|130 N. Fort Thomas Ave, the Fort Thomas Police parking lot. In other jurisdictions, police parking lots have become "Craigslist safe zones." FTM file.|
The city-wide yard sale brought lots of traffic to Fort Thomas, and my motto when holding a yard sale has always been "once it leaves the house, it doesn't come back in."
But, sometimes there are a couple of bigger ticket items that just don't find a home during a yard sale and it seems so wasteful to cart them off to a donation center or trash them. Enter Craigslist, the online hub for buying selling and trading merchandise in your local community.
I've done a fair amount of buying and selling on Craigslist with success, but because I don't do it regularly and I never really think much about the safety involved. In fact, after talking with a couple of friends I've discovered that I've been really unsafe in the past and I've learned a thing or two about what NOT to do.
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Fort Thomas podcaster and blogger, Vicky Thornton, has generated $5,000 to fund a family Disney trip as well as her son's 8th grade class trip to Washington D.C. from selling items on Craigslist. After multiple sales, she has a set procedure for the process of listing, dealing with inquiries and then handling the transaction of merchandise.
RELATED: Vicky's "I Love Craig" blog series on VickyandJen.com
When it comes to safety and meeting with a potential buyer, Thornton has a couple of key tips.
1. She does not meet people at her home (with a couple of key exceptions). Instead she has a "go-to" public meeting spot that is close to her home.
The exceptions might be large items that are difficult to transport like furniture. In that case, Thornton recommends moving those items to a porch or garage so buyers don't have to enter your home. In the instance that you're selling electronics or an item that might require power to demonstrate it works, you might have an extension cord ready to go or have the item set up and ready to demonstrate just inside your front door so buyers don't have to linger in the house.
2. When meeting a buyer, make sure you have a cell number, so you can confirm the pickup time and location.
If YOU are buying an item online and must see that the items functions, but you aren't comfortable going to the sellers home, you might request a video of the item in operation. In the current era of smartphones with photo and video capability, this can easily be done via email or even text.
Thornton's husband, Doug and their son Aidan requested video of a gaming system they wanted to purchase before meeting the seller at a public location.
My good friend, Andrea Surrey, has great thrifting radar and has made some serious home decor scores on Craigslist. But, she's also developed some personal safety rules for buying and selling with Craig.
"I always take someone with me when I go to pick something up," said Surrey. "I also text the address where I'm going to my husband or a friend if my husband is with me, just in case."
The Dayton, OH police department has recently launched the Safe Exchange program to give people who use online sites like Craigslist a safe place to make transactions. Under their new program, people can meet in the lobby or parking lot of the designated police stations which are under video surveillance. Residents can also request an officer to stand by during the meeting if needed.
Lt. Rich Whitford of the Fort Thomas Police Department said the FTPD has also discussed a program like this for the residents of Fort Thomas. There has been no timeline put in place, yet, but the FTPD is looking into how other agencies offer this service.
"We like the idea of having a safe/known location for our residents for these type of transactions," said Whitford.