The Sad Search for the Perfect Dresser and Six Craigslist Rookie Mistakes

Get out your tissues.

Que the wamp wamp music.

This here is a long and sad story, folks.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In case you missed my last post, I’ve been working on updating our family room.  That involved selling our old entertainment center and beginning the (endless!) search on Craigslist for a new dresser/sideboard.  That “search” started three weeks ago, and I’ve been checking Craigslist at least 10 times a day for something—that with a little TLC—could look a little bit like this:

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(from my new favorite blog, YoungHouseLove)

Or, look a little bit like this guy (they painted only the top of the dresser white, and stained the wood dark, which I think gives it a really fresh look):

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(also from YoungHouseLove)

So, in my first week of Craigslist searching stalking I found this winner, which I was too late in asking on:

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As well as this one:

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Too late on both, and that was ok. I was fine to part with them, and besides, I had made some pretty foolish rookie mistakes in getting my hands on these.  

Rookie Mistake #1: Thinking that you are probably the only person that would want [insert Craigslist item], so it’s ok to ponder a bit if you’d like to email the seller.

Which leads me to 

Rookie Mistake #2: Emailing the seller.  

Yep, email is the equivalent of good old fashioned snail mail in Craigslist world, so only email if it’s the sole way to contact the seller.  Both of the dressers above fell through in the first week of my search, so I was just getting started on learning the business of Craigslist and weeding out those rookie habits of mine.

Week two: I continued to search and found two more dressers that didn’t. even. stay. on. Craigslist. long. enough. to. snap. a. screen. shot.  Yep, one Saturday I found two pretty great wooden dressers (both of which looked more like my second inspiration dresser) and they were each listed for under $20, too—way under my $50 budget!

So, Rookie mistake #3: Not checking Craigslist extra-frequently on the weekend.

Craigslist explodes on the weekends, so check it every fifteen minutes.  You think I’m kidding.

No worries though, because come that following Monday morning (at 6:45am) I found this one…and my heart was sold.

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It’s beautiful, it’s it?  A wonderful, fresh and white modern twist on mid-century design.  No sanding.  No repainting.  I wanted it.

Now, I had learned my first two rookie mistakes!  So I didn’t ponder if I wanted it (#1), and I didn’t email (#2).  Instead, I texted the seller right then at 6:45am and guess what…I was number two on the list.  But he would let me know if the deal fell through!  Which (36 agonizing hours later) it did not.

Yep, that dresser was a little hard to part with.  It was my fifth find that I had to let go.  I had imagined myself hugging it once we had placed it in our living room.  I was a little too attached (you could say).

So, Rookie Mistake #4: Don’t text—always call.

I’m pretty serious about this lesson, and you’ll see my reasoning for it once we get to how I learned lessons #5-7 (oh, the lessons that really hurt).

Week three: I know the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  So, sometimes you’ve just got to hit the pavement!  In weeks two and three I visited a total of three thrift stores and one estate sale, and came out on the other side with a whole lot of notta.  Disappointing for sure, but I had to try it—because that beautiful dresser wasn’t just going to show up on my doorstep (though that would be awesome).  

I knew I had to try some different approaches though, because my current search results just weren’t doing it for me.  There had to be more dressers out there, and I was determined to find them!  So, through a little conversation with my dad—who is driving up in a month and offered to put a dresser in the Suburban if I found one on Craigslist Denver (I have an awesome dad)—I realized I needed to expand my search beyond Seattle.  I looked at Denver for a bit, but didn’t find much of anything.  Then I searched a little north of Seattle, in the Bellingham area, and was happily surprised to find plenty of estate/thrift stores selling their furniture items on Craigslist.  Which is how I found this guy (we would remove the mirror of course):

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But can you guess it?  Yep, sold.

(Just let it be.  Just let it be.)

So, I continued searching…again.  And at 8:10am this morning, a mere 22 minutes after it was posted, I found this guy and knew I wanted it:

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It was listed for a mere $40—a complete STEAL.  I called right away.  And guess what: I was the first caller!  I was thrilled!  I told the seller I would take it for sure and that I’d come up to get it the next day (since they were an hour north of Seattle and I was, hello, working).

I was giddy.  I kept looking at it and thinking “This one is mine!”  I imagined myself hugging this one, too.  It was so perfect, and I couldn’t believe I had called first!  That wood looked beautiful and the design was perfect, and all for only $40.  Surely this was dresser heaven—my “reward” for waiting so long.  I worked out some truck coordinating with a friend of ours and let the seller know I would be up at 10am the next day to pick it up.  To which he replied (and I quote):

"Someone offered me almost double and came and picked it up this afternoon.  So sorry Beth :(."

I couldn’t believe it.  I was shocked.  Wait, what?  I thought I had this one!  Didn’t I call first?  Didn’t I tell you “I’ll take it for sure!”?  Didn’t we have a deal?  No warning that someone else was offering more for it?  I was baffled.  And cried (just a teeny bit).  That’s when I learned my next three Rookie Mistakes, all in my not-so-tearful-but-still-sad drive home from work.

Rookie Mistake #5: Not verbally confirming a deal.  

Have the seller confirm verbally that the Craigslist item is yours.  While a verbal agreement is in no way binding, I’m hopeful it would be a little bit harder for a seller to break.  He never told me the dresser was mine (though anyone with half a heart would agree it was).

Rookie Mistake #6: Not offering more than the asking price.

If you really want an item, and it’s in your budget to do so, offer more than the asking price.  Given I would have only been able to offer $10 more than the asking price (remember my $50 limit?) it may not have helped in this case.  But, it’s good to know for any possible future haggling.

Rookie Mistake #7: Thinking that an item is yours before you have it.  

Showing up, hauling away a Craigslist item, and handing over some cash is the only way you are guaranteed to buy anything on Craigslist.What matters to sellers is getting the item sold, so show up as soon as possible.  They want the item gone, so be the person that takes it away.

Phew, what a saga.  I’ll be back to stalking Craigslist tomorrow, and may even toss in a trip to a thrift store for good measure.  (I have a stubborn bone in me at times!).  But I’ve learned one more lesson in this search for the perfect dresser.  It’s a lesson I already knew, but need to be reminded of again, and again.  And again.  The lesson is this: I can place no ounce of my happiness or fulfillment in anything else but Jesus.  It’s ridiculous to think how much satisfaction that dresser would have given me (to which my very sweet and caring husband reminded me, “It would have only made you happy for a little while”).  So true that is.  I once heard that “we are too easily satisfied” and I believe that’s true, especially when we can hop around from one happy-filling-thing to the next.  The only truly, life-giving, never-ending, fulfilling and satisfying thing we have is Jesus, and the deeper I realize that, the better.

And if it takes a dresser hunt for Him to remind me of that, I say go for it.

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