Your online yard sale: Craigslist.org

In tough economic times, people tend to buy second-hand in order to save money. While you could spend your Saturday morning rushing from yard sale to yard sale, trying to pick up the best items before they’re sold to someone else, a better option might be Craigslist. With Craigslist, you can search local listings of items for sale, contact the sellers via email or phone to haggle over price and pickup time and location, and buy your item without foraging through bins of items at yard sales. 
 
How it works: Head over to
http://houston.craigslist.org. Once there, you’ll see category listings of items for sale just as you would in your local newspaper. You can click on a category and browse through listings in that area, or if you’re looking for something specific you can type some search terms in the search box on the left. Either way, you’ll find a list of items for sale sorted by date, with the most recently posted items at the top of the list. The search results page will give you basic information about the items for sale: what the item is, how much the seller wants for it, and where the seller is located. From there, you can click on any item to get more information – usually a more detailed description and sometime pictures of the item. 

Once you’ve found something of interest, try contacting the seller. There will either be a link to email the seller, or the seller will provide a phone number in the description of the item.
 
Tips and Tricks:

  • Be ready to buy when you go look at an item. Bring cash to pay for the item (wise sellers will not take checks) and if it is a large item make sure you come prepared to take it home with you. Savvy sellers will not hold an item for you if you say you will come back to get it – they will sell it to the first person with cash in hand.
  • Don’t feel pressured to buy if you have second thoughts after looking at an item. If you think something isn’t quite as described in the posting or if after looking you decide that it just isn’t quite what you wanted, you can always tell the seller you’re not interested.
  • Negotiate the price. Sellers post their prices knowing that the savvy shopper will try to negotiate the price down. Point out any flaws (scratches, dents, etc.) and ask if the seller will take a lower price.
  • Subscribe to the RSS feed. If you use a RSS feed reader, you can get instantly updated whenever new postings appear that match your search terms. Not familiar with RSS feeds? Check out the iHCPL posting on RSS feeds for a brief rundown on RSS.  Have items you'd like to sell on Craigslist? Check back later this week for info on selling your items on Craigslist.
Happy (and thrifty!) shopping!