Thursday, January 15, 2009

Listless in Sacramento

Moving from a 1000sqft. home* to a gigantic McMansion rental almost 3 times the size, we quickly became the repository of choice for all our family’s unwanted furnishings. Now that we are downsizing, we are attempting to unload some of the items, and purge the last of our baby items. After checking with family first, I was given permission to sell.

Back in the D.C. area we bought and sold a fair amount on Craigslist. I usually get a pretty good idea of price points by looking at other listings and the Target/WalMart price for an item. I almost never had to relist items at a lower price.

So I was rather astonished, as I haven’t received any serious inquiries for any of our items so far. To give an example, one item, I saw at Target for $200, we listed for $75 or best offer (in excellent shape, and the leading quality brand). At first I was thinking, it might be our location, after all, EDH is not very central. So yesterday I offered it to my daycare (for free), since they could use it. The lady I spoke with relayed a very similar experience with Craigslist she had recently (pennies on the dollar for an almost new item), and she lives in the Rosemont area. So there goes that theory.

I find this situation rather perplexing and somewhat disturbing. You would think more folks would be turning to CL for purchases instead of buying new (especially for durable items like furniture). At the same time, I wonder if there are too many distressed folks downsizing, thus flooding the market and depressing prices?

Any way you look at it, this is a very very bad (anecdotal) indicator, when even the second hand market for items is in a slump. I almost want to post a listing for an unbelievable deal, to test my hypothesis and see if I would get a response.

*Our place in D.C. had a finished walk-out basement. For reasons I have never understood, they don’t include basements in the square footage.


Deflationary Jane said...


Not only have people pulled back and downsized, they have pulled wayyyyyy back and you're lucky if the people are remaining in the state. The changes from Sept/Oct to today have been fast and brutal and caught even me by surprise and I've been looking for it since June 2006. I'm always too early it seems.

--Little back story for folks who aren't long time readers--

I bought my first Louboutin's a couple of years ago dirt cheap on ebay. They were just sitting in this womans' closet with maybe a day's worth of wear- Total score!So I got to thinking? What happens when everyone starts downsizing devesting themselves of MEW items.

This triggered my downsizing push in 06 and 07 because I feared the market would flood, remember that? What we have today is what I feared and I wanted something (anything really) for what still held value. That and I wanted to be pretty mobile in case we had out of state job offers.

--back to today--

Friend sold his place in Palo Alto. The writing was on the wall and he was shocked at what he got for it but selling off his used items on CL? He ended up giving most of it away. The exceptions were collector's items like his Eames hutch and then he was aggressively lowballed and still took weeks to sell.

Another great ancedote: picked up a case and a half of Bollinger special cuvee for 18.60 a 750 ml bottle in Nov. This was in the Bay Area. Retail is still about 65 I think. When I can grab a case or two of Turley old vine zin at significant mark downs (late 90s vintages for you cork dorks like me), I'll let you know because that will be an event.

as always YMMV

Buying Time said...

DJ - I need to put you in charge of the glossary. I can't keep up with you. Wasn't till yesterday that I figured out what J6P was. YMMV?

I do think luxury items will take the hardest hit. The holidays bore this out to some degree. Personally I never understood the $1,500 handbag or watch fetish.

Deflationary Jane said...

Your Mileage May Very >; )

--whips out her material culture soapbox--

I do get the luxury thing but only when it comes to function first and must be met with form. Much of what people think of as luxury has moved over into designer. True luxury items usually timeless style and amazing durablity.

One classic rolex day/date will last me 20+ yrs. A well-made shoe feels totally different but a fabulous pair of nude pumps will be a once every 3 years purchase. Compare that to trashing a cheap shoe every 4 months (not even going into what they do to you feet!) Most people would be floored at how small my closet is - more downsizing? **evil grins**

I do draw the line at the 1500 handbag. I'm brutal on them, same with jewelry. Noone can kill a tiffany setting or high quality patent leather like me. I loved my sturdy well made coach bags. Now I can't stand the brand as they completely changed and not for the good. I haven't found anything to replace them yet and I've been looking since 02.

One thing I should mention about downsizing, it's amazing on how it uncluttered my mind. I worry about big things now and not which sweater or suit is at the dry cleaners. I can be completely moved in an afternoon and that is very freeing. If I want anything new, something has to go and that's really changed my thinking and spending.

Jacob said...

Your Mileage May Very, basically means your experience my be different.

If for example a store is having a sale and you see a post online about it they might put YMMV to indicate that it is a local or store by store promotion and not necessarily a national sale.

I remember reading an article a few months back about people trying to take their tuscan (knockoff probably) furnature to stores to sell and the stores couldn't take it cause they have so much already. They suggested eBay and Craigslist and the people had already tried that with no luck.

There is a lot of "stuff" out there that people bought and don't need. Now is not the best time to try and sell.

If you don't know if you will have a job in a month you certainly don't need a $1500 handbag (if you ever did).

That said, there are a lot of deals out there for buyers.

sacramentia said...

I've been finding great deals on CL too - seems like everyone I talk to is 'cleaning out the garage' I just bought my kid a barely used $5k bike for 1300. I don't understand expensive bags and expensive wine, but I waste my share of money so I'm not one to judge.

Husmanen said...

CL can be hit and miss sometimes when selling things.

Not too long ago I picked up an expensive pool filter, 2 years old, for 30% of the cost of a new one.

The guy was selling everything because the house was in foreclosure.

patient renter said...

I'm currently enjoying the fruits of cheaper than normal goods on craigslist, but suffering the same problem selling some stuff. You get what you get.

PeonInChief said...

Wow, you all have lots more fun shopping than I do. I stress over paying $100 for a pair of shoes.

Aidian said...

The problem with CL for me is that Sacto is so sprawling. I'll see lots of good deals for stuff, but usually farther than I want to drive....