2007/01/20

Craigslist and eBay - Twin Pillars of My Economy

"One man's junk is another man's treasure...", is a statement that is perhaps more true now than at anytime in history, and no companies have capitalized on this more adroitly than eBay and Craigslist. I've used these services to sell computers, furniture, services, accessories, music, and electronics. I've made charitable contributions. I've gotten jobs. Hell, I could probably support my extravagant lifestyle for a month just by getting rid of junk on these twin pillars of the new economy, and with that in mind, I've made some observations about these two giants of the 'second-hand marketplace':
  • Unless you're a moron who's addicted to 'reserve pricing', items on eBay will always sell.
  • Items on eBay almost always sell for more than you think they will.
  • You can get more money for your stuff on Craigslist than on eBay, but...
  • ...your stuff will only sell about half of the time.
So what axioms can we derive from these observations? Well...I've distilled it down to two factors:

The eBay Insanity Factor
When they (whoever they are) invented eBay, they tapped into something primal in the human psyche--the desire to compete, auction-style, for treasures. I've watched an item of mine double in price in the last 10 minutes of a auction. I've watched items go for 2 to 3 times what I thought was a low, but decent, price. I can't explain it, but I'll tell you one thing: I don't ever buy on eBay. I only sell cause I don't want to get caught up in what drives these eBay nutballs.

The Craigslist Flake Factor
Craigslist is, to put it mildly, a wacky place. An item at a fair price often finds a buyer, frequently for more than you would get on eBay. But you'll also get: A dozen emails offering to send you a 'same-as-cash' money order if you'll just ship the item to Africa; calls from people who insist on seeing item before buying it and then don't show; calls from people who promise...PROMISE that they'll bring cash and then show up with their checkbook; people who want you to deliver the item; people who offer 1/4 the price...IN CASH--OOOOH! (As if you'd accept anything but cash.) I've even had one woman offer me half the price of a workstation I was selling in cash and sex to cover the remainder.

So...could I live without eBay and Craigslist? Sure, but I wouldn't want to cause, God help me, I love getting rid of stuff and am just glad that my junk's not going into a landfill.

14 Comments:

Craigslist works wonders when you have move in a hurry. You don't get much money but you don't have to move it either.
Hey kvatch....
I know you've seen my post, but its been updated.

Sorry to blog whore, but I thought you might be interested in this.

See my latest post on my site about the death of Barney. At least one more update, maybe two for the full story so you will need to check back a few times to read it all.

Also anyone else who's interested is welcome.

God Bless.
We freecycle a lot of stuff here. I don't have the patience to wait for bids, box up and ship, nor answer all those crazy questions. I'm sure I am missing out on a gold mine though!

I bought my 3 year old a complete dora the explorer house with all the characters and furniture on ebay. No boxes, plastic ties or other crap going into the landfill, a fraction of the cost new, and my daughter never knew the difference. We also buy used clothing at consignment stores quite a bit. I love cutting out the corporate whores.
When I think of the money I spent on Ebay for Intellivision games, consoles, and misc. stuff. . .I'm talking second-hand car purchase money here. Luckily I already have almost anything I would ever want now in that category. . .(whew)
i have only used ebay.

i have heard good things about craigslist. I could be mixing up stories but I thought i heard the owner of the site refused a buy-out. confused the hell out of wall street
Deb... I've had calls literally 10 minutes after postings on Craigslist. It's spooky. Sometimes I think that people monitor it just looking for stuff to buy.

AnonP... I'll be right over.

Pam... I'm so glad that you had good buying experience on eBay. I just can't do it. To much frustration in the bidding process for me, not to mention the fear of overpaying.
John...s'probaby a good thing. I know someone who told me they spend about $600 a month on eBay. Unreal!

Graeme, I think eBay owns a minority share in Craigslist, purchased from a former employee. The formal agreement allows them to share technology, but eBay has no say in how Craigslist operates.
I used to sell on eBay too, the less said about my fiasco there the better. My ex is always telling me I should check out Craig's List anted to buy, but for some reason, I never do.
I think you nailed it on the eBay thing. The excitement of the auction is just flat-out fun. Years ago, Hubby & I used to go to an antique furniture auction every other Thursday night. Sometimes, you could walk away with a GREAT piece at a decent price. Other times, you could watch a novice get HOSED.
Nice three column style Kvatch,

I usuually use Criagslist for free things - I got a piano that way, believe it or not. Nice fit in our flat.

Ebay is better for selling.
I couldn't live without 3 columns. Its great dude!
This is just a "I heard it while in the grocery store" thing, but I understand there's now a "treatment program" for Ebay and Craigslist junkies. Sort of a "Hi! I'm TUA and I'm addicted to Ebay" thing, I guess.

I do know a lady that makes a very respectable income, buying and selling (and reselling) on Ebay. That has to take some talent. Buying somebody else's junk on Ebay, then reselling it for a profit?:) I've used it a few times, mostly from "buy now" sellers, as their prices were often lower than even what I could find on the web.
Lew... I'm surprised you had a bad experience. I've sold a lot of stuff on eBay and never had a problem.

Old Broad, I know what you're talking. That's why I have to stay out of the buying side of eBay. Too much risk of getting attached to something.

WS...a piano?! I've given away stuff on Craigslist, but nothing like that.
Dusty, WS... Thanks for the compliments on the 3-column stuff. Look any different now that it's up? I've abandoned trying to keep the fonts all one size and am letting 'em scale to your browser settings. Usually this means they look bigger. What do you think?

TFWY... I can believe that there's treatment for 'eBayitis'. I can get you in a lot of trouble.

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