A couple of people have asked how I find such good deals on craigslist. My secret is…I don’t have a secret. No hard and fast rules, but I’ll try to give you some ideas.
Sometimes I just scan the furniture listings without anything in mind. That’s how I found my $35 china cabinet. I wasn’t looking for a china cabinet, but come on, for $35 would you have turned it down?
Sometimes I do have a particular item I’m looking for. In that case, I don't just search that specific category, I search all for sale. Here are some examples of searches I ran when looking for a white slip-covered couch: slip cover couch, slip cover sofa, slipcover couch, slipcover sofa, couch, sofa.
My friend Dixie claims that I have special internet search powers. flickr
I don’t know about that, but you do have to use different keywords and spellings. That’s why I used both ‘couch’ and ‘sofa’, and why I spelled slipcover two different ways. I also did not use the word ‘slip covered’ because the description may have said something like ‘includes slip cover’ rather than ‘couch is slip covered’ . If nothing turned up, then I would just resort to looking through all the listings of couch and sofa in case the seller did not mention the slipcover.
The converse works when you’re listing something on craigslist (or ebay). It would seem sensible to title your listing White Slipcovered Sofa, but then you’re going to miss people who are searching for ‘couch’. So you would title it something like Couch Sofa w/ White Slipcover Slip Cover. Your title is really just made up of search keywords.
My last tip is be patient. Sometimes you'll find exactly what you're looking for right off the bat. Sometimes you won't. Keep checking, every day or even a couple times a day, until you find what you want at a price you want to pay. And don't forget to barter a little bit. My sectional was listed for $350, but Craig got it down to $260.
Adding one more thing: look for misspellings. For ebay there's www.fatfingers.com ; I've used it before. I didn't know if there was something for craigslist, but just did a search and found www.typobuddy.com. Fewer people find misspelled listings, so you might have less competition for an item.
Now, go forth and shop! I hope this helps you find that super deal!
**I clarified a couple things here after getting some great comments--be sure to read the comments as others have some really good tips, too.