Decluttering with Craigslist, Part 1

One way to easily rid yourself of stuff, especially “good stuff” is to give it away on Craigslist.org.

Craigslist is a classifieds website that has a section where you can give stuff away for free.  You list it, and people will come over and take it away.

Some people are craigslist scavengers and will show up quickly to take valuable freebies. They refresh their mobile phone all day, waiting for goodies.

(I have tried this. It didn’t work for me, but, I did figure out that I could get some nice stuff if I went to a different part of Los Angeles in the morning.)

What are popular things to give away?  Here are the top 11 things listed, based on counting from the first hundred or so posts in the FREE section in my city.

couch 14
rocks or dirt or broken concrete 8
some kind of cabinet 6
chair 6
mattress or bed 6
cardboard boxes 5
some kind of plant 5
scrap or other wood 5
door 3
refrigerator 3
table 3

Note that these are not necessarily the most popular items to give away, because items popular with scavengers are picked up and their listings are removed from the site.

Cardboard boxes, for example, go *fast*. I mean, if you list it correctly, you can have them gone in a day.

How to Make an Effective CL Ad to Give Things Away

  1. Photos. It doesn’t have to be a great photo, but it should have a photo.  A photo avoids the hassles of dealing with “customers” asking questions.
  2. A fairly complete description. Include the brand name, the size, the model number if you know it. Put this info into the title, if possible.
  3. Consider putting the item out on the curb, and doing a “curb alert” or just telling the reader to pick it from the curb, and send a message to you so you can remove the listing. If the ad is up, it means the item is still available.  Put that into your ad, so the scavengers know. This is my favorite way to give away.
  4. Batching: if you have a LOT to give away, batch a lot of similar items together first. Then, when you list, you’ll have a lot more “customers” willing to come over and take it all.  This is what people do with cardboard boxes.  They gather a dozen or more boxes, and then list.
  5. Webcam: if you have an internet webcam, point it at the junk pile you’re giving away, and then inform the reader that there’s a cam on the freebies. Set the camera to upload images to a web server every 5 minutes. Put the URL right into the ad.

Keeping Peace with the Neighbors

Some people don’t like sidewalk giveaways, at all. They will be a problem.

The easiest way to deal with them is to put the junk into a box, and put that out. Then, they can’t see the stuff.

Maybe you can move the box closer to your door. There is some risk with this, of course.

If you have a porch, do the giveaway on the porch.

Dealing with Flakes

People getting free stuff are notoriously flaky. They say they want it, but don’t show up. Here are some ways to deal with this:

  1. Curb Alert – put it out on the curb like tip 3 above. Specify that they should not bother the tenant or you. Even if it’s just you, consider calling yourself a tenant, so they are more afraid to bother you.
  2. List it for $5 or $2 in some other category.  These ultra-low prices are just like giving things away, but in a way that weeds out scavengers.  You will need to confirm with people over email – and in the email, you can even tell them that they may leave the money in your mailbox. This way, you don’t need to even meet them, if you are a shy person.
  3. List in the evening. Fewer people are at work, and the world divides itself into people taking a break, and people looking for a deal.

I  hope all this info has helped.  Keep on decluttering, and de-hoarding.

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