So, it’s been awhile since I’ve updated this blog and I thought I better get to it. This is the time of year when I feel most like doing nothing; just laying around in bed eating bonbons all day or looking at boats on Yachtworld.com ( a personal weakness that borders on addiction). But since I don’t eat bonbons anyhow, and I am supposed to be using this blog as the proverbial fire under the hind end, I’ve actually been making progress at home, even if not on the blog. See? It’s working!
When I last posted, I was commenting on the sheer number of pieces of furniture we’ve collected over the course of a 29 year marriage. I’m coming to terms with disposing of some of those pieces and now I feel the urge to comment about the use of Craigslist as a tool for selling unnecessary items. To be more precise, I feel the urge to complain about my Craigslist experience.
The promise of Craiglist, that of easy, free posting of unwanted items which will soon be sold to people just waiting to buy, is a fantasy. At least the second part is a fantasy. Yes, the posting is free, and fairly easy, even if it does take some time. But the part about people waiting to buy said items really must exist only in my rather too-vivid imagination. To date I have spent around 4 hours photographing and posting items on Craigslist and I have sold exactly one item, a little white Victorian table, for $50, which is $25 less than what I listed it for. That amount of work has earned me $12.50/hour and 1.5 square feet of floor space. I think the only reason the table sold is that I used the term ‘Shabby Chic’ in the title.
We’ve had a number of emails asking if this item or that is still available, and then when I email back that it is available….. NOTHING! What is wrong with these people? Or maybe they don’t actually want the item, only to know if we still have it, like they need to be reassured that it will be there whenever they are ready.Or perhaps they email only so they can laugh as they expertly dash our hopes of an easy sale. Or maybe they are lonely people who email others just for the joy of getting an email back.
I wonder if the problem is deeper than that, however. I wonder if our sales problem lies more within a change that appears to be happening across the country, if not across all western nations. I wonder if the problem we’re having with selling our ‘stuff’ to others is because overall, people are getting tired of accumulating all that stuff in the first place. It’s no accident that there are so many books on downsizing, clearing clutter, etc. and that there is a movement to build smaller houses. It seems like collectively we have already ridden the crest of the wave that allowed us to collect and sell lots of ‘things’. I wish there were data that compared the relative ‘success’ of a garage sale now to one held 10 years ago.
And although many people do not have the extra cash now that they did 10 years ago, this ‘buying less’ mentality is not limited to the cash-strapped masses. CnnMoney published an article this month stating that even the wealthiest people in the U.S. (defined as those making more than $130,000/year) will be buying fewer gifts this Christmas. Maybe I’m not defined as ‘wealthy’, but I can assure you I am among those who will buy less. Patagonia recently announced they are starting a new campaign to get people to buy fewer things, focusing on buying better quality and making those things last. Why, that’s downright UN-AMERICAN! Frankly, it looks like just a smart marketing strategy since, according to a recent New York Times article people appear to be holding onto things longer across the board; making them last; repairing rather than tossing things and replacing them. Our mothers and grandmothers could give us a lot of advice about this.
Putting two and two together leads me to believe that his evolution of values we are experiencing means that eventually there will be fewer items for sale on Craigslist. So you’d think that people would be rushing to buy our things in anticipation of the times of scarcity! Don’t these people prepare for the future? Maybe I should re-title my listings: THE END TIMES ARE UPON US! BUY THIS NOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE. ALSO: SHABBY CHIC!!! I’ve heard that the more exclamation points a listing has, the more people pay attention. No? Okay. But if that doesn’t work, we’ll have to have a garage sale in December. Cash only, you pick up at our Lakewood location. Haggling cheerfully accepted.