Friday, July 08, 2005

The ascendancy of Craigslist and virtual yard sales.

Over the past eight months the word Craigslist seems to be coming up in conversations more and more. Two months ago my friend Wayne sold a lot of his stuff prior to his garage sale when he listed it on the site. He said the stuff sold in one day. Will this free online listing service change the world of Yard Sales? How does the experience of a virtual yard sale compare with the tactile experience of digging through a pile of worthless junk?
This week in the absence of a multitude of sales I went to Craigslists the way a lonely but shy man goes to the Yahoo Dating site. I had no intention to buy anything but just wanted to look at other people’s stuff. Since at least a third of the ads had photos I was given at least a visual experience. The first garage sale listing I examined with photos was mesmerizing in it’s boredom. The photos were placed on Kodak’s photo site and I had to look at them slowly and in a fixed order. Shot after shot of different angles of an old rug filled my monitor. Some were close up. One showed the carpet partially flipped over. After a seemingly endless parade of carpet shots the towels came on. I sometimes am intrigued by minimalism but this was starting to put me in a trance.
Another sale simply linked me to a page with thumbnails. At least here I could see all the things I didn’t want to see in one glance. The page contained at least 15 pictures of things made out of particleboard. One upcoming sale was proclaimed as the “Moving sale of the year” among the clutter to be featured there was a wine rack, dumbbells and a Spanish dictionary. Another sale this one in East Atlanta proudly proclaimed having everything from “microwaves to Bjork posters”. The principle thing lacking in all the listings was that no one had photos of just piles and boxes of junk.
More interesting than the Garage sale listings were the free listing. Among the items in the free area were advice, a folding chair, puppies, a plastic ficus tree and the omnipresent trio of firewood, fill dirt and pallets. One person simply announced that he had just thrown a bunch of junk into the street in front of his home.
The Barter section offered some surreal trades such as kayaks for dental work. One individual wanted to swap his glass coffee table for a wooden one. The most intriguing listing involved trading a diamond ring for an aquarium.
While it in not the massive never ending well ordered mob scene of Ebay, the localness of Craigslist makes it seem more real. If you have an aquarium you can see and meet for yourself the individual who chooses fish over love.
Other sections have other stories to tell. When I perused the section for Film/Video jobs I found that one independent filmmaker was seeking monkeys and midgets. His goal was to film monkeys fighting midgets. The auteur seemed to have no knowledge of primate handling and human sensitivity.

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