Besides the invention of money itself, has there been a greater boon to commerce than the internet? And on the internet, one of the most useful tools for "everyman" is Craigslist. I love selling things on Craigslist.
Several years ago I had a van conversion. It was a 1976 Ford Econoline, and the back was fully rigged as an RV, and I needed to sell it. I put it on Craigslist for $2500. Concurrently, there was a young couple in Davis who was planning on selling their belongings, buying a van, outfitting it for travel, and looking for a new place to settle down--they'd know it when they got there. They'd budgeted $8000 for a minivan, and a couple thousand more for a camp stove, tent, etc. While looking for a minivan, though, they came across my van--not as nice (and not as good mileage) as they were looking for, but much cheaper, and you can buy a lot of gas for the $5500 and 10mpg difference. After two visits they bought it, paying my full asking price in cash.
In the past, I'd have had to pay to put a small ad on a large page in a medium-sized newspaper and hope that someone in the area saw it and wanted what I was selling. With Craigslist, anyone can find what I'm selling, complete with pictures.
About 5 years ago I bought a car and needed to sell my 2001 Kia Rio. It was between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I knew there would only be two types of people who would look at that car--someone looking for a cheap car for a Christmas present for a teenager, and someone desperate for a car. I put the Kelley Blue Book printout in the window and listed the car on Craigslist for maybe $100 under that. As I predicted, the first couple that showed up was looking for a Christmas present for their teenage daughter--but they arrived in a Chrysler 300, so I knew they weren't going to drive the Kia away! The next to look at the car was a woman and her approximately 20-year-old daughter and few-months-old granddaughter; daughter had recently totaled her car and needed transport. Mom found my car on Craigslist, they came to look at it, she got a carfax report while I got it smogged, and on their next visit they drove my Kia away. She even gave me $1 more than my asking price, but being an honest guy, I gave her a dollar coin in change :-) I'd asked $3999 for the car.
A month and a half ago I bought a new video camera (click on the video label and scroll through the February 2012 posts) and wanted to sell my old standard definition video camera. How did I go about selling it? Craigslist, of course! I placed an ad, added some pictures of the equipment, and linked to a couple videos I'd made using that camera. And I waited. And each week I reposted the ad, being told by people that that camera was yesterday's technology and that no one would want it, but also believing that there's always somebody who wants what you're selling. So I waited more. I got a couple responses, but they were probably from my good friend Mrs. Abacha of Ghana or from a very nice and generous banker in Kenya. So I waited. Yesterday I started getting what seemed to be a genuine response. We met this morning and the man explained why he was looking for this older type of camera specifically--his wife had old tapes that hadn't been transferred to new technology, and they needed a camera that would play those tapes. He brought a tape along, it played beautifully in my camera, he ensured the recording function of the camera worked, and he gave me my full asking price in cash.
Some might suggest that since I got my full asking price each time, that perhaps I'm pricing my items too low. I don't think so. I did research and priced my items at what I determined was a fair and reasonable price for both buyer and seller. The evidence above indicates that I seem to have done a good job.
The $60 I got today will go into my "summer trip fund", which already has a couple hundred dollars in it (much of it having been previously earmarked for my forfeited Iceland trip from last summer).
So far it's been a productive day. I love Craigslist!
Here's what I just sold for $60: