Find great vintage furniture deals on Craigslist — 4 tips to help improve your search

4 tips to find great vintage furniture deals on Craigslist

Kate Have you ever wondered how some people seem to have all the luck finding awesome vintage furniture and accessories on Craigslist? I’ve had so many people tell me that I am extremely lucky to have found an item on Craigslist for a decent price so easily! Well, it isn’t always easy, and with the rise in popularity of shows set in the 1950s and 1960s like Mad Men, it isn’t getting any easier or less expensive. That’s why I am sharing my four tried-and-true tips to help you find the vintage furniture of your dreams on Craigslist.

1. Intentionally use typos and misspellings in your search.

I’m sure most of you type any number of the following search terms when you are hunting for the good stuff on Craigslist: Mid Century, Retro, Eames, 1950s, 1960s, Broyhill Brasilia, etc. but have you tried searching for variations in spelling? Craigslist doesn’t have spell check and let’s face it, many people either can’t spell, or are in such a hurry to get their posting up, that they make minor mistakes. This can work in your favor! Looking for a Broyhill Brasilia piece? Try searching for various ways that is could be misspelled like broy hill, broyhil, or broyhille. I found my $50 Broyhill Sculptra dresser by searching for “broy hill.” Also, be sure to try variations of common terms: for example, not just “mid century” but also “midcentury” and “mid-century.”

2. Search with vague descriptions.

This has worked wonders for me as well! I scored my Burke tulip style end table for $25 from an elderly couple who were downsizing. They listed their table as “small, white round table.” Funny thing was, they knew exactly what they had, but they didn’t want to sell it to someone who would just turn it around and make more money on it. They wanted to affordably sell it to someone who would use it in their own house, enjoy it and appreciate it as much as they had (and I do!).

3. Search early and often.

Another method that I use to score the awesome stuff on Craigslist is to seach early and often. I’ve had most of my success finding the good stuff between the hours of 7 and 9 a.m. Many sellers honor the first-come, first-served mentality. If you are the first one to contact them and set up an appointment, you’ll be the one to score their furniture. Just make sure you get there as soon as possible, so they don’t change their mind and sell to someone who contacted them second, but can get there first. (If you are on the hunt for something, always be ready to get there fast with cash!) If I am on the hunt for something specific, say my Broyhill Brasilia bedroom set, I will search Craigslist every day at least three times a day. By keeping up on the posts as they come in, it will only take a minute or two to check and see what’s new.

4. Ask for individual item prices on overpriced sets.

When I found my Broyhill Brasilia bedroom set, it was listed for $600 for the headboard/footboard, long dresser with mirror, one nightstand, highboy dresser and the mattress. I asked the seller if she would break up the set, and she said yes. After I heard what she wanted for each individual part of the set, I realized that she valued the mattress higher than the furniture (as it was nearly new and high quality). I ended up getting the set of furniture for $275!

With these helpful tips, some persistence and a little bit of luck, you too can find treasures on Craigslist.

Do you have other tried-and-true tips for finding great stuff on Craigslist? The Retro Decorating Gods are sure to reward you for sharing your secrets with the rest of the tribe!

  1. Sherree says:

    I, too, do not find Craigslist user friendly. Many of the listings that come up when I search for something have NOTHING to do with what I am looking for 🙁 Maybe someone can tell me what I am doing wrong?
    Ebay, Etsy and the local newspaper are just much easier.
    That being said, I love your finds!
    Your dresser (also known as chest of drawers, chifferobe, wardrobe or bureau in some areas) is gorgeous!

  2. Annie B. says:

    Great tips, Kate. Love that Brasilia bedroom furniture of yours, lucky girl.

    One of my recent favorite (mis) spellings on an ad was “vintage beer stain”.

  3. Laura says:

    List Alert!

    Here’s the site: http://www.list-alert.com/

    You can put in your search terms and it will email you (with photos) of the new listings as soon as they are up! I am currently searching for a “new” vintage stove, so I have List Alert send me all new listings for vintage stove, antique stove, retro stove, retro oven, vintage range, etc. Every day I get listings sent right to my email.

    It takes all the hard work away! And, if you have emails sent to your phone, it will notify you ASAP with new listings 🙂

  4. Jeanne says:

    Hi Patch. I’m in Dearborn! I got those same exact pieces for $450 in Livonia a couple years ago. I’d be interested in additional pieces, but not at that price, wow! No wonder it hasn’t been snatched up yet.

  5. lynda says:

    Try searching for grandmother’s, parents, aunt, etc. The item is probably vintage if they are cleaning out a home of an older person. There are many ways to describe the same item. For instance there might be patio, garden, outdoor or deck furniture for the yard. Sometimes just putting in solid wood will pull up some of the older furniture too. I found a Conant Ball dining set that way for a friend. Also, I actually googled “rod iron” because I saw so many listings and I thought maybe it was a special kind of furniture I did not know about!

  6. beti1948 says:

    Sometimes people with put a list of keywords at the bottom of the ad just so their ad will show up under a variety of keyword searches. Some are relevant but I’m sure some are simply to drive traffic to their ad.

  7. lisa says:

    Lynda, that is so funny you googled “rod iron.” I also didn’t realize at first it was a misspelling and spend several moments trying to picture what it might be.

    My Craigslist tip is to search “Ikea” because I realized after looking on Craigslist that what I like from there is pretty much the same as what most other people like, too. Any time I’m thinking of buying an Ikea item I search Craigslist first. Even if the CL price isn’t that much lower than Ikea, which is often the case given the low starting point for Ikea stuff, it saves driving to the store and often having to assemble the item.

    Also, when I need a generic item like a bookcase I put my neighborhood name in the search box — when you are not looking for a midcentury treasure but just something to store stuff on in your laundry room it is nice not to have to drive too far to get it.

  8. Zola says:

    We have the same bedroom set, Kate! We found ours several years ago on Craigslist and paid $450, which we considered a steal. The only difference is that our set included a more traditional nightstand – with top drawer and open space below – while yours is a commode. And we just happen to have that same commode in our living room!

  9. Christine says:

    Love these ideas! I like to scouring craigslist and just the other day i scores a triple wishbone dining table with leaves for $150 and a small hey wake buffet for $50! Both need to be brought back from the dead but that is how i like them. Goodwill is great too…found a hey wake side table for $5!

  10. Christine says:

    Also try basic resale stores. We got a nearly perfect60″ steelcase desk for $200 at a warehouse that sells only office furniture. He sells cheap because he doesnt want to haggle with designers and such and wants to stay “off their radar”.

  11. Laura Thompson says:

    If searching Hey Wake, be sure to try “Haywood” too! Found good stuff with that.

  12. ChristyinTN says:

    I am ADDICTED to craigslist and have had nothing but great luck, and I’ve met some really cool people. I found a Broyhill Brasilia dining set-table 6 chairs, buffet and china cabinet..drum roll…….$300. Happy dance! I’ve done several happy dances, as well as almost peeling out of someone’s driveway from excitement and sometimes guilt..haha! One key search I have started using lately is 1960’s, 1960s, 60’s…even if they don’t know what they have usually they know its from that decade. I would love to see some pictures of people’s craigslist scores! It’s so much fun!!

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