May 4, 2010

Craigslist or the Pennysaver?

When I want to purchase SOMETHING, used or vintage, do I read the local Pennysaver or sign-on to Craigslist? Does it really have to be an either – or? I’ve heard similar sentiments about ebook readers and print books. Set up like a competition and as a reader and consumer I’m supposed to choose a winner. Can’t someone love both, read both – ebooks or print books, e-commerce sites or old-fashioned advertising circulars – and appreciate their differences? I do.

If you want to buy used stuff, are looking for a dining room table OR a place to live, a car, a companion, a carpenter, a job, or a yard sale, chances are you can find the item on Craigslist or in the Pennysaver.

Craigslist is online, easy, updated daily, listed chronologically by topic, and their best item postings have a photo. When perusing used furniture “a picture is worth a thousand words” definitely sums it up. I don’t want to take time to drive to your house and not be interested in the dining table you have for sale – but a quick look at your Craigslist photo lets me know whether it is worth the drive.

The local Pennysaver is a gem, not anemically thin like I’ve seen in some neighborhoods. The newsprint weekly doesn’t include photos of items. Except in the real estate section (and those are enticing thumbnails). Although the item listings are supposedly alphabetized, there is often an amusing chaos to the whole thing. You might think that one would look under “W” for “water cooler” but last week’s entry for the item was in the “D” section for ‘Doctors Office Style Refrigerated water cooler.”

Craigslist postings are free; Pennysaver sellers are charged for listings of items over $99. Makes me wonder what the deal is when a seller keeps listing the same overpriced item for weeks or months. Maybe the sellers of a $500 dollhouse, a $200 violin or the $900 composting toilet (actual recent recurring listings) would do better off listing on Craigslist.

Sometimes Craigslist readers even offer – unsolicited – advice to sellers. The Beatles lunchbox – pictured below – was offered at Craigslist for $675. A couple of days later a comment appeared basically saying – hey what’s up dude? Same thing is going over at ebay for between $200 and $300.
I've never seen such expensive collectibles in the Pennysaver (and it wouldn't be as good if they did -- the lunchbox listing just doesn’t elicit the same memories without the visual).

So if I want to be efficient I quickly navigate online -- I go to my bookmark for Craigslist:Binghamton, click on the For Sale-Furniture and click on any item of interest that includes a “pic.”

But if I want to be truly entertained, I sit down with my Pennysaver.
Last week I could have scored a tourist spoon collection, or “approx. 45 clowns, many sizes, $25.” I learned that “Due to health issues, the Evans’s have discontinued their farming operation and will be selling farm machinery and tools at public auction.” I read menus and hours of local eateries – a new one recently opened nearby but most of us locals know the chef, so they mentioned him by name and his former place of employment and I noted that what I call Sunday brunch is still not the phrase used here in upstate NY. Like in a “Chicken and biscuit dinner at the church will be held from 11:30 to 2 PM”

Both Craigslist and the Pennysaver feature ads for jobs. Though if you have perused the section lately online you’ll notice that it takes a few extra clicks to read the
postings – they only come after the page warning the reader of various scams. But in the Pennysaver I had to read an ad twice. Thinking the display ad was for baseball players, I soon saw my mistake , “Pitchers wanted” was for a horseshow club.

Do you read/use either a Pennysaver or Craigslist? What do you think?

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