Thursday, March 19, 2009

Craigslist Capers: Snowboard surprise

I am deep in the process of attempting to purchase some decent snowboard equipment for my husband and myself through craigslist. I just sold both our sets of skis through the very same online marketplace, so I have a wad of cash which I consider to be my budget for the new gear. I really love craigslist and sincerely appreciate the baffling fact that the majority of its usage is absolutely free, yet we can enjoy it without the distracting bombardment of sidebar ads and pop-ups.

Each time I dive into the craigslist world I am reminded that there are some pretty clueless people out there. And I frequently encounter some peculiar situations, postings, and people. So I am introducing a segment here on Beyond Mommy called Craigslist Capers. I hope you enjoy it and will feel compelled to share your own entertaining craigslist experiences.

This particular hunt for two complete snowboard sets has been mentally intense and surprisingly time-consuming. We need two different specific sizes, I have particular tastes, and I am on a budget. There are not very many full sets including board, boots, and bindings for sale, and of those that even list the important details, only a few comprise the correct combination of boot and board size for either of us. Generally, those are completely hideous.

So I resort to my "craigslist dance," adding items I like to Favorites folders labeled for different combinations of board only, board with bindings, complete sets, boots for me, boots for him, etc. Then I email questions to the owners, make lists of combos I like on paper, and map out how I might be able to meet these handfuls of people to get everything I want in one trip. All of this might seem inordinately complicated (I know my husband thinks so), but consider it necessary when you live 30-60 minutes away from most craigslisters, and due to specific preferences want to limit the number of times you have to endure the awkward, "no thanks, I don't like your personal belongings, but I appreciate you answering all my emails and driving here to meet me for nothing."

I asked several people to email me photos, because either the ones on craigslist were too small or they hadn't posted any. In one instance, I could see that the snowboard had an artistic graphic printed on it but couldn't make it out. The owner resonded to my request with 5 photos. The two showing the bottom of the board appeared to be nearly the same picture. The third picture was a close-up of the Palmer logo which is already pretty clearly shown in the following, which were the best I got showing the top of the board:

You can see that there is some sort of design there around the right binding. It looks like it might be abstract painting or a stained glass design...possibly a television set there on the side.

The specs of the board fit my criteria for the mens' board, and it was a great price for their claim of it having never been used, so I agreed to meet them to take a look. I was already looking at a board for me in Oregon City (which I also did not end up buying because it was too small), and the owner of the Palmer above agreed to meet me in the same parking lot. Knowing it was a little out of her way, I tried to find a meeting place more convenient for her, but she insisted.

Following the customary pleasantries confirming that we're looking for one another, the short, round woman hauled the snowboard over to my car. I inspected the surfaces and edges first. It didn't look brand new as she claimed, but perhaps it was all only the result of garage storage.

My brief examination made its way toward the end of the board containing the graphic. It suddenly became clear why the owner didn't send more forthright photos (although it would have made more sense to simply do so).

The image is a cartoonish painting; in a style reminiscent of the old Garbage Pail Kids cards, or some of the more offensive Mad Magazine renderings. It depicts a disgusting, obese, hairy man sitting in a ratty armchair surrounded by empty liquor bottles. A fat cigar hangs between his crooked, yellow teeth, with a couple dozen more butts overflowing from a nearby ashtray onto the floor at his feet. On the wall behind him is a tiny framed pictured of a naked woman.

I gathered up my confidence and remained nonchalant when I said to the woman, "This looks like a really nice board. But I have to admit, the graphic doesn't really suit my husband's personality."

Before I even finished the sentence she conceded, "Not your style?"

Her immediate understanding, followed by the abrupt departure which seemed lightly laced with irritation leads me to believe that they have been having trouble selling this snowboard because of one common denominator.

In light of that, I don't understand why they don't simply embrace the board for what it is and focus on attracting an appreciative audience. No one is going to simply "not notice" the illustration. So by concealing it, they wasted my time as well as their own, and who knows how many others'. In addition, I believe they would actually sell the board more quickly by advertising it for what it is. The market for that artwork exists. But the people (boys) who would be interested in it will only see polka-dots until you put the edgy rebellion right in their faces. Then you won't have to bother with people who would never consider it.

3 comments:

Bridget said...

Ew, hideous. You are very right - they need to embrace their market so they don't waste your time!

Jennifer said...

Craigslist Capers is a great idea. You never know what will happen. This was pretty funny.

barb said...

odd how some people think. I had a potential Craigslist buyer who didn't arrive at the agreed-upon location (30 minutes from my house) because she didn't want to hurt my feelings by calling to say she had changed her mind. really?

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