Every night I sleep on what use to be someone else’s bed, almost every day I sit at what use to be someone else’s table and at least once a week I water my plant on what use to be someone else’s console. Who am I?
According to Kijiji, Canada’s most popular online classified advertising service, I am one of the over 13 million Canadians who have used online platforms in 2016 for second-hand transactions. Online classifieds has become my preferred channel for furniture acquisitions. Unlike Ebay and Etsy, sites like Craigslist, Kijiji and Freecycle are organized regionally and can yield some surprising deals.
Below I’ve shared 7 helpful tips for those searching online classifieds for great furniture scores.
1. The Search: Know what you’re looking for. Search often, even multiple times a day or in the week. Use multiple keywords in your search. Don’t overlook the “Free” section. And, to keep track of the items you’re interested in, utilize the Bookmark features – on Craigslist it’s the star symbol and on Kijiji, it’s the heart symbol. Bookmarking also allows you to watch and wait for pieces like you would on an online bidding site. If the piece hasn’t sold in a few days or weeks, you may be in a stronger negotiating position with the seller.
2. The Find: Photos are a must, the more the better. Know the value of the item(s) you’re looking for and set a price range for yourself. Where required, make sure you measure the space in which your second-hand furniture piece will go and ensure it will fit through any narrow hallways, tight corners or staircases. See the potential in pieces, for instance, a chair with a solid wood frame and good bones but with 80s pastel fabric, can be reupholstered. Or a console table with damaged veneer can be sanded and restained or painted.
3. The Contact: If not stated in the ad, ask the seller if their home has pets or smokers. Upholstery fabric can absorb odours from pets and smoke in addition to trapping pet hair and dander. Ask any detailed questions you may have that were left out of ad, such as measurements, material and condition.
4. The Deal. The best time to bargain is on your initial contact with the seller, don’t be afraid to negotiate. Most sellers will only deal in cash, so have it ready. I once offered a seller a $30 dollars more to deliver. That worked out well since the seller also had a retail location and was accustomed to deliveries.
5. The Don’ts: Scam artists are no strangers to online classifieds so take precaution when buying. Never send money in advance. Don’t email or wire transfer any money. Never give out financial info. Golden rule: Conduct all transactions in person.
6. The Pickup: Walk with seller’s address and number handy. Google map your location if necessary. Note the condition of the seller’s home, any signs of pests or mold and you may want to back away slowly. Do a proverbial “kicking of the tires” to check the condition of the furniture. If you need to rent a vehicle to transport your item home, make arrangements ahead of time. Alternatively, you can call a taxi or ask for a taxi van with fold-down seats if necessary.
7. The Safety Rules: I wish I could remember the stand-up comic who said something to the effect of, “online classified transactions are the only activity where both participants meet thinking that the other is a would-be serial killer.” So true. Use the buddy system or let someone know where you’re going are the best practices. Trust your instincts too.
Whether it’s to save some money, search for a hard to find items or practice environmental mindfulness, online classifieds are a great way to lead you to great second-hand furniture finds. Follow a few tips to make your experience successful.
Do you have any other online classified furniture shopping tips that you’d like to share?