When we moved in to our rather huge home, we didn’t have a whole ton of furniture. I did buy a new mattress. But for everything else, I turned to Craig’s List.
It’s amazing. I can buy things that are still in the store for dimes on the dollar from Craig’s List. It still blows my mind.
Take, for example, the Belmont Kitchen Island. $499 plus tax at Crate and Barrel. Mine works just as well, and looks just as nice, and was $200. So far as I could tell, it hadn’t seen much, if any, use.
By the way: my mother and I made the window treatments you see in these pictures. All fabric was less than $4/yard at Marden’s Surplus and Salvage. As for the labor, I’ve put my mother’s retirement to good use 😉
I decided I have a thing for Ethan Allen furniture. High quality and all that. The Berwick Chair seemed nice, but man was it expensive, $1,479 depending on the basic upholstery choice. A few months of diligent Craig’s List searching, and voila! That Berwick chair was mine for $150. A retired couple in Marblehead was downsizing. Like the queen size cinnabar colored Ethan Allen Kingston Bed, but feel $1,899 is a little pricey? I got this bed for $350 from a beautiful custom built craftsman home in Natick. I got the Turner Coffee Table, in like-new condition, for $150 because it didn’t fit in with the loft style of a Revere man’s new condo. It’s mind blowing. People around here decide they need to redecorate, and they can’t get rid of their old stuff fast enough. If you like that pillow cover, it can be yours for $4.85.
Lamps and lighting fixtures are another great thing to buy on Craig’s List.
Yes it’s true, I have a thing for stained glass.
I’ve lit my entire house for $300. A couple in North Reading “updated” their kitchen countertop from granite to marble, and replaced their pendant lights with Edison style lights. Boom! New dining room and front hall fixtures for us.
Given Craig’s List, I struggle to understand how anyone would buy full priced furniture and fixings for their dwelling. I understand the appeal of New, but I have gotten plenty of like-New things from Craig’s List, and I get the added benefit of feeling smug about the price.
I’m proud of my purchases. There’s a lot of snobbishness about Craig’s List stuff. Some of my coworkers make a face as if they’re smelling something terrible when they explain to me that they could never buy secondhand furniture. You know what? Less competition for me. My husband and I walked around the Natick Ethan Allen store a few weeks ago and high-fived each other whenever we saw a piece we owned (he hates to high-five, but at this point, he’s given up).
There are a few “tricks” to Craig’s List and the second-hand world.
#1 – Don’t buy stuff willy-nilly. Just like stores. If you go in to Home Goods without a mission, chances are you’ll leave with $200 less in your bank account and only 2 throw pillows and some Easter themed dishes, and a “Live Love Laugh” wall decal to show for it. No one plans to buy a “Live, Love, Laugh” decal. It’s one of those crazy-tragic things that happens when you don’t have a plan. Don’t just browse Craig’s List and buy whatever catches your eye, because a ton of stuff will catch your eye. Look for something specific. Be patient. It may take a few months to find exactly what you’re looking for and negotiate the price you want.
#2 – You win some, you lose some. Nine times out of ten I put in a lowball offer that doesn’t even get a response, or that offends the seller. But without asking for a lower price, I wouldn’t get a lower price. I think of the “no’s” as saving me money.
#3 – Budget. When I was furnishing the house, I would set aside a Craig’s List budget. I enjoyed hunting for things within my budget. One of my strongest negotiation responses is along the lines of, “unfortunately I cannot meet your asking price because my Craig’s List budget this month is $65. If you have trouble selling x, please don’t hesitate to contact me.” Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s imperative to stick with your budget! New furniture is a luxury item. No one deserves a new couch. All furniture and household goods should be very low on a list of spending priorities. Furniture should only be acquired by households with only mortgage debt or less.