I clicked over to the free section and there he was. A beautiful, 2 year old, long-haired maine coon. The ad went on to describe why the woman had to give him up. Some young relatives were going to be moving in with the woman and she had to find the cat another home. She was heartbroken. When I saw the ad I didn’t hesitate. I emailed her immediately and told her she would be hard pressed to find someone that likes cats as much as I do. Forty five minutes later, we had a new member of the family. It’s just been one more way that Craigslist has changed my life.
Here are some of the bigger things I’ve received from Craigslist over the past five years.
A job when I needed one.
When my family and I moved back to the mainland 5 years ago, I needed a job quickly. The first thing I did was get on Craigslist and start looking in the gig section. I responded to an ad that someone had placed looking for a construction helper for a project they were working on. That gig turned into over a month of solid work. One of the best parts of the job was that I got paid at the end of each day, which is huge when you are low on funds.
Our family’s first van.
A year or so later, with our family growing, we needed to buy a minivan. I turned to Craigslist. Over the course of a few weeks of looking, we found a really nice, affordable Toyota Sienna in the for sale by owner section. This van was immaculate, as the previous owners had gone to great lengths to keep it in near perfect condition. We got it at a great price and the sellers got more for it than the dealer was offering them. A win for us and for them.
An entrepreneurial sandbox.
The first day I started buying and selling a few years back, I needed to make money fast. I needed to be able to find a good number of items that I could buy and then resell for a profit. The Craigslist marketplace provided those items and provided them abundantly!
After picking up the items I found on Craigslist, I needed a place to resell them, and had very little money to spend on the process. The Craigslist marketplace came through again. I was basically provided a free entrepreneurial sandbox where I could test different types of ads, use pictures, varied descriptions and test out various prices all for free. I was being given free access to thousands of potential local buyers. I have been around long enough in this world to remember when you had to pay a good bit of money to take out an ad in the local newspaper to sell something. What Craigslist allows a person to do today for free, is an amazing thing.
As I continued to buy and sell just about every type of item you could imagine, I slowly started to gravitate towards one particular category. Appliances. Craigslist provided me sandbox that exposed me to the appliance trade.
Starting a business is extremely hard. Most new businesses fail. Mine had all the signs of being no different. I had a strong desire to succeed, was willing to work hard and I had a willingness to learn. What I needed was a marketplace that would allow me to grow my business without depleting me of much needed resources in the beginning. Craigslist provided that marketplace. They have single handedly lowered the barrier to entry for entrepreneurs in this country. Where our government taxes, and clutters with red tape and generally makes it entirely miserable for any budding entrepreneur, Craigslist quietly enters the scene and says that there is a better way. They have provided a simple marketplace for people and businesses to connect with their neighbors, for free. It’s like an old man opening up his enormous property in the center of town for the local’s to come together and buy, sell and trade their wares outside the iron grip of the established businesses. It’s no wonder why so many established businesses and entire industries hate Craigslist. They hate competition. Craigslist has leveled the playing field and made the world a better place in the process.
Provided me new friends.
Through making my living on Craigslist, and subsequently writing about it on this blog, I’ve made many new friends from all over the US, and even around the world. Some I have just received emails from, others regular correspondence. Some I have been coaching and helping through the very same process that I’ve been going through the past few years. I am hoping to meet many of you in the years to come in meetups in various places across the country. I’ve always wanted to drive to the east coast and back, seeing various places along the way. Now I have hundreds, maybe thousands of reasons to! It really has been cool getting to know so many of you.
I love cats. Our family always had a few of them growing up. After my wife and I got married, we got a cat the first year we were married. His name was Spurgeon. When we moved to Hawaii, I chose to leave him with my parents rather than subject him to all the crazy hoops that it takes to move an animal to a tropical island. A few months after we left he escaped from my parents house and ran away. (They later found him a year or so later living at a house in their neighborhood. He has a great new home.)
When we returned to the mainland, we went catless for five, long years. The drought ended about a month ago when I found the cat I mentioned above on Craigslist. He’s an awesome cat. He sits in my office all day long and keeps me company. At night, he hops around the house trying to get me to play with him. I rarely refuse. The first thing that my kids do in the morning is run out of their room to go find the cat.
Tonight, when we returned home from being gone all day at a family reunion, I came inside looking for the cat. After looking in all the normal places, I found him in my closet. He was curled up in a ball on my underwear on top of my dresser. At that moment, filled with gratitude for my new little cat friend, I was reminded yet again where he came from.
To Craig Newmark, Jim Buckmaster and all the rest of the hardworking team at Craigslist…my sincerest thank you.
I’d love to hear some of your stories of how Craigslist has helped you out. It would be awesome if this became the post with the most comments, because they deserve to hear people’s appreciation. If you have a moment, send a note to Craig, or the team.