10 tips for buying and selling on Kijiji or craigslist

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When you are a homemaker with 4 kids and one talented husband, Kijiji and craigslist are like Holt Renfrew for the poor. When I was pregnant with our fourth I went so far as to joke that he was our Goodwill baby because basically all we got for him was secondhand. Now I have done some smart and let’s just say, “not so smart” things in my purchase/sales history on both craigslist and Kijiji. Over the years, I have had great luck buying and selling a couple of things:

  • bought and sold again a mint Bugaboo Cameleon stroller
  • sold bunk beds and a bassinet
  • bought an infant car seat, high chair, exersaucer, art easel, quartz bathroom vanity top and what else?
  • Dirt. Yes dirt. In fact, it was our first listing ever on both craigslist and Kijiji (listed it for free).

I loosely interchange craigslist and Kijiji because when buying/selling, they are both free classified websites for shopping. If you are going to go to the effort to take photos and write an ad, then you might as well list and search on both because the more exposure (for free) the better. I don’t want to get too in depth on the subject of taking photos for an item other than to say this:

  • take as many photos as you are allowed to show in an ad
  • use the best natural lighting possible (think morning or afternoon sun) even if you have to take it outside and avoid using using a flash
  • get the most attractive angles possible. If the item is damaged in a way that you think the buyer should know, then include a picture of the damage. Just don’t make that your cover photo!
  • make sure the item is clean and looks presentable. Ask yourself after you take the photo: would I want to buy this after looking at this photo?
  • if you are terrible at picture taking, find a stock image from the store it came from (if you can) and list that instead. For example, if you are selling a piece of IKEA furniture, go to their website and save an image of the same item BUT make sure that in your ad description you are very accurate about representing wear and tear. Buyers prefer to see exactly what they are buying before they go to all the effort to come out and have a look for themselves

Personally I gravitate towards Kijiji because I like the interface better; it shows images beside each listing similar to eBay. Kijiji was the site that allowed the seller to enter their postal code so that when you are searching an ad, you can see on the map where the seller is generally located. That comes in handy but will explain more about that below. Craigslist is a bit old school but since it was the first site of its kind, I started off with my first listing there. Their interface does allow you to now select how you want to see the listings and that is a big improvement. They also now show maps. So it is safe to say that they are pretty much on par. Despite which one you prefer, here is what I have learned:

1.  DO Be Patient.

If you want a great deal and you are looking for a very specific thing, you have to be willing to treat the hunt as part of the fun. I have taken my cool time waiting for just the right thing. Our new sofa took a year+, the Bugaboo you see above I got at a great price. Took 6 months of searching at a time when sellers were listing used ones for $700+ (can you imagine?) when they retailed for $1200 new. Too steep in my mind. The price of a car for goodness sake.  So I waited and waited and eventually found a 1 year old one for $450 including the footmuff. New it would have cost me $1500. So don’t be discouraged. Remember that most things you are looking for are wants, not needs, so remember to chill out. Did I need such a fancy stroller? No. Did I want one? Sure. In a nutshell, check often –  daily/weekly/whenever you have the need for retail therapy and don’t mind coming away empty handed. When you finally hit the jackpot, you realize it was worth the wait.

2.  DO Detective Work.

When a postal code is listed on Kijiji with an Ad listing, I sleuth around on Google Maps by clicking the link to open a map. Then I use the Street View to have a voyeur look at exactly the kind of neighbourhood you are buying from. If it looks like an apartment building in the middle of a rough neighbourhood, then I pass on the listing. If it looks like a street that you gotta have money to live on, chances are the person is legit. Also, when you get your first email that show’s the actual buyer or seller’s email address (as opposed to the one generated by Kijiji or craigslist that is encrypted for privacy reasons), google that email to see if it comes up clean or is associated with any scams. One can never be too careful is my motto. I’d rather not make the evening news. For all communication leading up to a purchase or sale, please use an email address that you generally use for spam mail. Avoid your primary email address or one that contains your identity in it.

3.  DO Remember Your Manners.

Let’s ask the basics…. Is it available? Here are some of my usual questions if they are not already stated in the add… (if specs are not included or details such as how old, first owner?, pets? smoke? why selling? etc.) Thank you very much and hope to hear from you soon. Politeness is free and it just might help you get a break on the price if you remember your manners.

4.  DO All Price Negotiations by Email Early and Up Front.

Be honest, and realistic. It cannot hurt to ask  something as simple as:

  • “is the price firm?”
  • “are you willing to accept a little less?”
  • “is there any flexibility in the price?”

The worst the seller can say is NO and not reply to you. Then you move on. Do not wait until you go to the seller’s location to then try and heckle for a better deal. That’s just rude.

5.  DON’T Give Out Your Own address OR Location OR Cell Phone Information (in Your First Email).

You can mention the general vicinity you live in and you can ask how best to make arrangements to see the item or show the item if you are the ones selling. Wait until you have all the information and price details before giving out personal information.

6.  DO Sign Off Inquiries with Both Your Name AND Your Partner (even if you do not have one).

First name only is fine. Just a safety thing for me I guess. Do not want to give the seller the impression that I am alone and vulnerable, like easy prey. Remember, no evening news!

7.  DON’T Be Alone.

Talking of alone and vulnerable, you have agreed to let some stranger in to your home. I say it because this is one of the stupid things I have done in the past. When the person left I thought to myself… how dumb was I? They could have been an axe murderer or a rapist. Seriously! Make sure you arrange a time that you know your significant other or even a friend can be there too. I sold a bassinet and a stroller adaptor to two different men who I emailed back and forth several times and I told my husband they were coming at a time when I knew he would be at work and thought that since he knew about the meeting, I would be safe. How stupid. He could have come home to a puddle of remains! The same goes for buying something if you will be going to a private residence. Public places are better but not always practical if the item is large. Again, I have done this once when I was buying an infant car seat but the correspondence made me feel safe as I was told they had a dog and their son would be sleeping. What if that was a lie? Never again will I do that.

8.  DO Call OR Text When You Arrive.

Whenever I arrive at a seller’s place or someone arrives at our home to look at something we have listed, I ask them to call or text when outside and I do the same. Gives everyone the heads up that the meeting is happening.

9.  DO Send a Final Followup Email.

If it all works out and you buy your treasure or sell you trash, thank the person once again and reiterate how grateful you are to them for selling the item to you. It is just good karma.

10.  DO Tell Everyone About Your Find!

Gloat. Yes. Listen, when you get a great deal, it is such a wonderful feeling. I would not be writing this post if I did not want to share with you how good it feels to find exactly what you are looking for at a dam good price! It really is a win win for everyone, including the landfill.

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