BHS students find new ways to make profits

Craigslist gives students a new way to acquire outdoor toys.

Conlon Kane, Staff Writer

Trading on Craigslist is a game of risks and rewards; sometimes you get the deal of a lifetime, other times you get shafted.

A growing trend of people using Craigslist to trade vehicles has made its way into high schools.  Trading on Craigslist is a simple process: find a deal, contact the seller, work out a price or trade, make the swap.  The complexities lie in rooting out scams, noticing problems in products, and avoiding taking the short end of the deal.  To trade on Craigslist, knowledge of the product is crucial.

“I don’t see a lot of people trading new cars,” said junior Preston La Riviere. “Unless they’re trading an SUV or a small car for a truck that they need for work.”

La Riviere was preparing to trade his KTM dirt bike for a 2002 Jeep Cherokee when he got a message from the owner saying that they had sold it to someone else that morning. Looking for a good deal that isn’t too good-to-be-true is a major challenge that people face when trying to make deals and trades.  Senior Cody Provencher prides himself on his ability to get the best deals possible, using a tactic that people affectionately refer to as “low balling.”

“I do my best to find a deal, message the person and ask what’s the lowest price they’ll take for it,” Provencher said.

Trading on Craigslist is just as much a mental game as it is a money game.  You have to be smart and know when to back down; you also have to know how to push the deal in your favor.  La Riviere and Provencher have this down to a science.  

“If you’re trading for something, and you want to be honest about it, you want to make sure that it’s in good condition,” La Riviere said.

In early March, La Riviere was negotiating a deal to trade his dirt bike for a truck.  After talking to the owner of the truck for a short while, the man stopped responding.  

“I tried to bait him to go back to Preston because I gave him a crappier offer,” said Provencher.   “I think that’s the reason why the guy went back to Preston, because he realized his [Preston’s] bike is better.”  

As with many things in life, it is difficult to earn the respect of those who are older and supposedly more knowledgeable.  Provencher and La Riviere believe that they are treated fairly when making deals, despite the fact that they are young.  Both boys credit this to their knowledge of dirt bikes and engines.  La Riviere stated that many of the bikes on Craigslist need only an hour’s work, but people just don’t know how to make the repairs.  Many times this leads to someone finding the deal of a lifetime.

“A lot of bikes that sell for really cheap, people just don’t know what they have, they just post them on Craigslist like, ‘Oh I have a dirt bike, 90cc’ they post a picture and it’s actually worth $1000 and I saw it listed for $300,” said Provencher. “Unfortunately it was sold, but all it needed was some TLC and I could have made like $600.”

The biggest risk when it comes to a Craigslist deal is running into scammers.  According to La Riviere there are “a lot of scammers out there nowadays.”  Provencher and La Riviere are able to avoid being scammed because of their knowledge of bikes, but for those with less experience, this can be an impossible task.  Another problem that can arise is a bad reaction to a deal.  For this reason, Provencher and La Riviere recommend never trading too close to home.

“Preston and I last year went up an hour north, I had an RMZ 250,” said Provencher.  “I traded it for a YFC 450. The guy didn’t know anything about motorcycles, he just wanted to hear it.  He said ‘Yeah; I’ll trade no cash on top.’  When I left, he actually blew up [the motor of] my bike, and tried suing me.”

Despite the potential for mishaps, many people do well for themselves trading on Craigslist.  People start off small, trading unrelated things or with an inexpensive product and build their way up slowly to higher quality products.  

“My parents have nothing to do with me getting a $3000 dirt bike; I earned that,” said Provencher.  “I started really small, with a $1000 dirt bike, and just worked my way up.”

Although trading on Craigslist has become more and more popular, La Riviere believes that for first time buyers of things like dirt bikes and ATV’s, traditional dealerships are still the go-to; meaning that, at least for now, Craigslist isn’t the only way to pick up some outdoor toys.

“Most people will go to places that sell them [Dirt Bikes] because they feel more comfortable, like they can trust them,” La Riviere said.

According to La Riviere, scepticism is a strong ally of Craigslist Traders.

“There’s a lot of scammers out there nowadays. A lot.”