I buy and sell from sources like Craig’s List and Offer Up all the time. Mostly because I enjoy refurbishing and customizing 3 wheel adult bicycles which has become a hobby of mine but I have also dabbled in musical instruments and lately I was on the hunt for a Kitchenaid standup mixer because I like making bread but I hate kneading dough. So though I’m no “expert” I have a substantial amount of experience buying from private people because I’m a cheap bastard.
When I was dealing in bicycles and musical instruments every deal went off without a hitch in fact I met some very nice people and wondered what all the “beware” these sources was all about. That all changed when I went seeking the stand up mixer.
If you’re not familiar with the Hobart mixer it is the only mixer anyone serious about cooking would ever consider owning and the prices for this mixer range from about $200 to over $800 depending on the model. Yes that is right you can buy an $800 mixer for your home kitchen. Even $200 seems a little out there to most people …. unless you like baking things and especially if you’re getting a bit up there in age and your hands aren’t working the way they did when you were a 20 year old snot nosed kid. To give a short explanation, it is a gear driven machine that is easily repaired (plenty of repair videos on YouTube), and has a real retro 50’s look to it so it looks great on your kitchen counter top. Of course if you spend that much on a mixer you’re not going to hide it in the cabinet so it becomes as much of a decoration as it does a tool for baking.
So why did I have so much trouble finding a Kitchenaid stand up mixer on both Craigs List and Offer Up that I broke down and shelled out $250 for a 5 quart Professional Series? Well first of all many of the sellers had a bloated idea of what a used counter-top appliance was actually worth because many had paid full retail for the item. That can be as much as of difference of $200 and you see these units posted 6 months ago on these sites with the sellers clueless about why their mixer didn’t sell.
Second is that the mixer is about the best bait for the criminally minded that you can imagine. See everyone who cooks wants one of these gems but not everyone is willing or able to dish out that kinda money at the mall for one so a lot of people seek the item. What I found was that the sellers of the mixers came in only two categories the ones who had overpriced their mixers and the people who make the hair on the back of your neck stick up.
The first incident was with a woman who lived about 10 miles from me. She had a black 5 series she was selling for $100 that looked like it was in great shape and I was good to go cash in hand. She wouldn’t give me her phone number or address so I just assumed she was a single girl and was being cautious when she said she wanted to meet me in the parking lot of a pet store right off the interstate. I would have been cool with that but I asked her were would I test the machine to make sure it worked. I never heard from her again. I emailed her a couple of days later and offered to let her bring it to my home and I live in a very nice neighborhood she could have Google mapped but I got no response. The ad is still in Craig’s list for a month now and at $100 it is a pretty good deal so it should have sold quickly. Obviously something was seriously wrong here. At the very least the machine didn’t work and at the worse I might have gotten mugged or worse.
I must have made offers on at least a dozen of these units and it was always the same. Either the seller had grossly overestimated the value of the unit or there was something seriously shady going on.
The point is this, if you are going to buy something on one of these sites one of the things you have to take into consideration is the desirability of the item. People who mean to do bad things to other people aren’t going to be offering something few people are looking for so extra care should be taken when looking for things like mixers and cell phones, things easily transported. Always Google map the location you are to meet the buyer or seller at. Sometimes I buy things in very shady neighborhoods and I also like to know the lay out of the neighborhood in case I need to make a quick exit. If there is any hesitation to give you a phone number or if they won’t give you the address until you are close to their location (ie call them when you get close) forget about it. Always tell a family member or friend where you are going and the contact information (addy and phone number) of the person you are meeting with even if you’re a tough guy. Women always bring an alpha male with you.
Look you might have bought hundreds of items from people from the newspaper or the internet without incident but it only takes one time and your well being and maybe even your life isn’t worth taking a risk you could easily aviod.
And finally, before you buy or sell anything do a little research. People aren’t going to these sources for a fair deal they can get that in the store, they are looking for a great deal so if you really want to sell don’t be stupid. Rule of thumb is that when you purchase a new item, the minute you open the box it is worth about half of what you spent on it and that would be its retail pawn shop value. Pawn shops are safer and less risky so you’ll want to undercut them to get someones attention.
I ended up purchasing the 5 Series Professional Kitchenaid mixer (in Empire Red yay) for just under $250 after spending a couple of hours online looking for the best deal. The best used deal I saw for the same mixer was $175 so the choice was pretty easy.