Monday, March 2, 2009

We Scored Big on Craigslist!

When I'm on the Internet, I usually keep an eye on Freecycle and Craigslist's "free" section for my area. Every ten minutes or so I'll just pause what I'm doing and click the refresh button for each. You can find some amazing things that people are giving away, but you usually have to be fast to get the best things.

Last Saturday afternoon while Michael was out running, I was working on the dinner menus for the following week and the grocery list. As usual, I was popping in and out of what I was doing to see what people were giving away for free.

I came across and interesting post on Craigslist that said the poster was planning to have an estate sale but ended up moving sooner than he or she thought. Everything had to go. There were some amazing things in the three photo galleries they posted -- art, decorations, furniture from various places around the world. I couldn't believe it was all going to be free. They were making everything available from 7 AM until noon on Sunday only.

When Michael got home, I told him about my find. However, by that time, the post had been flagged (meaning a reader of Craigslist believed something was wrong with the ad). **Sigh!** I guessed it was too good to be true. Yet, the advertiser re-posted it two more times. It seemed to be legitimate. We decided we'd check it out.

We got up at 5:00 AM to get ready for the day and left the house by 6:20 or so. MapQuest said it would take 30 minutes to get there. We arrived right at 7:00. One other car was there waiting. Another had just pulled up behind us. The people in the house were just opening the door and blinds.

It turned out the super-duper amazing things were either not there or for sale -- not free. But there was a house full of things for the taking. They said they'd like a small donation if you could, but it wasn't mandatory. It appeared to be three people in their late 20s or 30s (cousins, we found out) who were doing this for the mother of one of them. I think she was the older woman with a cane who we saw there. They said the donations, if you made one, would be for her since she was moving.

We've been trying to clean out our own house of unnecessary stuff, so we didn't take anything we couldn't use or didn't really like. Here's what we got: a brand new, unopened game of Scrabble (perhaps we'll keep, give as a gift, or give to Toys for Tots next year); a doll-sized Windsor chair (because it may find a place in our guest room, because it was too cute to pass up, and because it looks like it could possibly have been hand-crafted); a set of 3 wall hangings for the kitchen; a 37" x 31" framed, triple-matted, signed print by Pollyanna Pickering, and a little white storage bench type of thing.

We have been struggling with decorating our house, specifically the walls. We don't want to put a ton of money into it, but we would like it to look nice and coordinated. These new-to-us wall hangings and picture came just at the right time. The ones for the kitchen will look nice -- albeit probably not something I would have spent money on. They look like something you would pick up at T.J. Max or Ross. Unless you are my mother-in-law (who finds amazing deals on this kind of stuff that an ordinary human couldn't otherwise find), they probably would have been $8-$12 each. That could really add up...

The framed Pickering print is quite nice. The colors and subject (little birds setting on a wagon wheel) work well with our guest room. I wouldn't have paid the $350 price that is penciled on the back of the framed or even the $120 they were asking for it if they had sold it at an estate sale. But for nearly free, it's perfect!

Just as we were leaving, Michael spied a cute little white bench type of thing. It's hard to describe. It's like a one-person bench that has a seat that lifts open and has storage space inside. When he showed it to me, my first question was, "What would we do with it?" He didn't know, but he thought it looked neat -- maybe something for a kitchen. I mentally scanned all of the rooms in our house and couldn't find a place for it. It's hard to pass up something that seems like it would be so good, but we really just don't need more random stuff. Then, Michael said he thought it would look nice on his parents' newly refinished back porch. "Oh, it would! Let's get it for a gift for your mom," I said.

When we got home, I realized this little bench needed some TLC. However, after vacuuming, scrubbing, and taking the Magic Eraser to it, it looked as good as new! There was a T.J. Max sticker on the back of it that said the "regular" price was $149; the T.J. Max price was $79.99; it was on clearance for $70.00; and the estate sale price tag said $55. I'm not even sure I would have paid the lowest price for it, simply because it wasn't something I needed. It was also too much to pay for a used thing to give as a gift. But for nearly, free -- again, it was perfect!

I was really excited at the prospect of giving this bench to Michael's mom. I thought she would enjoy it and that it would be nice on their back porch. However, I was falling in love with it -- all shiny and freshly scrubbed. But what would we do with it?

We actually found a great place for it in our kitchen. It holds our newspaper, mixed paper, and cardboard perfectly before taking it to the curb for recycling each week. I've been wanting something to hold that stuff for a long time so that it didn't just set in the middle of the floor. This is great! (Sorry, Michael's mom! We're keeping the little storage bench.)

Anyway, before we left the estate sale/giveaway, we dug into our pockets and found $21 between the two of us. We showed one of the guys what we had and asked if that little bit of money would be sufficient. He agreed it was. While I know we were helping them by just getting rid of what was probably unwanted junk to them, I felt better paying them a little something for it. After all, we got a number of really nice things. So, it wasn't quite free. But all of that for $21 -- that was a super deal. And we left just as the house was getting super crowded with other bargain hunters.

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Kate said...

Score! How fun! I do applaud you passing by things that you knew you didn't need. Sometimes that can be hard when they're super-cheap or even free.

Betsy said...

Thanks, Kate. I've learned that it doesn't feel too good to be overrun with stuff in the house, so I do have to keep myself in check when it comes to free stuff and other deals. I think my husband helps me stay balanced -- just asking questions and posing ideas helps, like in the case of the little storeage bench we got at the estate sale/giveaway. I probably would have left it and then regretted it. But now we have it, and I love it!