Downsizing Through Craigslist

This week was a “downsizing week.” I made our first attempt to sell-off unneeded items that were taking up space in the basement level and garage. I took photographs of the items to be sold, opened a Craigslist account (free), learned how to post items for sale with photos (easy), and off I went.

So far, I am quite please with the results. In less than a week, we sold a treadmill, a large desk, a large bookcase, an old audio cabinet, and a bicycle. In each case, the first looker became the buyer. I priced the items aggressively for quick sale because I didn’t want to waste time on emails, phone calls, and showings to people who enjoy negotiating. I enjoy negotiating sometimes, but not when we are merely eliminating stuff that has no value to us because it is just taking up space.

Before posting our Craigslist ads, I studied other ads for similar products. There were two characteristics of many of those other ads that I believed were counter-productive to a good selling strategy. First, the photos of the item for sale were either non-existent or of very poor quality. I took high quality photos and in most cases, posted four photos (different views) of each item. (Four is the Craigslist limit.)

The other problem with most Craigslist ads is that the descriptions of most items bordered on the worthless. There was not enough  information about the features and condition of the items. There is no excuse for this because the Craigslist ads are free and allow you to post lots of info about your items for sale.

Providing a lot of detail in your Craigslist ads will, in my opinion, minimize the frequency and duration of communications that you will have with prospective buyers. You want buyers to know as much about the item as possible from your ads so that they don’t have to ask you. Downsizing is something you do to make your life easier. Therefore, you should design your downsizing strategies (and your Craigslist ads) for that purpose.

There a few things I’ve posted on Craigslist that have not attracted much attention. Those will become donated items. One reasonable attempt at selling is all I intend to make, then the stuff will be eliminated by any means possible. Seeing the newly opened spaces in our home and garage is a reward unto itself.

We have other stuff (mostly collectibles belonging to my wife) that will need to go on eBay. More about that later.

Have any of you  boomers used Craigslist as part of your downsizing strategy?


  1. says

    Yes! I’m right in the middle of doing the same thing that you’re doing ~ listing unwanted furniture and vehicles for sale on Craigslist. Just sold an old truck for a nice sum to the first buyer who called. I’m spending the weekend rounding up the final pieces that need to go and hopefully they’ll sell quickly. Failing that, everything will go to Goodwill. This time next year, I only want the items that I use/need/love in my house. With less stuff, we are much happier.

  2. gardengal4 says

    I have contemplated selling stuff on Craigslist, but I am too nervous about having strangers come to my home, or even my driveway/garage.

  3. Steve says

    Using Craigslist is simply being a good steward of the stuff we have accumulcated. If you don’t want them to come to your house, you can meet anywhere else, like the parking lot at the grocery store. E-bay is for small semi-valuable things where the hoped for price is enough to justify the risk of paying a commission if it doesn’t sell, plus the cost of shipping. Craisglist is ideal for things you don’t want to ship.

    You mentioned selling a treadmill. It would be ridiculous to ship a treadmill. We sold a gun safe. It was 600 pounds, and shipping would just be out of the question.

    Cash-only. And you can politely count it, because people tend to undercount. I would consider taking a personal check, because it is supposed to be illegal to pass a bad check, it includes some personally-identifying information, although I doubt the police would care. Definitely no other forms of payment.

    You can’t sell guns on Craigslist or Ebay. There are specialty auction sites for specific markets, such as

    And if you want to give away stuff for free, set it on the curbe, take a picture and post it on the Craigslist Free page, and people will be there within 15 minutes to haul it away. I swear people must drive around town on Saturday with a smartphone so they can swoop in on that free stuff.

  4. Leslie says

    Did that last year. Most furniture did not sell, but was able to give it away (really old sofas, chairs, TVs and TV stand) but wicker and large plants flew out the door.

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