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Saturday, December 20, 2008

craigslist.org and Holiday Shopping

There are only five full days left to shop for Christmas and tomorrow at sundown the first candle of Hanukkah will be lit. In an effort to assist all of my shopping readers, I thought I might suggest to you to think about finding that really special gift on your local craigslist.org site. Yes, I said craigslist.org and Holiday Shopping in the same breath.

I will admit I am not a great shopper and I have for years, and I do mean years, tried to avoid malls and other small shopping venues. It is not that I don't want to remember people that I love, but I find shopping exhausting. Over 30 years ago I started using catalogs for holiday shopping and when the Internet began to allow us to shop all over the world in real time, well, let's just say it made my life easier. Keep in mind for many years I lived in very rural areas and did not have access to the large retailers, so I depended on the Sears' Catalog and J. C. Penney Catalog.

Now back to cragslist.org. My past experience with craigslist.org was in helping a good friend furnish his home office by using craigslist. It was about 18 months ago that my friend and I had tried to find good sturdy office furniture, etc, but the usual suspects were really only selling reconstructed fiberboard. So I said to him, "Let's search on craigslist." We did and what do you know, we found good quality, barely used furniture from a company in Orange County California which was closing down. Within in a few days the home office was complete for about $500, retail valued at about $1700.

You might get the impression that I have had a Craigslist account since its inception. That is not true, in fact, it was only two weeks ago that I set up my account. Why? Like any other "member", I had something of value that I didn't need and I wanted to sell; however, I had not been successful in selling this item in any of the old fashion ways. On December 6th I decided to try selling this item with Craigslist. I set up my account and what do you know, by the next morning I had received an email from "Chris." This was exciting...I answered the email and then I received the dreaded strange reply that looked "just plain nuts." I went back on Craigslist and read the "scams help page." I soon realized this "Chris" was up to no good and I decided to follow Craig's #1 rule: "DEAL LOCALLY WITH FOLKS YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON - follow this one simple rule and you will avoid 99% of the scam attempts on craigslist."

I am happy to report that yesterday I received a call from a gentleman in Tucson who wanted to see my item. He came to our home, previewed the item, and said he might be back in touch. At 2:00PM, he called back and asked if we could meet with him to have the item inspected by an expert. 3:00PM we met at a local mall, the item was inspected and given the "green light" and the transaction was completed!! The gentleman was happy as he had found the perfect holiday gift for his girlfriend and I was happy as I no longer had this item that had been gathering dust, but instead put money in my bank account.

Before I close off this morning I want to mention that while Craigslist can help you find housing, employees, jobs, furniture, etc, you can indeed also make interesting connections. After all, the origins of craigslist are based in Craig Newmark simply trying to provide a way for his friends to stay in touch about community events. You can read an interesting article from Business Week about its inception. Craig is often referred to as a "Community Organizer." You remember this term from the 2008 Election. Yes, he has helped to organize many communities and when you sell or buy using Craigslist you can play that old game "six degrees of separation." Take my transaction: I have lived in Tucson for only nine months. I really know very few people here. But when we met my buyer we sat down for a cup of coffee while we wrote out the receipt. Dennis asked the gentleman what he does for a living. To this he replied that he is an artist. We said we only know one artist in Tucson. He asked the name of the artist. We told him and don't you know the artist we know is one of his best friends and I might add this artist is our oldest son's landlord. Guess how our oldest son found his duplex to rent? You got it...Craigslist!

SMO, Social Media, Social Networks...think craigslist.org. Happy Holiday shopping.


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