Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I Dream of Craigslist

About ten years ago, I went into the Mission in Steubenville, OH, looking for a desk. I had the budget of a college student supporting herself on a minimum-wage campus job, and the tastes of the yuppie demographic specifically targeted by Pottery Barn. The Mission was (and still is, for all I know) a second-hand store that rambled all the gutted shell of a once-ornate Victorian manse -- perhaps in reflection of the decline of the Steubenville area, which once had one of the highest per-capita incomes in the country in the grand days of steel and the mob. Styles were changing in the Ohio River Valley, and the Mission was jam-packed with stuff people had cleared out of grandma's sitting room or attic. Unfortunately, even at fire-sale prices most of the elegant pieces were well out of my reach, but I did find a cute little corner desk with an old fashioned drawer handle and a veneer top on which I could and did set drinks.

The corner desk held up fairly well over the years, but with the advent of small children who would sit and kick it while watching a movie on the computer, it became time for something more sturdy. However, second-hand stores are passe now with the redecorating crew. If you want to buy used, you've got to turn to the local Craigslist.

Spending a few days scouring Craigslist reveals much about your own tastes. I've found that I will almost automatically click on any listing (regardless of item for sale) which contains the following terms:
  • vintage (this one is often disappointing -- people try to foist their burnt-orange 70s-era couches on innocent buyers by labeling them "vintage")
  • antique
  • solid wood
  • green (the color, not the environmental designation)
  • armoire (unless designated as pine)
  • Pottery Barn (yes, I'm a sucker)
  • victorian
  • craftsman
  • queen sleigh bed (in honor of the bed that the roach destroyed, still not replaced)
Terms that repel me:
  • southwestern
  • rustic
  • pine
  • Eurway (ultra-svelte modern is not my style, it seems)
  • IKEA
  • plaid
When designations coincide -- "Solid wood pine plaid victorian couch from IKEA!!!" -- I skip it. The seller is obviously crazy.

I also skip any ad without a picture. It boggles the mind how anyone thinks they're going to sell a $700 dining room set without providing an image for the prospective purchaser to consider. What am I, crazy? I'm not even looking for a dining room set, and it annoys me.

As it happens, Craigslist provided us with a desk: a old teacher's desk remaindered by the Boston public school system, and as sturdy as you like. It was a bit battered, but Darwin sanded it down and refinished it, and I scrubbed the drawer handles with steel wool until they shone. It looks pretty fine, and I'll put up a picture if I can ever find the cable for the digital camera.

And I have a corner desk, medium honey tone with veneer top, one leg kinda wobbly but still works okay, if anyone's interested.


Kyle Cupp said...

I miss the mission. Got a few good sportcoats there for a couple bucks.

TS said...

I've found that I will almost automatically click on any listing that mentions the word toilet next to words like "powerful flush", "non-clog" or...

Never gets old, 'eh?

Actually I'm starting to take my toilet for granted if you can believe it. We humans are a fickle breed.

Melanie Bettinelli said...

I'm with you on skipping over the listings with no pictures. I got Dom a dresser last summer from Craig's list. Right now I'm on the prowl for a toddler bed. We've also given away quite a few things that way. It's nice to see things we've outgrown become someone else's treasure. The happy smiles of college students discovering cheap treasures are priceless.

Kiwi Nomad said...

This New Zealand parish is welcoming a whole lot of pilgrims from Steubenville after WYD.
Sorry can't get the link need to go to the newsletter page...