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Craigslist and the Local Market

Craigslist and the Local Market

There was a very long piece in Sunday’s NY Times (reg. req’d) on Craigslist and the rental real estate market. There are some interesting data about number of listings in particular markets and some background on the housing discrimination lawsuit.

What’s most interesting to me is the “culture” of Craigslist that comes through in the anecdotal information. Professionals and non-professionals are using the site. But there’s a flavor here that is fundamentally different than the newspapers or even vertical real estate sites — an “idiosyncratic” or “human” element. This intangible quality is part of the site’s seemingly enduring appeal — if I can use that term — and certainly its “brand.”

This Suzanne Vranica WSJ (sub. req’d) article discusses small business advertising online and contains this related section on Craigslist:

Over the past few years, many small businesses have turned to popular free online classified-ads sites such as Craigslist, a privately held company. While these sites are known for their personal and jobs classifieds, they also offer a listing of services that is increasingly being used by small businesses.

In February, the services section of Craigslist had 672,404 ads, up from 132,257 ads in February 2004.

About a year ago, Perrone Maintenance Corp., a carpet-cleaning business in Brooklyn, N.Y., was running weekly print ads in several local newspapers. “I was spending a lot of money,” says Don Perrone, the company’s owner.

In July, the company, which does about $100,000 in annual revenue, began posting an ad on Craigslist New York City. Mr. Perrone, who is also a New York City detective, posted an ad that contained several photos, including one of the cleaning machine and another of a living room displaying a clean carpet. The listing also contained the company’s telephone number and a link to its Web site. Today, Mr. Perrone says, he gets about 90% of his business from Craigslist. “I stopped the newspaper ads after a week on Craigslist,” he says, “because I was getting about 15 calls [a day] from Craigslist, and half of them led to steady service contracts.”

Andrea Lawson Grey, a 47-year-old San Francisco resident, uses Craigslist to promote her painting and drywall company. Her ad reads: “Call for kitchen, baths, additions and decks, drywall and tile… woman-owned company.” The listing also includes her phone number.

Ms. Grey relies solely on referrals and Craigslist to get business. Today, “Craigslist represents 75% of my business,” she says. “It seems to give me enough contacts that I don’t need to do anything else

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Craigslist and the Local Market

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