Carless Kijiji (& safe shopping)
August 26, 2018 5:28 AM   Subscribe

I need to buy a bunch of furniture over the next few months, and I want/need to buy second-hand. I don't have a car (or a license, for that matter). What's the best way to bring home my purchases? Bonus: As a single woman, would you go into Kijiji sellers' homes alone?

Last year I bought a large item and hired a "guy with a truck," who did a bad job and scratched my new floor. I called a small local moving company I trust, and their minimum charge is $150.

How do carless folks buy second-hand?

Also, single women, how do you stay safe when shopping for used stuff online?
posted by Frenchy67 to Shopping (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've had good luck getting recommendations from thrift stores that sell a lot of furniture. They usually have a few names for "guys with a truck" that they'll give you, and I've had better luck there than just hiring people off Craigslist. (It's also always worth asking if the seller can deliver it for you.)

However, in recent years I've mostly started using Zipcar or the equivalent instead. It makes the logistics much easier not having to coordinate with a third party (and usually works out to be cheaper). One car sharing service I used had Ford Transit Connect vans, which are way better for furniture-hauling than any normal car. You say that you don't have a license, but it might be worth getting one for furniture alone if you live in an area with good carsharing coverage.
posted by enn at 5:44 AM on August 26, 2018

You can rent a U-haul van for $19.95 plus mileage, as long as you follow the fine print about racking up additional charges.
posted by pintapicasso at 6:08 AM on August 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sorry to threadsit.

Just to clarify: I don't have a license because I don't know how to drive. Even if I learned today, it would be a year before I'd be permitted to drive alone (graduated licensing). Solutions that involve me driving aren't going to work.

Love the thrift store recommendation, thanks, enn!
posted by Frenchy67 at 6:16 AM on August 26, 2018

I'd second the suggestion to shop at a thrift store where you are likely to find most/all the items you're looking for in a single trip so that you only get hit with the charge to hire movers once. Also, depending on the size of the pieces, you may find some sellers who are willing to deliver to you for a generous extra sum.

As far as safety--I think the idea that there's a special risk to one's safety buying and selling off online marketplaces is more perception than reality. Personal safety crimes are quite rare, and most of the serious crimes in that category are male-on-male violence involving high-value or illegal goods (cars, cell phones, drugs, guns...)
posted by drlith at 6:19 AM on August 26, 2018

If you've got time, join your local Buy Nothing group (probably run via Facebook), and you can get an idea of who's giving away the item. These groups also tend to be hyperlocal, so you may be able to get away with a handtruck + walking / giant bag + bus, depending on the piece. You can also request help in moving things in these groups!

For situations where you need a vehicle (e.g. mattress disposal) and are ok with app-based service platforms, I've used Dolly; when I used it, I got a guy who did a great job and was also taking his young daughter for a day out afterward. For better or for worse, there is a star rating to guide your choice.

I've mostly used Craigslist and not Kijiji, and the best advice I have is to trust your feeling about who's at the other end of the line, and don't be afraid to bail on a deal.
posted by batter_my_heart at 6:21 AM on August 26, 2018

Do you live in an area where Lugg (an app) is in operation? I’ve had great luck with it.
posted by suncages at 6:22 AM on August 26, 2018

I did a whole lot of furniture sherpa stuff when I moved to Chicago carrying stuff on the street in a 95F heatwave. What I wish I had done and what i would do now:

I'd get a crap skateboard so I could wheel some stuff on top of it. I'd also buy a dolly and some bungie cords so I could have better handholds on things I had to carry. Also gloves.

A substantial number of sellers area were also willing to deliver for an extra fee. This is particularly common with people who are estate resellers (pretty common on craigslist in Chicago particularly if you are looking things by 'styles' like Mid-Century Modern).
posted by srboisvert at 6:24 AM on August 26, 2018 and craigslist/free have great stuff, sporadically, and free helps with the cost of moving stuff.

When you go to someone's home, take pictures with your mobile and send them by email to someone, saying I want to send this to my boyfriend. That is a record of your visit (phone location). Or post an ad on craigslist for a woman with a van or truck who will help you move stuff.
posted by theora55 at 6:49 AM on August 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

If it fits in a car, I've found a lot of sellers are willing to deliver for a fee. They'll usually want paid first so you'll have to trust them to come through, but it has worked for me.

