Shopping For Used Furniture Through Craigslist

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2012-03-1942

Here’s one “secret” for finding anything under the sun for half price or less. Well, many things anyway.

Part of running a household involves performing regular maintenance. You’ll notice that over time, you’ll eventually need to replace a whole bunch of things at home. Stuff breaks all the time. So for instance, in my case, I’ve been tasked to do something about our dining chairs, which have pretty much croaked under heavy use by our young kids and our heavy “partying” (okay, I kid).


We had to resolve this problem quickly as we were running out of chairs quickly, with seats succumbing to wear one after another. The tricky thing about this was that we wanted to preserve the perfectly fine solid wood dining table that we were using. The table was still in perfect condition. This meant that we had to find chairs that fit the existing table in size and style. So what to do? Here was how I went about getting some furniture for a bargain. I wanted to keep an open mind and tried to be as resourceful as possible, because resourcefulness usually leads to those great deals that save you money.

How I Got Furniture (Dining Chairs) For A Bargain

Here’s my four step plan for finding furniture at great prices.

Step One: Go Online To Determine Basic Prices and Costs

I’m the closest to what you may call the “shopper” in the family, so the first thing I did was to (quite obviously) check on the web for “dining chairs”. Seems straightforward enough, but the basic idea here was for me to determine the ballpark pricing for what we were looking for. For large ticket items, you’ll want to establish basic prices as a starting point so you know what you’re dealing with. Sounds easy right? Well let’s see how it went: I quickly found web sites that popped out hundreds of chairs of various appearance, styles and prices. I also easily established that the going price of online dining chairs that appealed to us was hovering at over $100 each. And this was just for your standard nondescript chair with built in seat cushion!

Well those prices were just NOT going to work. I was starting to worry as the search for the right items to match an existing piece of furniture (e.g. the table) is a challenging feat as we were aiming for some furniture compatibility and aesthetics. Now throw in the “right price” into this mix and it becomes downright impossible to achieve this task in good time.

Step Two: Contact A Local Furniture Store: Hoot Judkins

I am familiar with quite a few furniture stores but one that is synonymous to “wood furniture” is Hoot Judkins. So I decided to give them a call as we had bought some nice wooden pieces from them in the past. Again, I worried over their inventory, wondering if they had enough to choose from. But prices weren’t any better either. So I opted for another type of furniture store.

Step Three: Visit Our Neighborhood Home Consignment Center

I actually enjoy making the rounds of consignment stores and estate sales as I liken it to treasure hunting. Who knows what you’ll find when you plow through the inventory? Unfortunately, during the time I spent hunting for “gold”, I was unable to come up with anything — apparently dining sets aren’t that popular an item in these stores. While I found a tremendous number of sofas, armoires and accessories, there just wasn’t a great selection of dining sets (and chairs(!)) around. But it may simply be a matter of timing and for the time being, I had no luck. So I went on to consider my last resort — the site for used stuff — before resigning myself to paying over $800 for brand new chairs.

Step Four: Stop By An Online Classifieds Site: Craigslist

Desperation was creeping up my neck. I thought about my favorite shopping spot for amazing deals: Craigslist, an online classifieds site that us folks from the Bay Area fervently use like it was our very own eBay. Craigslist is great because you can get big things for good deals and not have to worry about shipping since it’s completely local. I just wasn’t confident I’d be able to find the EXACT chairs I aimed to find as I was looking for smaller sized seats to fit a smaller space, and I preferred to pick up around eight of them to make sure I had spares.

I sifted through pages and pages of dining sets and chairs.

First, I saw what sellers euphemistically called UNIQUE dining chairs. What this really means is that there’s something different or unusual about your set, like if chairs have mismatched colors which some refer to as the “farmhouse” style.

Unique Chairs 2 Unique Chairs 1

Then I waded through ANTIQUE offerings…

Antique Chairs 2 Antique Chairs 1

and VINTAGE chairs, which actually means that you’ll need to give it some TLC in order to restore the items to their former glory (and get rid of those rips!). Or maybe you’d like to buy the stuff for their added character?

