Moving half way around the world requires, or you might even say encourages, a bit of downsizing. Not everything we have will fit in the shipping container, small appliances won’t work because of voltage differences, some stuff we just don’t need or want. So we’ve been purging.
Kijiji is our friend. It is amazing what kind of crap you can get rid of! Gone are the days of garage sales, of hauling things out to the lawn (or in Edmonton, to the back alley) for people to paw through, offer an outrageously low price, then drive on to the next pile of junk down the block, carrying your crock-pot.
At first we were apprehensive about Kijiji. Would it be worth it? Would we just end up with all our unwanted stuff still sitting in the house when the movers came? Would we make deals, then the person not show up? Would we end up selling items to serial killers or thieves who just wanted access to our house? But it has worked out really well. We’ve sold tons of stuff, from furniture to dvds to small appliances. And no sitting in the garage making idle chit-chat with bargain hunters.
The process is easy: post an ad on the free site, wait for someone to email you saying they want your item (sometimes making a lower offer, and being non-bargainers, we usually just say yes or no!), then make arrangements for them to come and pick it up. The transactions usually take seconds. Buyer comes to door, hands over cash, we hand over item. Goodbye. The best ones don’t even cross the threshold, like Dave, the dude who bought most of our dvds, standing on the front porch, smoking. Most do make it as far as the entry way however, and a few come even farther in, often to shop.
There was the guy who bought our big and clunky television from the basement. He had to come in to carry it out, but then got toured through the house looking at other items. He also took a paper shredder.
Some people end up in the garage, buying our garden tools. Tools are something that will not pass Australian customs inspection, because of the dirt. But these people seem to be good shoppers: one woman who bought a bulk lot of rakes, shovels, etc., saw the bags of mulch and topsoil, as well as some birdseed, and offered to buy those too. Sold! A guy buying a deep-root waterer (for trees) also bought a shopvac.
Our favorite garage transaction, however, didn’t make extra money. Francois, a young gentleman in a white cable-knit cardigan (Mr Rogers, anyone?), was here to buy our lawn mower. It was a reel mower from Lee Valley, the kind without a motor. As the mower sat over the winter, with no grass in the blade for lubrication, it was a bit hard for Francois to push.
Dan assured him, with a swift push of the mower, which made the reel spin freely, that it worked fine. Francois tried again… Dan re-demonstrated… Francois tried again… No luck. Again, Dan pushed, and it worked perfectly. Though a self-propelled model might have suited his stature a bit better, eventually Francois decided he would take it. He ended up offering a bit less than we were asking, but we happily accepted. Francois hefted the 24 pound (10 kilo) mower into his car next to his two little lap-dogs and drove away.
We hope Francois’ wife enjoys her new lawn mower.
Another great sale was our Beatles edition of Rockband for Wii. We got back what we had originally paid for it and it was going to be shipped to Winnipeg for a child’s 12th birthday.
Kijiji is a fun social experiment. It introduces you to a huge variety of people, and really lets you see how odd people can be in their expectations. While our transactions have been good, we’re sure that not everyone does as well. So far, only two or three people haven’t shown up to buy the item saved for them. Others will keep in touch and reschedule across multiple days when a conflict arises, just to get a good deal. Some of the offers we have received have been totally silly. People want things for almost nothing and then they want you to deliver them! Like the woman who got 3 huge boxes of novels for $10, and then asked us to bring them to her. No way, lady! This price was based on us not expending any energy or burning any gas. She even emailed later to wonder why only 1 (not all 3) of the Stieg Larsson books was included. Same for another woman buying dishes… You want our stuff cheap, you have to come get it.
Reading kijiji ads is hilarious. Yes, our Friday evenings have devolved to this level… schadenfreude fueled by too much wine (see last paragraph of this post). There are a lot of people who want things for nothing, or want them at outrageously low prices. Everyone, it seems, wants an iPad and somehow thinks that someone will sell them one, still sealed in the box, for 1/2 price. Or that someone will give them as-new furniture, and deliver it, just because they say they are getting out of an abusive relationship and need furniture. Do these ads really work? We don’t know. There’s a research study in there, somewhere…
Then there are the semi-literates who write ads so poorly you don’t really know what they have or want. There are several simply saying “I want a torch”. First thought is that they are Aussies and want what North Americans call a flashlight. Or maybe there is a group of people organizing a Survivor home-game and need to bring their own tiki-torches to snuff.
Or maybe, like most of us, they are fed up with Edmonton’s snowbanks and potholes and are going to storm city hall, demanding change (a la Frankenstein). But, eventually, we realized that what they really want is a Blackberry Torch. Dan thinks this is proof of the stupidity of kijiji users, because iPhones are superior. Lisa knows this is proof of Dan’s stupidity.
Many other posters can’t figure out the difference between a sell ad and a want ad. Pretty simple, really. You have something to sell, you put in the sell section. You want something, you put in the want section. Most of the mis-posts are stupid, though this one was creative: “WANT $200 FOR THE IPOD TOUCH. IF YOUR NOT WILLING TO PAY 200 PLEASE DO NOT CALL ITS 350 BRAND NEW AND IS STILL IN GOOD CONDITION……IF INTERESTED PLEASE CONTACT ME BACK AT THE FOLLOWING NUMBER…..” Technically, I guess it was in the right section – he didn’t say he was selling it, he wanted money and would give an ipod for it. No different than saying he wanted an ipod and would give money for it. How confusing!
Our favorite ad has since disappeared off the system, so we can’t repost here; but, it went something like this: “i need clothes and stuff for a yung girl i took in becuz her mom cant take care of her and she duznt have anything becuz their basement was full of poo and it all got ruined so i’ll take whatever you can give me”. Yes, that’s a direct quote – “poo” in the basement. The phrasing of the full post is close, though it is impossible for either of us to replicate it more accurately because we just spell too well. This post doesn’t have enough graphics, and as appealing as it might be to put one in here…well, just be glad we couldn’t find one.
So, the purging is almost done. Some things we got rid of in other ways, such as selling books to used book stores. Friends have been nice enough to take/buy things like plants (thanks A&G for giving ‘Dan the jade plant’ a good home!), some small appliances, whisky, wine, bicycles, futon… We still need to figure out what to do with our car; how do we get a good price but keep it to the last possible day that we need it? Anyone want to buy a 2006 Toyota Matrix? Good condition and all that… Price will be reasonable (we don’t like to bargain); delivery date June 9.
As for the binging aspect of this post, it is illegal to sell alcohol privately, so all the wine in the cellar must be consumed rather than sold. Some of it has been passed on to friends, but every dinner at home lately has included wine. And we take it with us wherever we go. Host a going away party for us and we bring our own drinks (any takers?). And maybe even beef, because we bought a 1/4 cow (dead, butchered, wrapped and frozen) last fall, but haven’t been home enough to eat much of it. And Dan still has a lot of obscure scotch to drink before we leave. So there is a bit more indulging going on recently, but we will detox when we get to Australia. Yeah, right…how many billions of bottles of wine do they produce each year? And Dan already has a lead on some Tasmanian whisky.