Shopping Tips for Craigslist

Craigslist is a goldmine for unique finds. But...if you don’t make an offer as soon as you see the item, you will not get it! Lots and lots of people in your area do nothing but peruse all of the categories in the “for sale” column. And they get right on top of the purchasing process because they know that if they don’t, they will miss out! There are a few ideas that can help you purchase that item quicker and not have to miss out!

Increase your odds at getting the things that you are looking for by searching Craigslist all the time. If you only look once a day, most popular items will have already sold. New items come up as soon as they are posted. There is no juried waiting for approval tank on craigslist. Someone lists and as soon as they put their information into the page, they just hit “post” and there it is. You want to be the first person in line when they hit that button. One way you can do that is to “Search” for a specific item and then “Save” that search. There is a little button on the right side of the search bar that says “save this search”. Hit that button and it will take you to another page where you can check another box that says “alert” and and Craigslist will notify you in an email when there are any additions or changes to your search subject. There is also a Craigslist app that you can download that will also give you the same notifications.

When you are searching for something, make sure that you are looking for it specifically. Looking for a couch is great, but when you put it in the search bar, you are going to get 100 different listings. If you want to buy a “green couch”, that search selection goes down to 2 or 3. Also, look for variations of the word couch such as sofa, sleeper, chaise and loveseat. Craigslist also offers results from nearby areas outside of the location that you are searching.

Searching Keywords on Craigslist is essential no matter what category you are looking in. When you go to the category without the keyword, you will get a general overview, not everything that is listed in the section. The Keywords let you narrow down searches to just the specific items that you want. You can be very directed in your search by putting in the type of item like a lamp or a chair. Then add the brand of the item that you are looking for such as Tiffany or Hitchcock-Butterfield. Put in the style of the item like Modern or Shabby Chic. Perhaps you want to add the period of time which could be Mid-Century or Arts and Crafts. And finally, what is the material that you are looking for. Is it Metal, wood or leather.

Now, you will need your Thesaurus and look for Synonyms. For all of the words that you are using to search for types, styles and materials, there are words that mean nearly the same that someone may have used in their description of the item they are selling. If you are looking for a blue chair, use the words cobalt, navy, powder and royal. Mix that with rocker, bench, seat and settee. Add another dose with the brand names and you have a very good recipe for finding exactly what you are looking for. Synonyms are fun in that there are so many alternate names for everyday things. You never know how someone will describe their item when you think of it in a completely different way.

Sometimes your phone or your spell check app won’t cooperate. Well, that goes for the person who is listing the item for sale. In your search bar, look for your items, but look for them using misspelled words! People can get so eager to hit the “post” button, that they never check for incorrectly spelled words even though they are the main word. The word chair could be shair, chare or chire. If they used these misspelled words, they won’t show up in your keyword searches, so you will have to use the misspelled words instead. Look for reversed letters, missing spaces and phonetic spellings.

Each part of our country has special words we use for particular items. A grocery cart is a cart in the north and a buggy in the south. In your item search, use keywords that are used regionally. A local will list that item using the words they know best. A couch could be a davenport or a davie. A dining room table can be a bench, a  buffet and a bar. Again, research synonyms or local brand names or colloquial terms.

A Pipe Key on your keyboard can help in your search to make the search more effective. Searching for one individual type of item at a time is fun but, you will want to get to the job of purchasing as soon as possible. The pipe key | is the same as the word “or”. If you are looking for a couch and you want a coffee table to go with it,  put into your search bar “couch | coffee table”. You will get results for both items. A hyphen lets you fine tune your search so that you don’t have to look at every item in a category. If you are looking for a vase, you can enter “vase - vintage”. It will get rid of all of the other vases that are listed and only give you the kind you want. And then there are quotation marks. Use these on either side of your search words and you will get the exact phrase.

Don’t restrict your search to just the city you live in. Even though Craigslist is organized by cities in your state, there are other cities that are near you that you should search in and may need to travel a bit to pick up. If you are looking for something that is shippable, sometimes people are willing to package up an item and send it to you if you pay for the shipping cost. Search several sites at the same time. You can search your entire state by going to the site Using the drop down menu, you can search all states or just one, all categories or just one. There are advanced options for you to look by price, city and phrases.

Craigslist is a vast territory for looking for items that are rare, strange and interesting. It is also great place to find exactly what you want for the exact right price, if you know exactly how!

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