By Stephen Wissink
The deal was set to go down at 11.
We would meet in the far reaches of a supermarket parking lot, away from the prying eyes of snoops. She would arrive in a nondescript black truck, me in an equally innocuous Ford sedan. She made sure to let me know her husband would be coming along; the implied message being she would have protection if things didn’t go down as planned.
I arrived early to scope out the scene and spotted her truck pulling in.
Her husband hopped out of the truck. “You got it?”
“Yea,” I replied and handed over the goods. He handed me a wad bills, assured me it was all there, got back in the truck and they sped off.
The whole transaction took less than two minutes.
True to his word, the wad of dollar bills totaled the agreed upon asking price of $10. In return, they got a slightly used iron, a Black & Decker Duramaster Pro steam iron to be exact.
Welcome to the world of Craigslist, the online Classifieds that took hundreds of millions of dollars away from newspapers, financially crippled that industry, and let bargain hunters across the country sell their stuff for slightly more than garage sale prices.
I find it best to meet people in public places whenever possible because, as you’ll read below, there are some real nut jobs out there.
I’ve been dabbling on Craigslist for years, mostly buying cell phones for far less than the asking price and turning them over to a friend who worked at Verizon. In turn, he would sell them to people unfortunate enough to have lost or broken their phones mid-contract and didn’t want to pay full retail for a new one.
We’d split the profits, usually about $50 a piece.
In the past week, the dabbling has escalated to a part-time job. I am moving and am determined to fit everything I’m taking into to my car.
The Simmons king-sized bed my ex wasted $1,200 on – I pocketed $130.
The glass coffee table that’s impossible to keep clean – another $25.
The dining room set I spent $700 on two decades ago – another $70 in gas money.
The Ronco Rotisserie & BBQ that I got as a gift and has been used once – well, that hasn’t sold yet, even at the rock bottom price of $15. I suspect it will be in the pile that the Salvation Army will haul away.
To date, I’ve made $285 in sales and, even more important to me, I don’t have to haul the stuff away.
As I mentioned earlier, you get some whack job on Craigslist. If I can’t meet the prospective buyer in a public place, I carefully screen them before inviting them over. Couples get more points than single guys. Being polite is essential. Having a truck to haul the merchandise away is a must.
Phil didn’t pass the test by any means. He called to inquire about a $25 bookcase and was adamant I would have to deliver it.
“I don’t have a truck,” I told him.
“That’s OK,” he replied. “You can rent a U-Haul or hire somebody.”
“Um, I would lose money doing that,” I noted.
“Tough, that’s your problem,” he growled back. “You want the 25 bucks or not?”
Um, no. He sent me a text, calling me a jerk, but even he wasn’t the nuttiest of them.
That monicker is reserved for the guy who wanted the battered couch I’m trying to give away for free.
He too didn’t have a truck, but unlike Phil, he didn’t want it delivered. Turns out he’s homeless.
“Was wondering if I could crash at your place until somebody takes it way,” he asked.
As my girlfriend’s daughter noted, “Holy crap! That hobo is weird.”
I do admire his chutzpa. But as much as I respect his creative approach for free housing, I opted not to give him my address, put a mint on the pillow or leave the light on.
Even if I was that dumb, I’m too selfish. With the bed gone, I need the couch to sleep on.
Originally published on April 22, 2013