My Life with Craigslist

I smiled when I saw movie previews  of  “Craigslist Joe” as I can see how one can find just about everything they need to get by in life from this website if they had the time and smarts to use it.  I’ve used Craigslist a handful of times and each occasion was with fiery purpose and determination and once my needs were met I had to take a long break as it can be addicting and time consuming.

The first time I used Craigslist was in early 2000 to contract licensed massage therapists and market a mobile massage business I started on the side. Finding therapists was easy but landing a clean clientele was tasking. Unfortunately, then, and still today, there’s a stigma with massage=sex and that’s not the market I was aiming for as I was offering medical/therapeutic  services. In fact, 99.95% of the time, the person on the end of the call was male and had selective hearing. I’d mention at least 3x during the introduction, “This is a NON-SEXUAL massage service… Your non-sexual massage therapist is with…. Thanks for booking with us and please remember, this is a non-sexual massage service. The therapist will immediately terminate the massage for any inappropriate behavior”.  The client also had to sign a non-sexual massage disclosure to reinforce the rules. Eventually, managing unreliable therapists and dealing with an unrealistic male clientele became daunting so I decided focus on alternative endeavors.

The next time I used Craigslist was to sell leftover items after my  Facebook auction. My ex and I had split up and had a 3000 sq foot home full of furniture and household items to sell. I held an auction on Facebook among my friends (including  friends of friends) and it was quite successful. I still had some leftover items so it went on Craigslist. Luckily, each prospective buyer kept their appointment and bought what they had come to see, and more.  What I didn’t sell on Craigslist was then displayed at a garage sale.

Can you meet new friends on Craigslist? Yes, but with caution of course just like any other online website. I needed a summer lease at one point and found an ad for a prime Chicago unit steps from the lake with a roommate, a sous-chef who was rarely at the apartment. When the summer lease was almost over, I considered finding a new roommate and picked a single female accountant looking to get out of the burbs and into the city. We went apartment-hunting a few times but ended up not rooming together. In both situations, I made solid acquaintanances.

Last month, I moved into my own apartment — which I found on Craigslist. I had an apartment to fill with champagne taste on a beer budget so Craigslist came to my rescue again. I found gently used furniture pieces from Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, and Macy’s. Yes, searching through Craigslist can sometimes feel as if searching for a diamond through a haystack but I learned how much household items depreciate,  I didn’t want to spend a fortune as I did with my previous house.

Some advice:

  • Never respond to ads that ask for money or  require transfer of funds upfront, or asks for any personal information. It’s usually a scam.
  • Be wary of pictures or lack of pictures. For example, some landlords will post pics of a similar unit but not the actual one you’ll be visiting or living in. Photographers can also make the pic appear so that the room looks bigger.
  • Make sure you know exactly what size or measurement of anything you are looking for and that the posted item fits the bill before you make a trip.
  • When you are sending multiple inquiries on various rental units via email, keep good tracking records so in case the landlord/agent calls you back, you know what ad and/or unit they’re referring to.
  • EVERYTHING is negotiable even if the ad says FIRM. I’ve negotiated up to 50% off the asking price. Learn how to negotiate without insulting the seller.
  • Be 100% satisfied with your purchase before you pay. Make sure everything works. No refunds in most cases.
  • Put a deposit down as good faith if you need to come back for a 2nd trip but get a receipt.
  • It’s good to know someone that has a truck/SUV who can assist you with carrying big heavy items. Or hire an impromptu professional mover that does side jobs if you aren’t able to do it yourself. Especially if it’s a hot ticket item where another potential buyer may beat you to the punch. I have three impromptu professional movers to get me out of a bind.
  • Cash is king.
  • If you don’t find what you’re looking for, try doing a broad generic search and narrow it down from there.

My latest Craigslist search was for ceiling to floor length double wide curtains. After a week of an unsuccess, I brought out my sewing machine, bought fabric and embellishments to my taste, and sewed away. Sometimes it makes more sense to start brand new. 🙂