By: Revanche

Furniture shopping on Craigslist

January 7, 2010

I’ve always heard that Craigslist was a great place for bargains but is notoriously populated by flaky people, buyers and sellers alike so I was more than a little trepidatious when I embarked on this furniture buying adventure with my New Home friend who needed to furnish a new 2-bedroom abode.  It sounded like we could look forward to spending way too much time to try and save money, followed up by spending way too much money.     

I’m eating my fears now: it was well worth it financially to sift through the offerings, even though I bored of furniture shopping weeks ago! 

We found the following deals on pieces (targeting those made by CB2, Room and Board, and West Elm).

A deep set sofa designed for sitting IN and not sitting ON
Retail price: $1,199.00
Store delivery fee: $79.00

Total:  $1385 after tax

Craigslist price: $250 (bargained down, it wasn’t in pristine condition as claimed)
Slipcover bought new: $300 (had to be custom-made to fit) 
Rental truck fee: $20
Total paid: $597

An extendable dining set: table with four chairs

Retail price: $1,399.00 (table) + $199-299 x 4 (chairs)
Store delivery fee: $79
Total: $2477-$2913

Craiglist price: $250
Truck Rental: $20
Total paid: $270

There was a lot more in the way of appliances and furniture purchased in good, or almost new condition, but I was only allowed to share these two as the best of the bunch.

The shopping strategy was as follows: 
1.  Make a list of the absolutely necessary needs of each room:  seating, sleeping arrangements, storage
2.  Brainstorm how to make the most of each piece.  If you can, opt for either a futon/daybed style sofa for the second bedroom/office, or choose a sofa that includes a fold out bed, so you can minimize the amount of space filled.  Use a bench in place of (some) chairs, so it can be stored under the table.
3.  Browse retail stores in your area so you can actually inspect the furniture in person.  Things that look great online aren’t always going to be as soft, comfortable or supportive as you imagine.  Target pieces that aren’t too new: you’ll have better luck finding the used counterpart on Craigslist if they’re about to replace that collection in stores than if it’s brand new.
4.  Take your wish list to Craigslist, and search by location and store name.  This will narrow down your search considerably and very quickly.
5.  Spend 30 minutes a day checking for the best deals.  People post every day, and postings change constantly.
6.  Understand your market:  Depending on how metropolitan the area you’re perusing, you may have the luxury of picking the best quality for the lowest price.  Conversely, you may have to jump on a posted item immediately to have a chance to even look at it.

Most importantly
: Have patience.  If you’re on a tight budget and buying new isn’t an option, this process could take some time.  It helps to have a friend to bounce ideas off of during the selection period, too, because when you get burned out it’s tempting to just buy that table, or any table, and be done with the whole mess at the cost of your budget or your sanity when you have to replace the rickety, broken or ugly thing.

16 Responses to “Furniture shopping on Craigslist”

  1. L.A. Daze says:

    I’ve had good experiences buying furniture from Craigslist. The amount of money I saved is incredible. However, you are right. It does require patience – and also don’t be afraid to widen the search area (I started looking in other parts of LA as opposed to just the Westside).

  2. Money Funk says:

    I haven’t had luck finding a couch I like. Perhaps I need more patience. They are just mixed in with a bunch of ads for new couches, too. Although, I did find this cool furniture warehouse in Lake Elsinore – nice prices.

    Makes me think… let me go Craigslist shopping/browsing for a couch right now. 😉

  3. Money Funk says:

    Oh, just found I can search selectively, “furniture by owner”. It weeds out the dealers. Sweet!

  4. eemusings says:

    I’ve bought a few pieces secondhand, on the (much, much) price end.

    One day I’d like to have some nice furniture, kitchenware and a bedroom set!

  5. oilandgarlic says:

    Craigslist has definitely been worth it for me. I agree that patience is the key. People who are moving or want to get rid of large items like furniture will often sell quality items at great prices. I myself have unloaded good stuff at ridiculously low prices, depending on how much I want to get rid of things.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Just discovered your blog and spent the last 2 days reading archives! Wow you have a great blog.

