixty bucks.

I'd take a hatchet to something rather than sell it to that person at a chipped-down price, I'd sooner throw the item in a dumpster.

On the other hand, when people come over and buy without a hint of playing that game, I always throw something in, maybe a mix cd, a nice pen, a small piece of art, whatever, sortof rewarding them for not being a jerkoff.

Cash only, period.

No trades. In the listing I thank them ahead of time for asking but no, I'm not accepting any trades. People always want to trade one child’s swim fin, a Timex watch with a worn brown band, and a rusty christmas tree stand for the jacket I'm selling -- not gonna happen.

And the item sells to the first person who shows with the cash, period. Yes, I like you a lot, I can see that you are a fine person, yes, I'd love for you to have the hiking boots, but no, I'm not going to hold them for you until October 17th. Unless no one else has shown up before then, of course.

It can be fun selling out there.

Good luck.
posted by dancestoblue at 4:40 PM on July 31, 2013 [8 favorites]

The Tube TVs aren't un-sellable, but the target market for them is likely not able to afford a computer to browse craigslist.

I sold 2 25 inchers (and the VHS player) for $5 each last fall during our garage sale, and they were some of the first items to go. The people that bought them appeared way down there on the income scale.

to reiterate:
Good pictures, description, and reason for selling
First one to the meeting place with cash gets it
No, I'm not going to deliver it.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 9:42 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think you've gotten the answers you need for your particular items, but I have to add one craigslist strategy that I use that I haven't seen yet: list high, sell low.

I always list items for about 25% more than I expect to get, and pretty much every single time come back down to that price in the end. Craigslist people love to haggle, and I find they generally expect to pay 20% less than the asking price. Listing it high means that the people who show up will be prepared to pay the price I actually want, which means less frustration.

For example, if I feel an item is worth $80 (generally based on looking at recent eBay sales then subtracting a bit), if I list it for $80 I will get a ton of interest from people who will show up and offer $60, which is a waste of my time. List it at $100 and they get screened out - people come prepared to pay $80, they talk me down, we both go home happy.

When I'm buying, on the other hand, if I'm offering less than the asking price I make my offer before we meet in person. This also reduces frustration. My craigslist strategy is all about reducing frustration.
posted by pinespree at 6:55 AM on August 1, 2013

I've bought a fair amount on CL. Please keep your ad updated - if you have 3 items, and 2 sell, update the ad. Once you sell the items in the ad, take down the ad. Take decent pictures. Even if you don't use the 'bowl of fruit,' your picture of the crockpot in a dark corner of your garage is unappealing.

When you sell stuff, pretend you're a store, and have some hours of availability. If you're really vague, or too busy to state a time I can come see it, it's a pain. If you're not there when I arrive, what? There are real scammers. There are a pox on humanity. But Craigslist is a web-based service. Please accept email. Please list a valid phone number. When I call, and get a family member with no clue, what? Or, you don't want to do email, but your phone message states that you're at work and can't take calls. You are selling something, please find a way to make yourself and your stuff available.

I've delivered freecycle items if someone was pretty likely to show, and it was convenient for me, like we can meet at Starbucks on the way to work, where, even if you don't show, I can enjoy a cup of coffee.
posted by theora55 at 7:54 AM on August 1, 2013

Crap, I forgot the most important thing, and I'm kind of appalled that nobody else mentioned it: Sign up for Google Voice, and use that number as a burner contact (text/voice) for your ad.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:08 AM on August 1, 2013

People will definitely buy loose Lego, too.

Yep. I bought a 30-gallon tub of it some years ago via CL when a guy was obviously cleaning his stuff out of his parents' house. No mystery, no worries. It was fairly cheap, and though I spent many hours washing, sorting, and cleaning it, it was totally worth it!
posted by wenestvedt at 8:09 AM on August 1, 2013

oh and idk if this has been covered above, and is probably mainly a pet peeve of mine but...

If you are selling something SIZE SPECIFIC (like a bicycle, or a pair of shoes, or a wedding dress, or whatever) put. the. goddamned. size. in. the. title. header!!!

I can't count how many used bikes I've failed to buy or send links to for friends/students because the seller can't be arsed to PUT THE GODDAMNED SIZE IN THE TITLE HEADER. I don't even bother opening the ad.

it's really not that hard.
posted by lonefrontranger at 9:57 AM on August 1, 2013

oh and I don't know if this is area-specific to Boulder, but I always meet the buyers for my used bikes at the good local pro bike shop that's a couple blocks up the street from my house. The guys there are always willing to take a minute or 2 to give it a once-over and it significantly cuts down on the lowball factor, because I have a well established relationship with the wrenches there, buy a lot of stuff from their shop, and they will flat out tell the buyer in essence "you're getting a good deal on this, it's in great shape, don't be a dick about it".

/just sold 2 city-bikes this week on CL and got my asking price thanks to this methodology.
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:05 AM on August 1, 2013

Never give your real phone number. Apparently, you start getting random texts after that.

Give a google voice number (which provides free redirection to your actual phone).
posted by bbyboi at 10:56 PM on August 15, 2013

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