I've avoided many tempting furniture finds on eBay and craigslist that would have to be shipped because I assumed that having them sent on a Greyhound bus would be a huge headache. But when I spotted the perfect chair on AT Scavenger San Francisco, I swallowed my fear and decided that I wouldn't let a few thousand miles stand between me and my heart's desire.
I caught my first glimpse Arne Norell's Sirocco chair in a New York Times article, and thought that it was exactly what my living room was missing, but after some research I realized that at a price of at least $1,000 from antique dealers, it was way more than I could afford. But I kept my eyes open and my fingers crossed. When I saw the chair on AT Scavenger for $225 I thought it would be worth trying to have it shipped — even if it was a cheap reproduction or not in perfect condition, the price was reasonable enough that I'd have no regrets.
Shipping on Greyhound is relatively inexpensive for large items compared to regular shipping. The catch is that you need to drop off and pick up the furniture at the nearest Greyhound station — they don't deliver door-to-door. I had a friend in San Francisco pick up the chair from the craigslist seller and ship it for me which was a huge help and everything went without a hitch.
Here are a few things that I learned from my craigslist Greyhound shipping experience:
Do Your Research
Buying anything from craigslist sight unseen is risky business so make sure to ask the seller for large images so you can see as much detail as possible. Research the piece as much as you can to make sure it's worth the price (don't forget to account for shipping, see below). You'll probably need to rely on your gut to make this decision. I knew my chair was missing the leather seat cushion that perfect specimens have and there was no way for me to know if it was in great condition or even original, but I knew I'd like the way it looked despite these things so I went for it.
Account for Shipping
You can estimate Greyhound's shipping costs at their website, www.shipgreyhound.com, if you know the furniture's dimensions and weight. They do have size and weight limits so make sure to check before you buy. Don't forget to factor in the cost of packing supplies. My chair cost $60 to ship and the supplies were another $60, doubling the price. Adding the cost of shipping, make sure that your find is still worth the price.
Rely on the Kindness of Friends (and Strangers)
Having a generous friend in San Francisco who was willing to pick up and ship the chair was a huge help. If you don't have anyone in the same location as the furniture to give you a hand, you can negotiate with the seller and see if they will ship it for you. That's always a risk so just make sure that you'll be okay if something goes wrong.
Greyhound's website estimates the time to ship, but don't rely on that. The website told me it would take 3 days, but when I called they said it could take up to 10 days — it ended up taking exactly a week. I had a tracking number, but I couldn't track the chair online because we hadn't paid online and the process for doing that was not self-explanatory.
In the end the chair arrived with a small tear in the back of the seat that I'm hoping can be repaired easily, but other than that the condition is good and it's totally comfortable so to me it was definitely worth the trouble. Have you ever shipped furniture on Greyhound? What was your experience like?
Images: top, Randy C. Shelton; bottom, Sarah Rainwater