    Just curious, are you employed now? Living with your parents?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Shopping is great on CL. However, I must ask, are you obsessed with shopping for shopping sake? Do you buy things just b/c they are a deal?

    Seems like a lot of women bloggers talk A LOT about shopping.

    If I were in your situation, I would actually be selling stuff, not shopping.

    my 2 cents

  8. Karen says:

    Anonymous 4:14 PM. Guess you don’t read very well. She shopped with a friend to furnish said friend’s place.

    I don’t think I could buy used upholstered furniture.

  9. Revanche says:

    @L.A.Daze: This was my first time out that gate, so I was very pleasantly surprised.

    @MoneyFunk: Did I just inspire you to go shopping?!? Not while you’re still paying down debt, missy! ;D

    @eemusings: My NYer girlfriend one upped me: she’s been getting nearly-new, FREE furniture. But she lives in NY which is a whole different culture than the metro area I was helping shop in.

    @oilandgarlic: I really like that CL works for people, I love that perfectly good things are going to new homes and are being used as they were meant to be used.

    @Anon, 12:36: Thanks, and welcome! Hope you stick around, but if you do, would you mind picking a name, any name? It’s easier to differentiate between commenters.

    I’m currently not employed and I do live with my parents because I support them. There’s no way I could support two separate households on one salary/just savings.

    @Anon, 4:14 pm: (I’m not sure if you’re the same anon or not. If not, as requested of the previous anon, it’d be helpful to the rest of us if you picked a name. Thanks!)

    LOL, no, I stopped buying things just because they were a deal years ago. If you read my previous post this week about shopping urges, it might seem contradictory but the fact is I’m completely aware of my urges and do not give in to them. I’ve never actually purchased any of the Tupperware I drool over at Target, for example, even if it’s on clearance because until I have my own place, it’s just clutter.

    I don’t sell stuff because I’ve already sold whatever I could sell of value – I just didn’t write about it at the time, I had the layoff on my mind. Also, I don’t own a lot of stuff.

    If you’re asking because of the furniture shopping in this post, none of this was for me. I was helping a friend furnish a new home.

    @Karen: It IS a pain to clean upholstered furniture, but I like the flexibility of pieces that can be covered with a slipcover. Extra protection and slightly easier to keep/maintain its cleanliness.

  10. Revanche says:

    P.S. @anon 4:14 pm: Might be worth noting that I am very open about my shopping as an accountability tool. That may be one reason why you see female bloggers sharing their shopping more than male bloggers.

    I have zero trouble with saving, so I don’t spend as much airtime on that.

  11. Ella says:

    Hi I am Anon@12:36. I will comment as Ella henceforth! 🙂

  12. Anonymous says:

    @ Revanche – I’m Anon 4:14pm, but don’t know how to put my name in lol.

    So you are saying more women are more open about shopping and that men shop equally as much, but are less open? Maybe, I don’t know.

    I’ve come across 5 female blog sites, and it’s about: shopping, shopping, what should I cook/eat, finances, and then more shopping.

    Seems to me women are more obsessed with shopping.

    BTW, great job saving all that cash!


  13. RC says:

    Anonymous, choose Name/URL and don’t enter a URL. Pick any characters for a “Name”. That’s what I do.

  14. Revanche says:

    @Ella! I love it, welcome!

    @Lucy: I can really only speak for myself as I know exactly why I blog about shopping comparatively more than men do. Blogging about savings and investing is fun to me, but a) it’s too easy, and b) I think it gets old for the reader if that’s all I talk about. Besides, I’m pretty conservative so it’s not like I’m going to be offering stock tips! 🙂

    But if you keep looking, you’ll find that there are very many bloggers, male and female, who cover a variety of topics that may include shopping but don’t focus on it. You know what? If you want to start a Google Reader account, I’d be happy to share my reader items so you can see for yourself. It’s much easier than listing all the names of women bloggers who aren’t all about shopping. I should be better about sharing stuff on GReader anyway. 🙂

    @RC: Thanks for the tip!

  15. Jessie says:

    I’ve had no luck with Craig’s list – but find that kijiji is muuuch better!

  16. Revanche says:

    @Jessie: I’ve never heard of them before, I’ll have to add it to my list of places to check for deals! Thanks!

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