How Do You Sell Stuff When You Don’t Want to Be Murdered?

As part of my downsizing, I wanted to sell some furniture, a bed and a bedside table . I didn’t want it, but it wasn’t junk. I didn’t want to leave it on the sidewalk to be ferreted away in the night by bedless strangers. No, I thought it could garner a bit of cash. But how to sell?

Garage sale?  They are a lot of work; you have to wake up early, and my husband was cringing at the suggestion. Plus, it’s a bunch of strangers who can see your house, that you might be moving, etc. Charity drop? Well, I did just take a bunch of clothes and a bookcase to Goodwill, but again, I wanted a bit of cash for the bedroom stuff.

Which leaves Craigslist. I’ve bought and sold and given away for free on the site, but that was before two recent murders where it’s said that the victims met the people on Craigslist.  One of the people who were killed was George Weber in his apartment in Brooklyn. I used to work with George back in San Francisco at KGO radio.  He was a great guy. Very good to me. He was a night time talk host, and I was a lowly traffic reporter, but he involved me in bits. Once, he interviewed my mom on the radio because he couldn’t believe she really hated Mother’s Day as I had told him. Another time, my cousin asked if I could get his young daughter singing a Christmas song to be played on KGO. (She was in pageants at the time.) I thought , oh, yeah, right, it’s a news station and big one. But George did it. He played little Velvet’s song.

Craigslist is supposed to be a bulletin board for stuff. But a stranger comes to you, or you come to them. A security guy that I work with who use to be a county sheriff said he thinks “Craigslist is creepy.” Furthermore, he has his mail go to a PO box; he doesn’t ever give out his real address. Maybe that’s not so strange.

I’m sorry George came to such a terrible end that we live in a world where you question if you should sell a side table.

11 thoughts on “How Do You Sell Stuff When You Don’t Want to Be Murdered?

  1. I am pretty paranoid when it comes to inviting strangers into my world, even just to look at a side table-but I’ve used Craigslist successfully by laying a few ground rules. Mocked by my husband for my seemingly steel-trap security philosophy, I have only this to say: I’m still alive. Proof’s in the pudding, pal. Whether I’m selling on Craigslist or as a “pick-up-only” on ebay, I screen my buyers. Ask what neighborhood they’re from. Get their full name BEFORE you reveal even the tiniest detail about yourself and Google the beJesus out of it. NEVER meet anyone in your home-put the table or lawnmower or Bugaboo in your car and meet your potential buyer at a public place, like Target, and pull up near the entrance. Don’t take the kids, remove the carseats, random goldfish sprinklings, and any other traces of their existence. We sold a lawnmower this way, and while the buyer poked fun a little at our obvious “boundary” issues, it was worth it, in terms of my comfort level. In short, there ARE maniacs out there, and I absolutely believe they’re trolling the web for potential victims-so use your head, follow your gut, and don’t be afraid to use paranoia to your advantage.

  2. I’ve never sold on Craigslist but we recently bought a piece of furniture off of it. We only communicated via e-mail and I took my husband with me to look at the piece. As we were driving to the house I said to him, ‘If this looks like a meth house – we’re turning around and going home w/o ringing the doorbell”. Fortunately our transaction went fine but I understand the concern especially in light of this recent situation. Not sure I would be as easy about the same thing today. Maybe if I were selling I’d try to meet at a public place with the item (if that were possible) … could you take the items to your husband’s restaurant?

    🙂 side note … glad you are all healthy again!

  3. I am not 100% sure, but I think in both of those cases, they were searching Craigslist under the Personals, not the Used Furniture. They attract different crowds (I hope?).

    My boyfriend and I sold off two couches and a table on craigslist, and its where we found our new puppy, Millie. It’s never done me wrong.

  4. very wise Alexandra. yes, it was a different section of Craigslist, but it gave me pause, especially since I knew one fo the victims.
    Yes, Lou, I was thinking I could meet them in at Mark’s restaurant, but good epilogue to this, last night Mark sold it to one of the cooks. Actually he sold the bed and I threw in the night stand for free.

  5. We just got done using Craigslist to rent the apartment we were living in. We fell in love with a home and decided to buy despite the fact our lease wasn’t up until August. Of course we had to let people into our home because that was what we were “selling”. Of course I tried to have my boyfriend with me during each showing but some days it just wasn’t possible.

    I think if you’re just smart about it be ok. Never post your phone number. Make them contact you through email. Only then should you give your phone number. Craigslist is just as safe as looking at ads in the newspaper.

    I am so sorry to hear about the recent murders because of craigslist. It really is sad that some people are so sick that they use it to victimize others.

  6. I just can’t worry about it. It’s a great way to not throw things away and again, get some cash.

    Of course, I have a 90lb doberman.

  7. Ya, I think you shouldn’t offer/pick up “massages” under the erotic services section. I’m kind of lax about people coming to my house which sends my mother in to a fit, (I guess becuase it’s her house.) I think you should go with someone or have someone with you, I’ve been a craigslist security escort for my friends before. I think the whole meet people thing isn’t bad but when it’s stuff like furniture that people want to check out before they buy then It seems like that would be too complicated.

    http://current.com/items/89960175_the-craigslist-genie-missed-connections.htm

  8. My husband has sold large items on Craig’s List – a riding lawn mower, for example. The best way to sell is to only communicate through email and then, if the person is interested in purchasing the item, meet them in a public area, such as, a grocery store parking lot. My husband just puts the item on a large trailer to pull behind his truck to show the item at the designated meeting spot. Then, you don’t have to worry about creeps coming to your house or worse – going to their house. Also, safety in numbers – don’t meet anyone alone.

  9. I’ve had my fair share of excellent experiences and my fair share of really creepy ones. I think that in this day in age there are certain things that Craigslist could do proactively to ensure the safety of its visitors.

    In San Francisco Bay Craigslist has basically replaced classified ads so it’s a really important tool when you’re looking to buy or sell anything. It’s useful but can definitely be dangerous. There are certain precautions that I think can be used.

    I wrote a blog post about this very topic earlier today so I was surprised to stumble upon this post! I’d definitely appreciate any thoughts. http://aaronendre.com/2009/04/30/craigslist-is-anonymity-really-the-best-policy/

  10. an idea: meet in a very, very public place. for example: a wal-mart parking lot, up front by the curb- do the trade off there. or a grocery store, a large popular, public store, etc. never hurts to bring a somewhat “substantial” man along with you for backup.

    by the way, new to your site, love it. not a mom, but addicted to this. best wishes!

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