So the other day I wrote how an old lady scammed me by overcharging me for some ratty old t-shirts. I was annoyed, but I vented on the blog and moved on. I didn’t seek revenge or egg her house. I was over it but wouldn’t you know things have a way of working themselves out. Karma is cool. Read on. Eventually I do get to the point.
The same week I was searching for boy clothes, I decided that I needed to majorly thin out my perennials. As luck would have it, I got an email from one of my favorite Community activist groups, The Alchemy Initiative. They were starting a community garden in the center of town. I don’t know quite how to describe them. They call themselves the intentional living laboratory and they are constantly doing something that makes this town a better place to live. They put on art shows for community artists, hold all kinds of arts+crafts workshops, they may have even done a clothing swap or two. The link will take you to their garden page and they even wrote about me..how sweet. Anyway, I dug up a car load of plants for their urban garden and I was thrilled to finally be able to help in a small way.
Despite the carload of plants, I still had loads more to thin, so I decided to put a Free Ad on Craig’s list to get rid of the rest.
How to Put a Free Ad in Craigslist
Craigslist is the absolute easiest place to place ads. It literally takes a minute to post an ad and that’s all I spent on mine. I should have spent at least 2. Here’s what I learned.
- People Love Free Stuff especially things like perennials which get expensive. If you post an ad like that, expect an overwhelming response.
- When you put your phone number down, mix up the format a little. I always do 112..345xxx6789. That makes it more difficult for web crawlers to find it.
- Make sure you put “First Come First Serve.” I forgot to do this. I had people who were trying to make appointments to come at times that were convenient for them but didn’t work for me. I had to turn most of them away. I even had someone ask me to call them in a week to set up a convenient meeting time for them. I’m not your secretary dude. You have to expect some people to be socially awkward. So be ready to set the ground rules and push back.
- Don’t change your plans for someone + Expect No Shows. I actually had someone beg me to come a specific evening and I was originally going to take my kids to the carnival. I changed plans, they no showed and didn’t even call. Luckily, I had another young couple come that day so it wasn’t a total waste. In addition to that, pick a time where you’ll be home anyway.
- Set Appropriate Times to Call in your Ad – I forgot to do this one too. I had people calling after 9.
- Be Specific in Your Ad - if it’s tools or electronics, put the make and model. If it’s perennials, put the varieties you have to share and that way people can come prepared with what they want to take. A vague ad will just get the people who want something just because it’s free and no other reason.
- Put at least one barter item in your ad – Some people feel weird taking free stuff without giving anything back, and honestly those are the people you want because they are generally the nicer people in cyberspace. Put in a few items that you’re looking for. I put, “If you feel you want to trade for something, I’m currently looking for x, however it’s not required.”
- Always put a picture in your ad – In my case I put the picture of one of my beds. People’s imaginations go wild without photos and imagine the worst.
- Be Careful What you Put Up As Free – My husband could have been a really great criminal because he’s always saying stuff like: If I were a criminal, I’d look on craig’s list to see who was giving away old TV’s and Computers and get the address. Those are the homes I’d rob because I bet they had new electronics there. This is what he said when I tried to give away our old PC. His theory had merit and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Don’t respond to vague emails – I received ones like “give me your address” Um..no. I also had someone respond to a wanted ad with wanting to buy the item I was looking for. “Still have the car booster seat?” My ad couldn’t be clearer that it was an item I was looking for, not selling. I was almost tricked into responding to that one. Haste makes waste and sometimes in an effort to be efficient one of these tricky emails might prompt a response.
- It’s okay to setup a public meeting place – Some people don’t like strangers coming to their home. In my case, that was not an option and I’m usually okay with people coming to my house anyway. Most of the time, it’s the buyers who are more weirded out than me. I hope that I will never regret my trust in people. The young mom who came admitted that there was no way she was going to my house without her husband. After talking a bit, we found out that I know and work with her aunt. After she found that out, she was no longer afraid that I’d lock her up gimp style in my basement.
Apparently, there are also scammers who post free ads where the items aren’t really free because I had a couple of people email me and ask “Are they really free?”
So, the things that I put in my add that I was looking for was boy clothing size 8-10, a car booster seat and bleeding hearts. Wouldn’t you know that despite putting in at least 5 wanted ads in craigslist for boy clothes, one of my perennial seekers had 3 boys and offered to bring me some clothing. I told her it was not required but I’d happily take anything that she wanted to part with. She was the perfect person to give plants to. She showed up on time, was very nice and brought 3 garbage bags of boy’s clothing to my house. I mean it was 6 loads of laundry’s worth. In exchange, I filled up her SUV and we were both thrilled that we could help each other. In the end we both lamented how we had just spent money buying clothes and plants and we wished we had met each other 2 weeks earlier. We really hit it off. If she didn’t live an hour away, I bet we could’ve become good friends.
I don’t claim to understand Karma, but things always seem to have a way of working themselves out. How do you donate strange items that don’t necessarily get taken by places like the Salvation Army?