Craigslist vs. eBay: Where to Sell 10 Common Items

by G.E. Miller on 2 June 2011 11 comments

Craigslist or eBay? When you are trying to get rid of clutter around your house and make a little extra money, that question can be challenging. Particularly when you want to get the biggest return possible for what you are selling. (See also: The 9 Secrets of Highly Successful Craigslist Sellers)

With each item, you'll want to consider the following:

  • How much would shipping cost?
  • Is the extra income I'd make via eBay worth the hassle of shipping it out?
  • Do I want to risk auctioning the item or go with the safe-bet price?
  • Are there enough people in my vicinity to sell the item through Craigslist at all?
  • Is the risk of meeting a stranger on Craigslist worth a few extra bucks?

So why don't we take a look at 10 common items that you may sell through an online ad and see if it makes more sense to post each item on Craigslist or eBay.

1. Furniture

You may be able to fetch more for a given piece via eBay, but shipping costs can be absolutely prohibitive unless you're talking about a smaller, highly coveted piece of furniture (i.e., an antique). I was just able to sell an old bed via Craigslist for $150. The shipping would have been at least that much if I tried to sell it on eBay. Winner: Craigslist

2. Media Items

When you are selling individual books, CDs, DVDs, video games, or vinyl, demand is often a necessity in order to find a buyer. Winner: eBay

3. Vehicles, Recreational Vehicles, and Bikes

Cars on Craigslist has become a big business. I was able to sell a car for the same price I bought it (used) two years earlier. The demand is sky-high. Once again, shipping becomes a prohibitive factor here unless you have something very unique that could fetch a much higher price with the added demand you'll get via eBay. It's also tough to find buyers who are willing to shell out significant funds without first checking the condition. Winner: Craigslist

4. TVs

There will be a local supply/demand for just about any type of TV on or off the market. At the same time, they are very heavy and fragile, which poses major shipping concerns. Winner: Craigslist

5. Event Tickets

I've really struggled with this one myself. I have only bought tickets from Craigslist ads; I've found that eBay prices are too high, and I can get a better deal buying from someone locally in the last few days or hours before an event. But this post isn't about buying, it's about selling. If you have tickets for a high-demand event and have a few months or weeks to sell and ship them off, eBay is the way to go. If you have to unload a ticket a few days prior to an event or less, Craigslist may be the only option. Winner: Depends on the timeframe

6. Clothing

The fact that you can try something on in person might work out to your advantage if you list via Craigslist. But 9 times out of 10 (if you're as picky of a clothing buyer as I am) it will not. When you sell via eBay, the buyer will rarely return the item if it comes as promised. If they don't like the way it looks on them, they'll usually just re-sell it. Also, shipping is often inexpensive. Winner: eBay

7. Used Cell Phones

I've seen three-year-old outdated cell phones bid on up to over $50 on eBay. My theory on this? People fall in love with particular models, are locked in to contracts, and when their devices fail them, have to get them back. Because they can no longer easily find the older phones, they are willing to bid up to surprising levels on EBay. This is definitely a category that benefits from nationwide demand. Winner: eBay

8. Computers

Computers are such a commodity with the only big differentiators being the hardware and operating system, that they are frequently bought and sold at the local level. They can also be pricey to ship and very fragile, and a computer is an item that people may want to try out before buying used. Winner: Craigslist

9. Tools

Tools are a category where size really does matter. The smaller the tool, the more likely you'll be able to fetch a larger amount for it on eBay because of higher demand and lower shipping costs. The bigger the tool, the more likely you'll have significant local demand for it, and shipping costs become prohibitive. Bigger tools usually fetch higher prices, too, and buyers typically want to look them over. Wow, so many innuendos. Winner: Depends on tool size

10. Pet Supplies

When Fido goes to that little doggy place in the sky, he often leaves behind dozens of items. Americans are expected to spend $51 billion on pet supplies in 2011. That's a lot of crates, beds, bowls, and more. You're typically not going to be able to re-sell small used toys, but there is a lot of demand out there for the larger pet items. Dozens, maybe hundreds of people in your community are becoming first-time pet owners every day. When local demand is high and shipping costs are as well, turn to Craigslist. Winner: Craigslist

Deciding whether to sell on Craigslist or eBay varies for every product. I've provided some general guidelines here, but there will always be exceptions. Before you list a product, I'd recommend that you check existing and completed listings for that product on eBay and also search for that same product on Craigslist. Find out what items have been sold for. That, along with estimating shipping costs, should give you a great idea which option will give you the best return.

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Guest's picture

Shipping is not only expensive, but there's less accountability when it comes to long-distance transactions on Craigslist. You're less likely to get scammed if you deal locally. And while it's true Craigslist meetings can be risky, just meet in public and don't go alone. I made a comic the other day about all the things NOT to do: http://blog.mangomoney.com/how-to/the-misadventures-of-a-craigslist-rookie

Also, there's a great free app you can download to your iPhone called BuddyGuard (www.BuddyGuard.org) that's intended for personal security in these types of situations.

Guest's picture
crowe

Sounds like the theme is: if you can ship it, eBay, otherwise, Craigslist.

Guest's picture
NJGill

Name me 5 eBay sellers who pay postage on auctioned items? This point is a no-brainer - shipping is always extra (and from the looks of the eBay listings I've been seeing lately, is actually an extra profit center, as most sellers charge WAY more than the actual postage to ship).

Guest's picture

Craigslist vs. Ebay - seems like a common topic these days. I, many months ago, was purchasing items on Craigslist or Ebay and then reselling the item on Craigslist for a small profit.

I made $50 or so in around 3 weeks, but in the end I felt like I was pulling one on people and I stopped.

I agree with the other comments - small and easy to ship = ebay / large and not easy to ship = Craigslist

Guest's picture

CL is great for selling furniture. I posted a bed on there and it sold immediately.

Guest's picture

There's also a geographocal argument. If you live here in the UK, despite the existence of Craigslist sites for all the major cities, no one uses it. It's a largely redundant brand here in the UK. People choose Ebay every time, whether there's shipping or not.

Guest's picture
Monica

I try to avoid using Craigslist after my friend got robbed at gun point when she was trying to buy an iphone from a seller before!

Ebay is the way to go!

withloveshmon.wordpress.com

Carmen Grant's picture

I now use http://www.SargesList.com - it is a listing site for the U.S. military community. people's emails can be verified as military members with a .mil email account or remain unverified - those that are verified as trusted military personnel have a distinct badge that is easily recognizable. After all the scary stuff on Craigslist I try to steer clear - but if I do find something I need or want on Craigslist I make sure to ALWAYS make a transaction in a public parking lot.

Guest's picture

Great article. Very informative. I've had really good success with purchasing children's furniture for my daughter on Craigslist. I've also been able to find decent apartment rentals there, although it varies widely by city. I've also been able to sell stuff like couches on Craigslist with ease.

Guest's picture

eBay is demonstrably the greatest calculated facilitator of auction fraud on consumers that the world is ever likely to know ... http://bit.ly/11F2eas

And the ugly reality for consumers, particularly smaller payees, dealing with the clunky, unscrupulous PayPal ... http://bit.ly/UVXx53

Guest's picture
Jack

I love this article. Each item is so different and most people just choose one method or another, when in reality, they should focus on what is best in each situation. I have also used gazelle (decent for phones) and optisell (music stuff and phones) for some stuff because I didnt have to haggle.