Trying to decorate on a budget or curate a unique style for your home? Craigslist can be a trove of buried treasure if you know how to find what you're looking for! Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks for finding great pieces and scoring sweet deals!
Looking for something in particular? Try these tips:
Broaden Your Definition – Not everyone knows what a “credenza” is, think about how else you might describe it and search using those words. For example, “dresser” “sideboard” and “side table” may turn up something new.
Be Specific – I know this seems like it contradicts the tip above, but if I am looking for a set of dining chairs I intentionally search for “chairs” with the “s” – if I’m looking for an accent chair and don’t want a matching pair, I leave it off.
Narrow Your Criteria – Personally, I only search for listings that include pictures. Descriptions can be misleading, but pictures don’t lie! (Well, sometimes they do, but you get the point.) Use a dash to exclude things you don’t want to see. A search for “rug –shag” will exclude any shag rugs from your search results.
Decide How Far You’re Willing to Drive – Sometimes when you’re on the hunt for the perfect _______ (fill in the blank) you would drive across the country if you found the one. I’m not necessarily suggesting that, but searching a town or two away might be worth the miles for the right piece and price.
Just treasure hunting? Give this a try:
Search by an Era or Style – If I’m just browsing, I’ll use keywords like, “mid century” or “Danish” just to see what turns up. Using the name of well-known designer for a style you like is another sure bet. When searching under “Eames” I often get a seller describing something as “Eames era” etc. and even if they're not authentic, vintage pieces, sometimes I stumble across treasures I didn't even know to look for!
Search by a Material or Component – Again, you never know what treasures may be hiding behind weird descriptions. Try searching for elements of really great pieces! “Marble,” “velvet,” and “teak” are just a few examples of search terms that are likely to yield high-end treasures. Keep reading for a handy list of key words and terms!
Search in Categories Other Than Furniture – I often peruse the furniture category of craigslist, and granted, while that’s where I have found most of my big wins, I’ve also had great luck poking around the Materials, Household, and General sections. You can also narrow the furniture category if you prefer not to see pieces by dealers.
Look for Potential, Not Perfection – I have often found amazing deals on pieces because they needed some serious TLC. I'm not afraid of investing a little elbow grease or taking a chance on something if the price is right. A great example are these end tables/nightstands that were totally boring and in pretty rough shape when I found them, but were able to be totally transformed!
How to Haggle:
Etiquette – There are some un-written rules of price negotiation. The first is don’t low ball—we all want a great deal, but it can turn a seller off to selling you the item at all if you aim too low in your initial offer. Second rule: agree on the purchase price before you go pick up an item. Unless the condition of something is drastically different than it was described and portrayed in pictures, don’t offer less once you get there—no one likes to be put on the spot. That being said, if an item isn’t quite what you expected once you get there, don’t be afraid to politely back out. Until you hand over the cash, you haven’t purchased the piece and it’s not too late to change your mind if something feels off or was misrepresented. Just don't intentionally be misleading about your commitment to buy--that makes you "that guy."
When to Offer Less – AFTER you have been complimentary! Seriously, don't be aggressive or snotty--the only deal that will get you is an un-answered email. The longer something has been listed, the safer it is to offer less. Just be sure you're getting a deal, not buying crap no one else wanted! If something is nicked, scratched, torn etc and the price does not reflect this, feel free to point out a flaw or two and make your offer. If a seller states "OBO", go ahead make a (still reasonable) offer! On the flip side, if an ad states "non-negotiable" -- please don't try, that's rude and tacky! Lastly, (this is the tricky one!) when you fall in love with a piece that is out of your price range, if handled with utmost respect and honesty, it is okay to explain how much you love the item, state what your max budget is, and ask them to contact you if it doesn't sell and they would consider your offer. Be polite and know that it might not be in the cards, but done graciously, it's okay to ask.
Tried and True Craigslist Search Terms: