Monday, June 1, 2009

...Another woman's treasure

You don't need to literally pick through the garbage ("One man's trash is another man's treasure") in order to get a great deal.

When thinking about times that I have gotten the most for my munny (for my definition of munny, click here), many of those times are when I have purchased something second-hand. For those of you who are not familiar with Craigslist and Kijiji, there are many treasures to be found in your own town. Here are my tips on finding the best deals on these sites and getting the most for your munny:

1) Focus on the well-off areas of town. With each ad, the seller lists what part of the city s/he lives in. Whle it's certainly not universally true, often times you can find higher quality items at better prices in the parts of town where people are wealthier. These individuals are often more interested in seeing that the item be reused rather than getting every last nickel for it.
2) Ask for a better price. Prior to moving to Montreal, I lived in Boston. Craigslist is huge in Boston, and the second-hand market is active and thriving. With an abundance of items being listed, there is often the possibility to get a better price on an item simply by asking for it. If you think you can get a better price, always ask for more than you think you might get, but not an amount that's absurd. For example, I saw a high-quality Kaloo mobile for sale for $30, and I was willing to pay $25 for it, so I offered $20. The seller counter-offered for $25, so I got my price.
3) Be strategic about when you are shopping. If possible, shop close to the end of the month, the end of the school year, or the end of the season to get the best deals. Ice skates will be better priced in April because the seller won't want to store them for the summer.
4) Ask what else the seller has for sale. Often times, people list items when they are moving or have a major life change. While doing baby shopping, I had a bouncy chair, an extra bag of clothes, and a lovely toy thrown in because the seller was looking to move their items.
5) Be fearless! (Of course, this is good general advice as well.) Recently, I spoke to a seller about Craigslist and Kijiji, and she told me that she doesn't post on Kijiji because most of the buyers and sellers in Montreal are French speakers and she doesn't speak French. Now, living in Montreal, it's often French first, but most people are either also fluent in English or can at least get by. I told her that if I found a cell phone and a futon on second hand sites while I was living in Sweden and didn't speak any Swedish, she can get by in Montreal with just English! So whatever your desire is - you want the item for half of the asking price, you want the item delivered, you want the seller to hold the item until you can pick it up - just ask for it. The worst that could happen is the seller could say no.

Do you have other suggestions for second-hand shopping? Please post them in the comments!

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