When it comes to Craigslist, no one stalks it like I do.
As tempting as it is to jump on the first thing you see that meets most of your requirements, resist! If you’re looking for something specific, it will pay off to be a little more selective. I had been looking for a new dining set for a few months (even going so far as to set a notification of new posts including the words “dining table” on my phone). While I did love the set I refinished last year, we were just outgrowing it. Hosting 10 people for brunch was just getting ridiculous, people had to take turns sitting at the table!
When I finally decided to bite the bullet and start looking for a new dining set, I had a few rules. If you don’t have rules, Craigslist can be really overwhelming and you might pounce too soon. Buyer’s remorse is not an option since there’s no return line at customer service.
Rule #1- Price. This is key. It might be tempting to purchase something at a higher price because you feel like you’ll never find anything like it. If you’re really on a budget, hold out. You’re maximum price should be non-negotiable. I decided on $100. Why? See Rule #2.
Rule #2- If you’re replacing a piece of furniture you already own, think about how much you could sell it for. Consider that when setting your maximum new-to-you piece price. I figured I could get at least $100 for the set we had, so I thought I could break even. Of course this won’t always happen, but it’s helpful to think about (especially when trying to convince a spouse!)
Rule #3- Check Craiglist often, you don’t want to miss a listing- the good deals go fast!
Armed with the rules, make a list of your requirements. Mine were
- Must seat at least 6 and have 6 chairs.
- A leaf would be nice, but the table could seat 6 without it.
- Must be rectangular
After about 2 months of stalking, watching tables come and go, and being tempted to go over my $100 limit, my patience paid off. I got notified via my phone of a set with 8 chairs for $100. Solid wood. No, I am not lying. I emailed about it right away, and she sent me a picture. Not only was it in great condition (which wasn’t really a requirement, since I planned on refinishing it), but the chairs were upholstered. And I could tell from the seam in the table that it must have leaves. Jackpot! I asked her more questions about the dimensions and the leaves, and unfortunately she said there were no leaves. No big deal, the table was big enough without them. I suspected that the table had leaves at one time, but they were lost. I figured we could always make one!
When going to purchase a large heavy item, I do what any self respecting woman would do- drag my brother. Here’s another little CL tip- bring tools. You can’t depend on the seller having them or even really wanting to get that involved in the process aside from taking your money and showing the goods. I knew we’d need to take the legs off the table so I brought a few screwdrivers, pliers, and a wrench (these also happen to be tools I keep in the Jeep to keep it running). When we started disassembling the table, I realized that indeed this table once had leaves…possibly two LARGE ones. I was giddy with excitement! This could be our “forever” table!
Both the table and chairs were solid, much larger and heavier than I thought. I was beginning to think we’d have to make two trips! But, fortunately my brother inherited this weird packing gene from my dad (well, we both have it, but I am slower).
I snapped this horrible pic on my phone, but it doesn’t even begin to do justice to the cargo capacity of this vehicle. Somehow the table and 6 chairs fit in the Jeep. The other two chairs were tied to the roof rack. Needless to say I drove home very slowly in the right lane.
When we got home, I immediately started stripping the upholstery. It was white yellowed vinyl, and also happened to smell of smoke. I febreezed the heck out of everything, washed all the woodwork, and recovered the seats in drop cloth (what else?)
My long term plans are to refinish it (maybe in an antique glazed white, with a stained wood top?) and add color in the chair covers, but for now it’s definitely functional. That’s good news because I really really hate sanding in the winter!
I’m pleased as punch with my purchase, but I haven’t even told you the best part yet. I put old dining set on CL for $125.
Why the inflation? Well, we bought it 5 years ago for $150 with some paint marks and dings. But, instead of selling it with and additional 5 years of wear and tear, I had recently refinished it. I figured I deserved something for my time. Besides, I could always lower the price if it didn’t sell right away.
Which it totally did.
I even shocked myself this time folks.