Vintage Chairs 2 Vintage Chairs 1

But waddaya know? After eyeballing lists upon lists of people’s used merchandise, I stumbled upon an ad for a set which I thought could work out. I crossed my fingers and paid the seller a visit and just like that, it was one of those “buy at first sight” moments. I forked over $400 for 10 (that’s TEN!) upholstered chairs in great condition and was thrilled that my search was over (the seller was nice enough to let me take the chairs without the matching table). Yeah, that’s a super value of $40 for each solid, nicely finished piece that’s a reasonable fit.

Best Chairs 1 Best Chairs 2

The chairs sit well with my decor (with or without slipcovers), and I now have a lot of spares for when I have larger parties.

The moral of this story: If you can’t find what you’re looking for at a given price, don’t give up on USED STUFF! There’s a treasure trove of neat stuff in online classified ad sites, consignment stores, forums or estate and garage sales. Perseverance has its rewards! So far, this strategy hasn’t failed us yet.

Created June 12, 2007. Updated March 19, 2012. Copyright © 2012 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

MoneyChangesThings June 12, 2007 at 7:20 am

If you’re not in a hurry, your local freecycle is worth a shot. The more specific you are, the better. Probably not for dining room chairs, but if you need something specific like a tool or some electronics, or a particular book, a person who owns it and doesn’t care about it is often delighted to offer it up. I never buy three ring binders anymore, for example. There is always someone on freecycle who has 100’s sitting around from their days as a pharmaceutical consultant or whatever and can’t figure out what the hell to do with them! Freecycle is a great win-win.

60 in 3 June 12, 2007 at 9:34 am

Heh, MoneyChangesThings beat me to it. I’m a huge fan of Freecycle and am a member of the three freecycle groups closest to me (there are about a dozen FC groups in the Silicon Valley, one for each city).

Basically, FreeCycle is a mailing group (based in Yahoo groups). People who are trying to get rid of something will mail out a note to the group stating what they have. Others will mail in a note stating what they want. It’s then up to individual members to work out delivery or pickup. Everything is free.

I just got rid of some cat litter boxes and last week I picked up some books. It’s free plus it saves all these objects from ending up in a landfill.

Gal

A Tentative Personal Finance Blog June 12, 2007 at 9:45 pm

I’ve never actually bought used furniture, and was lucky enough when I got married that my parents bought most of the pieces I have now, but my brother has gotten tons of furniture through craigslist. He swears by it. He’s post college and living large, so he doesn’t care what kind of furniture it is… as long as the price tag is free.

Golbguru June 13, 2007 at 10:20 pm

Like the first two comments suggest …Freecycle is the new in-thing, keep an eye on it – stuff for free is better than stuff for cheap. :)

$40 for those chair looks like a very nice deal – did you get to check them before you finalized the deal?

Before I go, let me make you a bit jealous of student life ;) – for our small apartment, we got a brand-new set of dining table and 4 chairs for $99 :) But like I said, I don’t think that’s possible anywhere outside a small university town where we live.

Silicon Valley Blogger June 13, 2007 at 10:50 pm

@Golb, Okay I’m jealous! How’d you manage $99 for a full dining set? Let’s see a photo! Yes, I was able to check on the condition of the items before purchasing. Anyway, I was very fussy about the chairs. It had to have fabric cushions. I suppose you can say my rump is spoiled. ;D

@Everyone, I need to check on Freecycle sometime. I’ve always just frequented our neighborhood home consignment stores and craigslist.

mrmoose June 25, 2007 at 6:56 pm

If you live in a city like NYC, LA and Miami with a large amount of transients keep in mind that the best time to find great deals on craigs list or on any used furniture is at the end of the month as people are moving and have to sell.

Furniture Store Fan June 2, 2008 at 7:35 pm

I am in the business and you did some very smart things. Craigslist always has great furniture for sale that is often better constructed than many of the imports of today. Further, you purchased extra dining chairs. I cannot tell you how many people decide they need 2-4 more and then cannot find them. You can always use them as spare seating.

