Thursday, June 26, 2014

My Craigslist Angel (and a few more)

So far, my experiences with selling nearly all of my worldly possessions on Craigslist have been better than expected.  In the past few weeks, I’ve sold 16 items for a net total just of over $3,000 in cash!  Now, mind you, I’m not thinking about how much I actually paid for all these items new—much too depressing to go there!   What I’ve not anticipated, though, is how interesting and varied each and every buyer has been.  

My very first sales transaction is this Thule bike rack, sold (after just one day!) to a guy named Lou with a long, unpronounceable last name who is driving out from the city to get it.

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My mind races with thoughts of all those well-worn Craigslist horror stories—He could be a mad rapist!  A burglar! A serial killer!!! 

At the appointed time, a pickup truck slowly backs into my driveway and out hops a very muscular, gregarious young man with a winning smile.  Lou turns out to be a Chicago cop who lives in his parents’ basement and likes to be frugal and buy used stuff on Craiglist (rather than his girlfriend who apparently likes to spend like a Hilton debutant)!

I quickly learn that quite a bit of personal history gets shared in these brief 10 minute Craigslist sales interactions.  Budding soap opera writers would have no difficulty finding plenty of new characters and story-lines to develop with just a few Craigslist purchases! 

The next few weeks see a steady parade of more varied and interesting people arriving to my driveway to exchange their wad of greenbacks for newfound treasures.  

The owner of an auto repair shop, sends one of his guys up “driving the boss’ Cadillac” to pick up the Winegard satellite dish.   The salsa business entrepreneur buys the hitch-mounted cargo carrier (it will carry a handcart and other non-food tools so that the van can now carry more salsa)! 

The Boy Scout Den Mother comes to collect an inflatable kayak that the troop will use for next weekend’s Jamboree.

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No less than 10 people bombard my Inbox to bid on the Weber BBQ Grill (which I’ve apparently priced lower than any of the others for sale that weekend….oops!).  But it sells the next day when a lady sends her grown son and his business partner to pick it up, and the comical guys bicker and bumble with each other like Laurel and Hardy trying to figure out how best to tie it down for the ride home!

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Lots of new parents gravitate towards the tent camping gear.  One young dad buys the Lodge Dutch Oven cookset with his Father’s Day gift money and can’t wait to try cooking up a family meal at their next campout. 

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A mom (with the cutest 10-month-old baby I’ve ever seen) comes to buy the tent and camping pots/pans. 

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He lets out a giant smile (consisting of only his 2 bottom teeth!) when Mom says they’ll be taking him on his first camping trip this summer.  So wonderful to see younger generations  as passionate about the great outdoors as us older folks!

Many other buyers have been equally interesting (one even a new Facebook friend!),  but none more incredible than my two buyers last Friday, Angel and Wally.

Angel originally sends me one-sentence emails that make me feel certain that it is some kind of a hoax.  The first email starts out innocently enough:  “May I get the information to buy and pick up the kayak?”  

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I provide a brief reply to which he responds: “I live 30 miles away, is there any way for you to ship it to my address?”  Ok, this guy is a con-man or absolutely crazy—the kayak weighs 35 lbs!  I respond practically telling him that, but offer to meet him halfway if that makes him feel better.  He then replies (one sentence only) “Where & when would you like to meet up?”

Wow, I wasn’t expecting that response!  So now what?  I discuss the situation with a few friends, (including one who lives with a police officer).  If this guy is a con-man, I give Angel a nearly impossible combination of demands-- meet me at the McDonald’s parking lot (just down the street from the police station!) at 11 a.m. tomorrow (when hardly any working person would be available!), and to bring cash only.  He responds with short, curious email:  “That would be fine. Thank You” 

Huh?  No request for my phone number.  Not even a question to ask what car I’ll be driving! This is an exceedingly odd transaction (or scam) in the making.  I decide not to volunteer any personal identification information at all to this guy until we’re both at the McDonald’s.

A few minutes before I get there, Angel emails saying “We’ve arrived”  I tell him to look for my yellow car and I’ll be there soon.  When I arrive, though, I see no one standing around in the lot looking for me.  I finally send Angel another email asking if he’s inside.  He responds with just one word!  “Yes”.   Ok , strange—where the heck IS this guy???

