Craigslist: FREE!

There’s an ever-present, but oft-neglected section of Craigslist called “free.”  (As in zero dollars.)    While it is housed under the “for sale” section, it’s like its own little planet, with its own language, patterns, and rules (well, not really rules, maybe… caveats?  terms? conditions?).  So, a little 411 on this Craigslist feature can definitely help you navigate the sometimes murky waters (I’ve used two different metaphors in the last two sentences — it’s hard to say if my language arts teachers of the past would be scratching their heads in confusion or patting me on the back in congratulations… hmmm…..).

Whut up, list?!!

  • As with all features of Craigslist, you can subscribe to the RSS feed, specifically a search that you may have run.  For example, if you really need some extra lumber that might be leftover from someone’s project, you can go to Craigslist, search scrap lumber or wood (or whatever smart thing you come up with), subscribe to the search results (the yellow RSS logo is in the lower right hand corner of the screen), and you’ll be notified instantly when something becomes available.
  • The free section is frequented by people who have just finished projects and have leftover materials, people who recently had a garage sale and don’t feel like driving to Goodwill to get rid of the last vestiges of their crap, or people who just don’t want to take the time to deal with a potential seller.  This means that the free section runs a wide gamut, having everything from leftover paint to barely used furniture and electronics.
  • Because of the last minute, loosey goosey nature of the “free” section, most people will not take the time to photograph their item or items and they certainly won’t be delivering to you.  In fact, some people don’t even list their e-mail or phone number; instead, they just give some cross streets and a city, announce a “curb alert,” and do exactly that: place their items on the street curb in hopes that they’ll be picked up before the trash truck comes.  This means that things on the free section are not meant to be mulled over.  If you think you might want something, go and get it (especially before it’s snatched up by someone else).  It’s definitely first come, first serve, and in my experience, most former owners of this free stuff aren’t going to swear some allegiance to the first person who called them about the item.  They just want to get rid of it, and it goes to whoever gets there first.
  • Considering the reasons that most people use the free section, the best time to search is on weekends — especially mornings.  That is, if you have opted out of subscribing to the RSS feed (but you really should just subscribe).

And for your reading pleasure, one of my favorite features of Craigslist, the Best of Craigslist.  If you’ve never checked out this section before, do it now!  It is a user-driven round-up of links to real Craigslist postings that are at times hilarious, bizarre, confusing… but always entertaining.

Check back tomorrow for the continuation of that Wedding series thang… :)

Previous Posts in the Craigslist Series:

Selling

Buying

Job Hunting

Apartment Hunting

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2 thoughts on “Craigslist: FREE!

  1. Yay free stuff! I actually got my couch on the craigslist free section a few years ago. The upholstery was ratty and torn, but it already had a nice slipcover on it and was one of the most comfortable couches I’ve sat on. We’re going to upgrade when we move and it will probably once again go on the free section.

  2. We love our cl free section… but you are right. You’ve gotta be lightening fast to be the first one on the scene. I have actually found things i was looking for in the past by posting an add in wanted section too.

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