Friday, January 2, 2009

Community Classifieds on Craigslist

I spent about an hour on craigslist this morning looking for a Murphy bed, killing time while I tried to come up with an idea for today’s blog. I was leaning toward a philosophical piece on Time: How Time serves us as a grid to measure our progress with those New Year’s Resolutions, but I didn’t have the oomph or post-holiday brain cells to tackle that. Suddenly it hit me. Here I was using this great, free service. I could write about craigslist.

Craigslist calls itself an online community, and is the online presence of that community. Although it has forums, a blog and a foundation, I think the thing that is used by most people is the classified section. My husband uses it all the time to buy tools. My son is a cyclist and buys bike parts there. My daughter bought a cotton candy machine, a spinning wheel and a treadmill. One son sold his apartment contract over the holidays on craigslist, and another found a job there. My daughter-in-law checked out a tongue-in-cheek ad about a child for sale. The child turned out to be autistic, and my D-I-L, also mother of an autistic boy, became fast friends with the lady who posted the ad as a therapeutic way of dealing with her situation.

Craigslist began in 1995 when a man by the name of Craig Newmark set up an email list of San Francisco events as a hobby. It has evolved into a site where users self-publish more that 30 million new classified ads each month. These are people from more than 550 cities in over 50 countries. More than 40 million people in the US alone use craigslist each month. Though it is a for-profit corporation, it is still free to most users. The company makes money by charging small fees for job ads in several major cities.

When you go to the home page, you see that it’s very utilitarian, not glitzy at all. I like that. There are some cities listed that you can click on to find local classifieds, but if you will click on your state (under the US States column), the various local areas will come up and you can pinpoint the area you want to search more accurately.

I like craigslist better than Ebay because you can deal locally and because you can contact the seller and look, consider, and haggle before buying. My cyclist son likes it because of the sense of community that he finds and the contacts he has made through craigslist. That’s because it gives you ability to shop locally.

I’m heading back there right now. As I said, I’m looking for a Murphy bed so I can maintain guest capacity while making room for the elliptical trainer I bought on craigslist—part of my New Year’s resolution to get fit.

Wish me luck.

Return to the Neighborhood

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