Mr. display case June 15, 2008 at 9:07 am

Spares are a definitely a good thing to have. It’s kind of too bad Craigslist and Freecycle aren’t very popular in other parts of the country. But there is dumpster diving. :) :P

Dan June 26, 2008 at 8:07 am

Freecycle is practically unheard of over here in the UK, which is a real shame as it’s a great project.

Re Craigslist – I haven’t actually got anything off their myself, but i’ve heard stories of people receiving major bargains. I think i’ll go take a look now, actually!

Rocky Nate August 18, 2008 at 10:48 pm

I’m also in the biz, and you got a very nice deal there. I agree that it’s totally hard to find something that matches your style at any reasonable price point. I would recommend either Custom, or Craigslist. Spend the money for EXACTLY what you want, or recycle quality used pieces. You can refinish or cover what’s not quite right.

Ed: Thank you for your comments. Just want you to know that I don’t allow the use of keywords in comment names.

annakat August 30, 2008 at 12:57 pm

Perseverance sure paid off for you. They are beautiful, great job and great find. I don’t have the patience and once I find a bargain that needs just a little fixing I’m too tired to fix them and end up giving the things away. My husband buys things we can never use. He bought me 4 bar stools that are for a tall bar. Our bar is table height. The stools are metal. Needless to say we’ll give those away soon.

Agent Scully September 16, 2008 at 7:42 am

I found a bunch of outdoor furniture on Craigslist for our new deck. I paid $150 for a nice table and 4 chairs.

achievedisplay September 16, 2008 at 6:08 pm

Another interesting place to look is behind stores. Laws in some states prohibit furniture stores from selling demo furniture, which can be a win for you.

Vicky October 9, 2008 at 12:41 am

I agree with Dan – Freecycle would work great in the UK if more people knew about it. Same goes for Craigslist, I think Gumtree is getting there albeit slowly.

Wendy Corne October 11, 2008 at 9:08 am

I actually got a lovely computer desk from a couple living in my town at Craigslist. They were moving and had to sell some of their furniture and lucky me, the computer desk was among the furniture they decided to leave behind.

Jen November 15, 2008 at 12:58 am

Craigslist has been a great site to look for affordable used furnitures. I got a bargain for an end table there last week, really a great find!

Bujes November 15, 2008 at 8:31 am

I think the market of used furniture is not developed enough. There are too many pieces of great furniture dumped away.

Boxed In December 3, 2008 at 9:21 am

End of the month is the best time to find great deals on craigs list or on any used furniture :)

christine goodwin June 18, 2009 at 10:36 pm

I am looking for a garage door.
Possibly , just one side. 7′ x 9′ White Wood with 9 panels for the whole door.
3 panels across.

If there is one or both for sale, please email me asap,
sincerely, Christine

christine goodwin June 18, 2009 at 10:37 pm

sorry, if it matters, it is the right side of the garage doors.
we need to replace it, for there was a bit of a crash from a new driver….lol

Silicon Valley Blogger June 19, 2009 at 12:40 am

Hi Christine,
I think it would be best if you check out Craigslist for garage doors. :) Thanks for your comments!

Ben June 22, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Nice one, you’re lucky. The furniture is not looking worn out at all, it’s a best buy in my opinion. Are you going to use those in your home or office?

Furniture Cowboy Blog June 30, 2009 at 8:32 am

Check out if your favorite retailer furniture store has an outlet. Usually, retail outlet store have great furniture deals.

LLRF July 4, 2009 at 11:01 am

Great advice…. Don’t care about whether the furniture you buy has been used or not, take care about the quality and the craftsmanship of the furniture.

Eileen July 9, 2009 at 9:43 pm

The internet really is a big help to us. We can easily shop online and get every thing that we need with just a few clicks. This is really a gift of the modern times.

Eileen July 12, 2009 at 8:39 pm

It pays to persevere. If you don’t stop looking for what you really want, you will ultimately get it. And the feeling would be more than just happiness but also a sense of fulfillment. That’s where we get motivated all the more.