I do always bring someone with me to someone else's home, and get friends to help with any required lifting.
posted by stillnocturnal at 7:19 AM on August 26, 2018

Do you have a friend who can drive? I have been the Zipcar driver for a non-driving friend picking up furniture.
posted by gideonfrog at 9:32 AM on August 26, 2018

When my wife buys stuff through eBay/kijiji that needs to be picked up I pick it up for her or she goes with a friend. It’s probably not necessary but you know - with a little bit of organizing, it becomes one less thing to think about.
posted by From Bklyn at 9:40 AM on August 26, 2018

Best answer: There are a few options.

A) buy from somewhere that can deliver. Yes, second hand and consignment shops sometimes offer this service; call around. Yes, this costs a lot, sometimes more than the price of the furniture. It's the car-less tax, sorry. If you are getting your furniture from a religious charity shop like a St. Vincent de Paul or Bibles for Missions store, the delivery drivers are volunteers so it costs less than a consignment store that hires a moving company at a preferred rate. Some Salvation Army stores can hook you up with delivery but I find their furniture is usually extremely overpriced and in very bad shape- they are cashing in on peoples' poverty. Don't bother with Value Village.

B) You can hire a moving company and eat the cost. I've used kijiji "guy with a truck" before and not had the bad results you have- many of these small business dudes will have an online presence. Try searching for reviews or getting recommendations.

C) you can ask a driving friend to help you with the furniture pickup.

D) you can ask the kijiji seller to deliver the item to your home. A lot of people will do this for a few extra dollars. A lot of this stuff is stuff people just want the hell out of their house. When I do this it usually is an item I'm willing to buy sight unseen- travelling to these people's homes is too much of a PITA. I've never had any problems with creeps or weirdos delivering to my home. Just keep the door open until they are gone if you are worried. I have never, and would never, pay in advance for a kijiji purchase- I pay on delivery. It costs them nothing to bring their unwanted trash to my home even if I end up not buying it.

D) for smaller items like mirrors, night stands, small tables, etc. you can call a cab and ask for a van, walk it home (take lots of breaks! Don't be embarassed!) or take it on transit. If you can carry it yourself, you can carry it on a streetcar. If you are lucky, the streetcar or bus will have the wheelchair seats that you can lift out of the way, and you can stand with your purchase. Yes, hauling a coffee table or low bookshelf on the bus and then lugging it home from the stop is horrible, but it is also possible, if you are very determined. Do not try this on rainy days as you will have to set the item down often.

As for safety, I'm a woman and I would just meet the seller in their lobby with the item if I were worried. The best approach is to be willing to buy the item when you set a time to view it. Only walk away if there is some serious damage, obvious bugs, the seller lied about it or tries to change the price, or something egregious like that. You will save yourself a lot of hassle this way. Do all your comparing and deciding before actually going to view.

You can bring a friend with you or have a safety call/text and let them know where you are going, giving the address, time, etc. But I have seriously never had a problem.

One final note is that bedbugs are a real and hellish risk and those suckers can hide really good in any space the width of a credit card. They hide in hard and soft furnishings. You can do a very thorough inspection, think a piece of furniture is ok- and later discover how horrifically wrong you were. Bedbugs are far more of a threat than weirdos or murderers.

If your budget can stretch it at all, buying cheap disposable furniture from amazon/ wayfair/ walmart/ ikea is much safer than buying second hand furnishings. Plus, amazon, wayfair and walmart will usually deliver for free (ikea delivery is not free but some ikea locations offer shuttle bus service so you can tote one or two purchases at a time. Tedious but effective).

Inflatable beds and cheap lawn furniture aren't comfortable or great for entertaining, but they are better than bedbugs imo. Buying used furniture was fine 10 years ago before this problem got so bad, but I wouldn't risk it now for most items.
posted by windykites at 4:05 PM on August 26, 2018

« Older Quality time without food? [snowflake alert]   |   Kids and Gender Identity Conundrum Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.