When it comes to consumer durables, I rarely pay retail. These days stuff is generally well made (lasts for years), yet people have a desire to buy things as if they were going out of style — well, maybe they are, I wouldn’t know — so I prefer to pick through people’s overflowing garages and get things significantly reduced or even for free.

We got our old desk in the way that many grad students acquire their furniture. The inhabitants of university departments, grad students, postdocs, and professors, tend to recycle furniture internally. People who are leaving either sell or donate their furniture to incoming people. As such the story of a table or a couch can be traced backwards.

Lately, our desk has been coming apart in the seams. I have thought of various ways to hold it together such as super or two-component glue, screwing a piece of wood on and attaching the loose piece with bolts, etc. but have so far resorted to just not putting my feet up on that side of the table. Frankly it was beginning to get to me though.

Now I could go to the local mass market and buy a $50 piece of junk desk (I estimate the failing one to have cost $150 new), but this is California(*), where people occasionally give almost new desks away because they are redecorating. Never saw that back in the midwest.

(*) Those who are looking for “solid oak entertainment centers” must be crazy to pay money for them around here. Yet, there must be many people that do this because such are offered for free all the time.

So we have been scanning craigslist for free desks for the past several months. Usually the problem was that they were either too ugly, too far away, or too big (we have a compact hatchback although now we both wish we had a light truck instead). However, the other day I went back and checked and saw a very solid, short desk with drawers. It was close, just on city over too. As the post was already more than a week old I didn’t have much hope but lo and behold, they still had it. When we showed up today it turned out that it was solid hardwood too (thing weighs a ton) unlike our old desk which has more form than substance. Score! This was even better than expected. It may have taken several months, but we got a $300+ desk for free.

And this is the mind-set that keeps our budget so low [we don’t think it’s that low!].

[Serious “free”-hunters will note that search results on craigslist has an RSS subscription option. Simply search for what you want and subscribe to the RSS feed and you won’t have to check constantly. Rather, you can just keep up to date with new offers in your RSS reader].

Originally posted 2008-05-24 18:12:18.