Great creative on Craigslist

A real ad found on Craigslist from a creative seller.

Dear Techlife,

As a long time reader, I was excited by your column “Modern Day Alchemist.” (Editor’s Note: Column titled “Modern Day Alchemy“) I had read your experience with Freecycle and while that was good, my stuff is worth money to me. So how do I turn that stuff into both empty space AND money? Your column on Ebay and Craiglist was great. It inspired me to start the process using Ebay. I have sold a few things and it seemed pretty easy. So first thank you. But then I ran into a dilemma, for a heavy item,  a TV, I don’t want to ship it so how do I know what to list it for on Craigslist?  Any help?

Spring Cleaning for Profit


Dear Profit:

Your signature was so awesome it became the title to this column. What a wordsmith. Interestingly Techlife offices have a story for you, but be prepared for the twist.

Many years ago the Techlife offices bought a 36″ Sony television. In those days it was the largest picture tube on the market.  It was great TV, with a beautiful picture on a flat glass screen. The massive television weighed nearly 300lbs and was bulky and awkward. Moving the television always took at least two adults. Shortly thereafter the era of HD was unleashed. The Sony did a great job early on keeping up with the quality of the first HD sets on the market. Visitors often asked if we had a new HD TV because the picture was so crisp.

Over time HD sets improved and then the second phase of television development occurred. Thin. From plasma to LCD the surfaces became larger and the depth became smaller. The world was excited by crisp HD images on a canvas not thicker than, well, a canvas. “Thanks for the history lesson, professor. I just want to sell my TV.” I can hear you thinking.

As our story continues Techlife decided it was time to get a new thin HDTV. What to do with the Sony? As you noted Ebay is not an option leaving Craiglist.  I used two methods to research price.

Search Craigslist for the model number and compare existing listingsThis was simple but unlike Ebay, Craigslist doesn’t provide data completed sales data. Sometimes you see the same item listed a second time with a reduced price which is a clue. Craigslist can be a science.

Search Priceonomics for the model number and compare existing listings – Priceonomics is a startup (Dec. 2011) with the goal to be “the price guide for everything.”  They started out with price guides for 50,000 categories of used items including: bicycles, televisions, speakers, monitors, turntables, computers and cell phones. The “simple” goal to have price estimates for everything bought and sold. Ambitious aren’t they? As of this publication they have 21 categories and 163 sub-categories.

Great. I had a price range, I took some photos and listed it for $10 less than the lowest end of the range on Craigslist just wanting it gone.  And nothing happened. People don’t want to pay for a big bulky TV when they can buy a sleek thin one I reasoned. Next I turned to Freecycle, someone out there would want it for FREE. Of course the same problem existed. Who want’s a behemoth when svelte is in? Finally I reached out to my network and offered it to a non-profit. Happily a few group homes replied and were eager.  One showed up with a truck and picked it up.

The twist? Figure out first off if what you have is worth selling or would a donation better serve everyone. “Profit” might just be you having more free space than you had before.