How To Lose At Craigslist While Really Trying


Purchase a beautiful, unique and expensive piece of furniture that you know you will love FOREVER. One year later when you move out of your postage-stamp-sized apartment into an even smaller one, realize it’s far too big and, if brought to the new space, would require you to mount and climb over it in order to even squeeze through the door. Debate the advantages of this encouraging you to lose 20 pounds to fit in your room and leading to a toned ass from the climb (this coupled with the sixth floor walk up will save you big Ds on your gym membership). However, the rational part of you…or your roommate…will insist you part with your treasure.

The first step is to capture the exquisiteness of your item in a still photo. Channel your inner Annie Leibovitz and survey your space for the best lighting and background. Artfully frame your furniture in the shot. Most importantly, make sure to avoid including glimpses of your crusty apartment in the background of these images. Your potential buyer will not want to know that you use your dresser as a surrogate bar or that you haven’t changed your sheets nor made your bed in four weeks. Or, you know, just snap a photo with your iPhone of the dresser where it is.

Next, you will need to compose a description of the piece. This is where your priceless liberal arts degree will really come in handy. Avoid adjectives. Avoid complete sentences. Cut to the chase. Facts and figures only.

Finally, it’s time to pretend you’re on Antiques Roadshow and appraise your item. Hopefully, for your mind’s ease, you won’t remember the exact figure you paid. If you do, half it. If you don’t, take a survey of all the damage you’ve put your item through. Take off $100 for the time you spilled nail polish on the top and removed a huge circle of varnish. Take off $50 for the scratches from the keys, coins, and hairbrushes that have treated the delicate wood like sandpaper. Take off another $25 for good measure.

Endure 3 separate captchas, an e-mail, and phone confirmation from Craiglist and finally you’re ready to post!

Squeal with joy as your inbox fills mere minutes after your post appears. Think to yourself, “wow, this was so easy!” Unfortunately, the e-mail will be from either a journalist “away on assignment,” a deaf woman, or a Nigerian with an appreciation for the finer things in America. They will all have one thing in common, though. They will all want to pay with a cashier’s check. The cashier’s check is the three-card monte of Craigslist. I once had a kind “woman” from Botswana offer to pay $485 to ship my four-year-old beat up MacBook to Somalia via cashier’s check. My advanced deduction skills told me something seemed fishy there.

It will be very tempting to let your mind dream of the ease of selling your piece so quickly. Indeed, many before you have fallen for this quick fix when they were in a pinch. But, stay strong, the deaf woman won’t feel bad for you when she’s cashing your check and buying a Ferrari. I can promise you she won’t be buying new hearing aids with that money. Shatter the dreams of your new Nigerian friend and hope that he has better luck convincing the citizens of Gmail he’s a prince.

After three days with no answers from anyone with legitimate interest, decide it’s time to half your asking price. Eventually, your inbox will flood with e-mails from weird addresses. You’ll learn that people still use AOL. You will meet xxCUTIE69xx. I find it best not to question whether you and she have the same design taste nor wonder what she will do with your dresser. You will begin to participate in 40 email long threads discussing potential times to show the item and minor specifications about the piece that you never even considered. I hope you have your tape measure ready!! You’ll re-arrange your entire schedule just to show the piece only to have the “customer” never show up nor call to explain why. Aside from the painful flashbacks to the time you got stood up at TGIFridays on your very first date, you and your furniture will have to pull together and not let this shatter your self-esteem. Someone will want you!

When your buzzer finally blares with your first real interested party coming to look at the item, prepare a baseball bat or crow bar beside the door in case the “customer” is actually the Craigslist killer who is interested in your pink paisley print ottoman. Serial killers can like pink too.

The visitor will enter your apartment and, although unasked, will comment on its size, décor, and relative state of cleanliness. The people who come will be varied. One will be an obnoxious woman from Long Island who will call your dresser, apartment, and probably yourself as well a piece of crap. One will be an attractive young man who you will want to buy your kitchen table, if you know what I mean. These acquaintances will tease your heartstrings, giving you the impression that you’re on the verge of a sale, but, don’t get your hopes up, they will never e-mail you back.

Six days later, with your move hours away, change the headline of your post to “I will PAY YOU to take this.“

No one will respond.

Pour yourself a glass of whiskey and leave your dresser on the street.

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