Craigslist, Catharsis and Negotiation

The past few days we’ve been cleaning up our house and removing things that we no longer use, or need. Much has been donated to Goodwill, but I’ve also sold a number of things on Craigslist.

So thats my first area to address in this post – Craigslist. Whenever I’ve gone through a period of cleanout in the past I’ve turned to Craigslist. And I’m doing it again. I’m simply amazed by the speed I can sell something on Craigslist. Sometimes it is literally minutes. Maybe I price things for value, or maybe some of these things are just in demand, and people are always looking for a deal. In general, most things I post move extremely quickly. Not all things sell, but most do.

But this gets me wondering. Why? I think part of it is about the fact that other folks are always looking for ways to save money and Craigslist, ebay and similar sites help people achieve that. But I also think there are two factors with Craigslist in making this work.

First is the site itself. The UI is stuck in the 1990s. It hasn’t really changed since then as far as I can tell. But thats what make it works. It’s easy to post, easy to browse, and easy to contact the seller via the way people still communicate online – email. (Not sure when that will be replaced by twitter or facebook status though). Once someone contacts the seller, you are then communicating directly, no need to go back to the site, etc. So at that point, you now have a relationship with that person. Plus when a deal is achieved the sellers usually meet. Maybe this is all well understood by lots of people, but I’m simply amazed at how the direct connections instantly create trust. It works incredibly well.

Now what I also have found interesting is that people don’t really seem to negotiate on most things. The experience really is designed for back and forth bartering. But most people find what they want, believe they are getting value and are willing to pay cash for it. I’m shocked by the lack of negotiation. Maybe I’m pricing my items too cheaply though. I tend to think I’ve priced them fairly and people are just happy they can find what they want at a price that seems fair to them.

Lastly, I simply love the cathartic nature of getting rid of something. I especially like it when I sell something quickly on Craigslist. My life becomes just a bit more uncluttered, and I have some extra cash in my pocket. I view it as free money. I did very little, gave up very little (something I no longer needed or wanted) and my wallet is a bit heavier. I find it oddly enjoyable.

Maybe I just need less stuff. I’m sure I could I find someone on Craigslist to buy it.


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