welcome to my parlor

We’ve talked before about our love for Craigslist – it is such a wonderful resource for buying gently used medical equipment at a FRACTION of the cost of new! But there is something we forgot to mention. Sometimes it can be a bit morbid.

One would hope that the reason someone is selling medical equipment is that they are all better. Cured, even!

The sad reality however, is that usually family members are liquidating equipment because the former owner has passed. What to do with Grandma’s walker, Pop-Pop’s lift chair, or Aunt Louise’s motorized scooter? Craigslist is a great option for family to recoup medical expenses especially on the heels of memorial and funeral services.

When we were shopping for Mo’s lift chair, we went to several homes to check out the condition of Craigslist advertised chairs. All of the former owners had passed away. We were dealing with grieving family members, and almost all shared the stories of their loved one’s illness with us. We didn’t mind, but occasionally it would feel, well, awkward.

Here are some tips we figured out when buying medical equipment on Craigslist:

  1. Patience is a virtue – grieving family members sometimes go on a while, give them a break. Most folks are very open about the disease or conditions their loved ones suffered from, and these stories often revolve around how the person used or benefited from the equipment. Listening to these stories you might get a better idea of how to use the equipment in your own life, or features that you don’t want/need.
  2. To disclose or not disclose – I don’t know what it is about Craigslist, but people seem to want to feel connected to the people they are selling to. Be prepared to answer questions about myositis, and decide early how much you want to disclose about yourself.
  3. Set the tone early – if you aren’t gung-ho to tell your whole life story, start the conversation with much more pointed and business-like questions. “How long ago was this purchased?” “Was there any warranty information included?” “Has this been professionally cleaned?” etc.
  4. Research, research, research – I can’t stress enough how important it is to know your prices! As a rule of thumb we try to buy items 75% off retail, but if we’ve been looking for a long time for an item we might go all the way up to 50% off. You are buying used, not resale.
  5. Tell it like it is – you won’t be doing anyone a favor if you aren’t interested in the item but are too polite to say “no”. We tried a lot of chairs but some didn’t feel right to Mo because of fabric, height, arm rests, etc. A simple “I don’t think this is the one for us” and a friendly “good luck” were appreciated and we were able to go on to the next ad.
  6. Divide and conquer – haggling is not something that comes naturally to us, so Mo & I have a good cop/bad cop routine. I’m the heavy, bringing up points that should reduce the price or motivate the seller. He is the sympathetic one, sharing his troubles and needs and getting the seller to connect to us. It’s pretty common to find this strategy used by sellers too, with one trying to keep the price as stated and the other wanting to get rid of the item quickly, especially to someone in need. If you can read the situation you can position yourself accordingly. The great thing about Craigslist is that sometimes it really is about people helping people. If you aren’t gifted at getting prices where you need them to be you might want to try appealing to sympathies – but be genuine about it. No sob stories.
  7. Cash is King – always assume you are going to buy what you are seeing. Have enough cash with you to make the purchase right away at the full asking price. If you are thinking of haggling, have the amount that you are willing to pay in one pocket and the excess in the other (or with another person). Nothing is more annoying to a seller – or can backfire a sale faster – than a buyer pulling out a wad of cash after haggling over the price. Keep an assortment of bills too – don’t expect the seller to have change.
  8. Fools rush in – most people are honest, truthful, and earnest with items they are selling on Craigslist but there are those out there that ruin it. If you are getting the runaround with a seller our advice is stop communication with them immediately! Craigslist should be easy, so if things start getting complicated that should be a red flag to you. Click here for some advice about avoiding scams.


We hope that some of these tips help you get the things you need from Craigslist, it can definitely be a Win-Win for seller & buyer. Good Luck!!!


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