Oct 15, 2012

Posted by | 6 Comments

Helpful Hints to Score Cheap Classroom Supplies on Craigslist

Craigslist is an online website where people post items for sale. Items are organized by city and into different categories. Some of my favorite categories are arts+crafts, baby+kids, clothing+ acc, photo+video, and toys+games. Check out the website here .

You can find almost anything you’re looking for on craigslist. I’ve purchased a stroller, baby swing, shoes, clothing, a camera, a food processor, hard wood flooring for our home and many other items.

My favorite items to purchase on craigslist are art supplies for my classroom. So far this school year I’ve purchased 500 lbs. of raku clay for $30.00, an alphabet punch set for $12.00, and Dick Blick acrylic fluorescent paint for $20.00. I always end up spending my own money throughout the school year and these deals were too good to pass up.

If you’re going to spend your own money, I suggest you hunt for bargains and sales. Craigslist is an excellent place to find awesome items for your art classroom.  Here are some of my top suggestions for finding great deals on Craigslist for your classroom, personal art use, or even your home.


1. Browse categories that interest you.
Frequently search categories and keep an eye on newly listed items. This helps when you go to buy something or make an offer. If you know how long an item has been for sale, you will have more success in getting a better deal.

2. Use the search bar to search for specific items.
When you search for items, it not only searches the city you have selected but it also searches area cities. The search bar is great if you are looking for a unique or specific item.

3. Make sure that the seller understands that the item will be used for a classroom.
If I’m purchasing an item for my classroom, I make sure to say, “I’m interested in purchasing the ____________ for my classroom, and would be willing to pay…” I figure it doesn’t help to let them know that it’s going to be used in a classroom, and maybe they will feel generous and accept my low offers.

4. Don’t be afraid to offer less than what they’re asking.
It doesn’t hurt to ask. If the price is really good in the first place, I don’t offer less. I don’t want the seller to move on to the second person because they’ve offered the asking price and I offered less. With that being said, most of the time, I offer less than what they’re asking and most of the time the sellers accept. You might end up knowing the seller and get an even better deal or even something for FREE!  I recently inquired about a food processor for sale. My e-mail to the seller went something like this, “I’m interested in purchasing the food processor you have for sale and would be willing to pay $60. I am able to meet any night this week after 4:00.” I received this in response, “Only if you make some yummy baby food for Becker.” I was instantly freaked out and was wondering how the seller knew my son’s name. I looked at the person’s e-mail address and realized that the seller was one of my best friend’s from high school. I immediately called her and we shared a good laugh. She sold her processor, I got an excellent deal and Becker ate yummy homemade baby food. You never know who you might be buying something from!

5. Meet in a neutral location.
Try to pick a public location to meet. Parking lots of stores or gas stations work great. Meeting at a public location helps reduce the stress of meeting at someone’s home. Sometimes meeting at someone’s home is the only option. When I purchased the clay I met at the seller’s home. I also traded numerous e-mails with her and spoke with her on the phone. I felt comfortable with meeting at her home. Use your discretion when meeting someone at their home. Take a buddy if you’re not comfortable. I always let my husband know the address where I am going, just in case something happens. I’ve only had one situation where I felt uncomfortable but that was one too many for me. Since that situation I have been more picky about when and where I meet sellers.

6. Most sellers require you to pay in cash.
Unfortunately this means that my craigslist purchases are bought using my own money. It doesn’t make it possible for my school to reimburse me for these items. Therefore, I try to limit my craigslist art purchases.

7. Create wanted posts for items you want for your classroom.
Your wanted post could look like this: “Art Teacher Seeking Donations. I am a middle school art teacher seeking the following donations: buttons, egg cartons, fabric. Please contact me and let me know what items you would like to donate and when you are free to meet. ” When someone contacts you, pick a public location to pick up your free donations.

8. Download a craigslist app to your phone.
Many of the craigslist applications allow you to create alerts for specific items. When someone lists an item you receive a notification that the item has been listed.

9. Search local cities in addition to your own city.
If you’re looking for a specific item, browse the surrounding cities or cities you plan to visit. You can also create alerts for multiple cities.

Have you ever bought art supplies on craigslist?

Anyone else love craigslist as much as me?

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  • http://www.theartofed.com/ Heather Crockett

    I never thought to look at CL for school supplies!  Thanks for the tip :)

  • http://www.artbke.blogspot.com/ Amanda Heyn

    I love Craigslist because it’s like a treasure hunt. I once went to buy a beautiful wooden easel and the woman ended up giving me all of her oil paints! I walked out of there with over $300 dollars worth of art supplies plus the easel for 40 bucks. I never thought to use it for classroom supplies though. Brilliant. 

    • http://www.theartofed.com/ Cassidy Reinken

      Yes, truly a treasure hunt! 

  • Rina Vinetz

    I check out the ‘free’ section. I got 200+ CD jewel cases this fall.  Last spring I listed all my leftover bottle caps and they were snapped up by another art teacher in an adjacent school district.

    • http://www.theartofed.com/ Cassidy Reinken

      I have never checked the ‘free’ section, I will have to browse it.  Thanks for sharing!

  • RW

    “Freecycle”  is another option…I scored the entire unused inventory of a fancy summer art camp program on the day the camp ended.  Lucky timing earned my classroom reams and reams of construction paper, brand new classroom sets of oil pastels, markers, etc. plus a crazy assortment of things to use for my afterschool art club.