Thursday, September 17, 2009

Craigslist Junkie

A month or so ago, we bought an expensive mattress and springs. Today on Craigslist, in the Free section, I have so far counted listings for three queen mattress sets, one twin set and one twin springs, and one unspecified set that is probably a full size. That’s a lot of free mattresses on a weekday, and the night is young.

The homemade pictures look okay. Out of five mattress sets, probably at least one is quite acceptable and has substantial life left in it. And these are just the free ones. Over in the Household section, somebody wants $750 for a king size mattress only. I don’t think he’ll get it, but you never know. Somebody else is selling a twin mattress, springs, and frame for $60. Now that’s more like it. Another person is selling a twin mattress only, for $25. The deals keep on coming.

Yes, I have become a Craigslist junkie. This is my latest Internet addiction, and it’s totally free. I check to see what people are selling and giving away. Luckily for me, I live so far from where all this personal retail activity is taking place that it is not practical for me to rush out and get one of these deals. Gas costs too much. But I can see what fun it would be to be a young man out to furnish a new apartment cheap with his buddies: All they need is a truck or van, some rope and old blankets, and their healthy young backs. They can totally get everything free. There are so many free couches and recliners that no self-respecting young person should even consider buying one. Free TVs. Free bedding. Free dishes and kitchen implements. Free everything. Makes me want to hop in the car and start collecting things.

There even are dirt cheap recycled wedding gifts floating around, in case one is invited to events. “Unopened, in original box” is a common theme in the descriptions. From the photos, it looks as if Mikasa, Lennox, and other well-known manufacturers are creating these items—overdone vases, serving bowls, large decorative platters, and more hideous stuff—just for the wedding gift crowd. Which apparently does not like them. So why buy one on Craigslist? Because they are decorative, they are giftlike, and you can get them at a fraction of retail. Just be careful to know the true retail price (after sales events and discounts) of these items. It often is substantially less than what the Craigslister claims. Also, a lot of glassware is described as crystal on Craigslist. Dream on, ignorant ones.

The real crystal and objects d’art in the Antiques and Collectibles sections do tempt me, and their prices are often substantial, though fair. But then I remember that I have nowhere to put anything new—first, I’d have to buy one of those handsome china cabinets that are also on the list. There’s a time in life for acquiring, and a time for reducing the load. Right now I am edging into the second period. The serious one, not mere de-cluttering but giving away or selling or otherwise getting rid of high-quality belongings. Downsizing for real. I’m not quite there yet. Meanwhile, I get a lot of fun out of seeing everyone else either at the beginning or at the end of the same cycle. The Recycle of Life, if you will.

9 comments:

EilisFlynn said...

I have a basic distrust of craigslist for no good reason, so it's just as well. But I too am starting to get rid of stuff. It feels good, actually. But on occasion I find myself wondering what the heck I did with that thing ...

Anonymous said...

Say no to free bedding. We are having a resurgence in bedbugs in New York.

rtbinc said...

I wouldn't do anything upholstered from Craigslist. For other furniture one idea is to isolate something, as in wrapped in plastic in a nearly airtight way, for a few weeks. That would allow most buggies to die off. Hard goods, plates, pots, etc, that can be cleaned I don't have an issue with. Clothing can be washed in very hot water which will kill most stuff.

Free usually isn't free

Hopeful Lily said...

When we moved into our previous house, we found that the prior owners had left a queen spring outside on the grass for the trash pickup. It had been outside only that day, but there was plenty of wildlife around that could have infested it. And they had a dog, too.

I took it back into the house, bought a mattress to match it, and for 15 years had a guest bed. No problems.

Many of the Craigslist posters claim that their mattresses have been in a pet-free, smoke-free home. I'm inclined to believe that some of these items would be fine.

rtbinc said...

It's not just the likelihood of an issue, it is also the severity of the issue that matters. Once you have bedbugs they are a nightmare to get rid off. Think of it this way, most deer get across the road safely, but you only get to fail once.

Hopeful Lily said...

I just read up on bedbugs and I can see why you're concerned.

However, it is alarmist to assume that all people who put mattresses or upholstered furniture on Craigslist have bedbug infestations.

scottedelman said...

I'm not sure that deer/bedbug analogy works, since if you were to treat deer the same way you consider bedbugs, you'd never drive, right?

rtbinc said...

Lily -- It's actually an issue of information. You can't know ahead of time if a piece of furniture has bedbugs in it. So what do you do if you don't have the information you need and only have a probability. What is the risk worth to you? This is the exactly same question as the exotic financial products asked. If you don't know what the quality of the underlying mortgages are how much is the bond worth? One you risk money the other you risk your hide. Oh Sorry! you risk your hide both ways. My bad.

Scottedelman -- The analogy is from the deer's perspective. So it's not if I'd drive it's if I would cross the road. (there is a joke in here that is snickering at me but won't come out). So the question becomes what is what is the worth of what is on the other side of the road. If I was a deer I'd be dead by now. I've never been real good at thinking first then acting.

Hopeful Lily said...

Somehow to me this feels like one of those "beware of strangers" issues. I was brought up on that, and I'm pretty darn cautious as a result. But there are other people in the world who don't feel this way. They don't automatically draw back from strangers (even when maybe they should). Or from strangers' cooties.

I know someone who won't borrow a book from the public library for fear of germs, and I think that's taking caution way too far.