I start typing a reply as I’m standing behind my car when another yellow car rolls into the parking lot with it’s windows down.  “Are you Lynne?”  the boy in the passenger seat asks.

It turns out that boy is Angel and he’s 12 years old, and speaks and writes perfect English.  His driver, on the other hand, speaks nothing but Spanish.  I fail to catch exact what their relationship is or what the driver’s name is, but he appears to be in his 20’s and is the one who is actually the potential kayak buyer.  Angel is merely “the communicator.”

They spend about 3 minutes looking at the kayak accessories (and don’t ask to look at the actual kayak itself still in its bag).  Angel then says they need a minute to go talk at their car.  They return and Angel says “He wants to buy the kayak, but he only has ($100 less than I’m asking)”  I start to worry that some scam is about to begin, so tell them I’m sorry but the price is firm.

Just as I’m about to close the rear door of the Tracker, another $100 in cash suddenly appears.  They hand me the full amount (all in $20’s) and this is one time I decide I’d better count it fully before they leave!  But, it turns out to seem legitimate. The mystery man, with his Angel sidekick, speeds off out of the McDonald’s parking lot with his new kayak, while I drive home just shaking my head in amazement that the unlikely sale has actually just happened!

But no rest for a weary Craigslist seller!!!  My final buyer of the day, Wally, will be arriving within the hour to look at the electric bike:

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Wally arrives on time and hops out of his van before his passenger does.  We start chatting and walking up the driveway to look at the bike.  A few minutes later, his passenger comes to introduce himself: “Hello, I’m Wally’s brother, Andy!”

His voice is as instantly distinctive as his smile.  “Andy from Echo Power Equipment?” I ask.  Yes, indeed!  The brother of my Craigslist buyer is none other than a guy I worked with for nearly a decade some 20 years ago!!  How small of a small world is that?!!!

Andy and I hug and try to condense 20 years of history into 2-minute sound bites.  Meanwhile, poor Wally waits patiently so he can simply buy his new e-bike!

What a bizarre and wonderful ending to an incredibly “celestial” day of Craigslisting!

14 comments:

  1. Sure sounds better than a garage sale!

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    1. Well I'm sure the garage sale will be entertaining too, but a lot more work for a lot less dough!

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  2. You had some great gear there for sale!! I was admiring both the kayaks, I have considered an inflatable, but was wondering if they are stable enough!

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    1. Surprisingly, inflatables are more stable on the water than hard-hulled boats. I used to paddle lightweight kevlar canoes-- they were fast and nimble, but also extremely "tippy". Millie would never go paddling with me (nor would I let her) because of that. But the Sea Eagle FastTrack with it's very firm floor and rugged material is just a durable as the canoes were, but practically impossible to tip over. It's a great boat for taking dogs, kids, etc and not worrying about swamping!

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  3. Replies
    1. Yeah, it's been great fun meeting all these different folks!

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  4. It just proves the fact that 99.9% of the people out there are good citizens.
    Good luck with the sale!

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  5. Last year I posted Mexican, Haitian and Outsider folkart on the blog. I sold a ton of stuff! Those who were buyers from the USA paid 50% down and then sent the balance when I produced an estimate of the cost to ship UPS. They paid that and the balance. It was such a smooth deal.
    Your times sound like more fun. PRE sales always make more money. Now I'm thinking of posting some stuff on Craigslist down here. Never even thought of that! Thanks.

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    1. Wow, I guess Craigslist is everywhere now-- didn't realize it was in Mexico too, but sure makes a lot of sense!

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  6. That's great. I have sold trailers on Craig's List and they went really fast.

    My friends have the inflatable kayak's and love them. When you have so little storage they work well in that area too.
    Hope you get rid of lots more things that way the money will help a lot.

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  7. Great post, love the stories. Good to hear you are making progress.

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  8. I think if you have items that are worth some money, it makes sense to Craig's List them before a garage sale, or in my case an estate sale. I did the same thing. My best and favorite things went first that way. But I didn't want the hassles of a garage sale, and living in a condo made it harder to sell off everything that way so the estate sale worked well for me. No matter how it's done, it's a hassle, but a necessary one. Such a feeling of freedom when it's all done and you're driving away for the first time so much lighter. I hope that will be soon for you. :)

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  9. Hope you have good luck putting it all together. It took me two years to finally get through the process. But, it was sure worth it in the end.

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