How To: Search on Craigslist

How To: Search on Craigslist

Jeanine Brennan
Jul 11, 2008

The other night we found ourselves sitting around after dinner with our dueling laptops, looking for unusual things for sale on Craigslist. We were having a contest seeing who could come up with the strangest item (gotta be family-friendly, extra points for items we'd actually buy), and it got us to thinking. How do you use Craigslist? When you're just poking around, what searches do you do?

If you just browse "collectibles" or "furniture," you miss out on a lot, because sometimes the best stuff is found under "Garden," "General" or "free stuff." So definitely, even slightly targeted searching is a better way to go. Here are some of the things we type into Craigslist when we're not looking for something specific:

- industrial -- tends to pull up cool signs and metal shelving like the orange shelves below currently on Boston CL. We bought our

this way.

- church -- yields interesting religious artifacts and old church pews. Also pulls up church sales (although you can exclude them, see below).

- (barn -pottery) -- this brings up old barn boards, and random things found in barns. And adding the "(minus sign) pottery" does not bring up anything from pottery barn.

- (french -connection -doors) -- we're always searching for that perfect antique French Louis chair. But we don't want to see any clothes from the French Connection, or french doors.

We're a bit spoiled in Boston because we have New Hampshire's Craigslist, Maine and Rhode Island-- they're all within a short drive from here. So we can lose ourselves just browsing if we don't have a plan.

It's a drag that you can't search multiple cities at once within Craigslist itself, but here are some tips we've learned for getting the best out of searching:

-- Did you know that you can search for either of two words in a listing? For example, if you are looking for a vintage couch OR sofa, put the two words in parenthesis and put an apostrophe in front of each of them: So search on this: vintage ('sofa, 'couch)

-- If you want to exclude a word, put a minus sign in front of the word you don't want to search on. For example, to find an Eames item that's not annoyingly referred to as "Eames era", type (eames -"eames era")

-- If you want to search on both singular and plural versions of a word, put an asterisk at the end of the word. For example, if you want a chair from The Conran Shop, but don't know if someone might refer to it as "Conrans", search for (chair conran*)

Some of the funniest things we saw the other night were a "fuse ball" table and an apple "iPot." We even saw a "slay bed." I guess no amount of searching would have pulled these up! Does anyone else have Craigslist searches or tips?


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