Flex October 11, 2009 at 11:51 pm

Craigslist has been so popular and also a great savings on some items we used to look at, in malls.

Darren October 27, 2009 at 7:34 am

If you want to do online shopping, there’s a great website that offers high quality products from its members and external vendors. I’m talking about the social networking website Zovue.com which offers free shopping in beautiful shopping magazines. The online shopping magazines are catagorized and fully searchable. You can look at items from multiple angles if the vendor uses this feature. Zovue.com has lots of other features you’d expect from a social networking website but the online shopping is superb!

Joey January 20, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Absolutely, Craiglist s the place to start. I myself have some amazing furniture pieces at a fraction of the retail price. It is definitely the right place to start.

Velvet January 24, 2010 at 2:02 pm

I don’t like Craigslist but I love your new vintage chairs!

Creig February 17, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Most of my furniture is from high-end lines bought at outlet. I have a solid teak, four-poster Henredon bed that I bought for $800. The bed is stunning and I saved a bundle–the retail price is in the low five figures. I have gotten some stuff from Baker and Stickley at a Baker’s close out store, and have found some other designer pieces on e Bay. The stuff won’t usually be at IKEA prices, but closer to Mary, and much better quality.

Matt February 18, 2010 at 7:29 am

Hey Great post. I bought my whole kitchen dining room set on craigslist for really cheap. It’s kind of fun and challenging to see what people can get for deals on craigslist.

DM Taylor April 5, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Hehe, I’m an avid bargain hunter, I managed to get a table and 6 chairs on eBay for £100, some people just throw away their stuff. Now I tend to locate specialized auctions such as ibidder, which is awesome for picking up some good deals..

A Waiter April 10, 2010 at 11:58 pm

Craigslist can be a gold mine for finding furniture. Often, people will give stuff like chairs and desks away for free (or very cheap) if you can haul it away. I got a computer desk and a few chairs for free before.

Sunclair May 18, 2010 at 5:31 am

Hey nice to read your quest for furniture. I also use eBay to search for used products. By looking at sites like Craigslist, I can get a good idea of what reasonable prices are. Considering that, I can then try and if I’m lucky I can win the auction for a nice price.

K. Foe May 23, 2010 at 5:51 am

I have used ebay in the past as well for used furniture but then I found Tycrodepot, which is a very good site for this sort of thing, plus the shipping charges are low. You may want to check them out.

Rafael July 15, 2010 at 2:43 pm

I got my used dining chairs for a very good price, now I am looking for a coffee table. I agree. There are plenty of websites where we can get nice used furniture for an excellent price!

European Furniture July 20, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Craigslist and flea markets are the way to go.

There’s quite a few people who basically go after all the deals/giveaways on craigslist and then sell it on local flea markets.

They search, fix it up, gather it all in one place – for a little profit they save you plenty of time.

John October 28, 2010 at 8:12 am

For affordable used furniture, Craigslist is not a bad idea. One month ago, I got a great deal on an end table purchase! Thanks.

krantcents March 20, 2012 at 10:58 am

I used Craigslist for the very first time a few months ago. I was looking for a new desk chair. I found one after looking for months. It was good I wasn’t in a hurry. I was able to buy the desk chair for about one third of retail.

Silicon Valley Blogger March 20, 2012 at 11:38 am

Sounds great Krantcents! Actually, Craigslist is one of those places where you can take your treasure hunting online. It does require persistence though. If I’m in a hurry, then I don’t have the leisure to search for just the “perfect” thing. So sometimes, I do get impatient and end up getting something brand new. But if it’s something you can wait for, and it could be a bigger ticket item, then going second hand is great. I always get a great sense of fulfillment whenever I come across this kind of deal — especially if it works with what I already have!

eJean1981 March 20, 2012 at 12:46 pm

It’s great that you got such a good buy. One caveat: when acquiring used chairs, always sit in them first before buying. Years ago, I got four dining chairs from someone’s curb. They looked good, and were nice and sturdy. However, when I got them home and sat down in one, it was wildly uncomfortable. They caused back and neck pain in almost everyone. Moral of the story: check out what you are getting!

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