I was lucky and found a good buy on Craig's list, but I know that is the exception and not the rule. I have a suggestion for people who are trying to find sewing machines on Craig's list, and I know it works because it has already worked in the last 6 months for 4 friends of mine.
Tired of searching Craig's list for months and coming up with nothing in terms of sewing machines, I suggested to them that they go "proactive" and go to the "wanted" section of the List. That is where people list what they are looking for, instead of just looking at what people have posted. Each of these women posted that they were looking for specific models (all gave several, like Janome, Bernina, Babylock, etc.) and they gave a range for how old a machine could be, or how much use the machine could have. All wanted "working order", original parts included. A couple noted "willing to service machine after sale". One woman gave her maximum price. The others said: "Price offer will be according to age of machine, condition, amount of use, and need for service." Then they ran the ads under the "Wanted" section (I think in one paper it was called "In Search of") but it's in all of the Craig's lists.
The reason I suggested this is because after two moves in 2 years, and lots and lots of use of Craig's list, I started asking people if they had sewing machines at home they might want to part with. In a number of cases, they did. Now, I wasn't in a position to buy at the time; I was just curious. So I asked why they didn't put them on Craig's list. The reasons were endless, but they boiled down to: not enough time; would only have the one item to sell; working so wouldn't be at home; probably wouldn't be worth much (Oh, so wrong!); probably not much demand for them (Oh, so wrong!); It's my mother's/mother-in-law's machine, and even though she never uses it, she wouldn't know how to list it on Craig's List, and I don't want to intrude, and so on and so on, ad nauseum.
So my lady friends put up their posts -- One in the Massachusetts are, one in Nashville, TN; one in Mid -Michigan, and one in Portland, OR, so a nice county cross section. In a couple of cases, they had to run the ad 3 separate times before they scored, but when they scored, they scored big! Anne got an almost brand new Janome MC 6600 with very little use for $600, all the original pieces with it, only a year old. She was over the moon! In this case, the woman who owned the machine saw the ad and called Anne.
Linda picked up an older model Bernina which had hardly been used, owned by an older lady, in meticulous condition, all original parts included, plus she gave her what she had of her stash (4 big black garbage bags full of Quilt Shop Quality fabrics, and bolts of batting, never opened) all for $400. She had it serviced. It needed to be cleaned and lubricated, but otherwise was in perfect condition, and she is very happily quilting away. She does a lot of Charity Quilts, so all that extra fabric and batting was greatly appreciated. In this case, the Daughter of the Woman who owned the Bernina saw the ad and called her mother and urged her to answer the ad, and she finally did. It's much easier to answer an ad than to go to all the trouble of writing one up and have it submitted! That's a good point to remember, because a lot of these machines are owned by older people who don't use Craig's list, or eBay, and are not sophisticated about computers. So they're less likely to list things, and it's more likely that friends, neighbors and family intervene when they see the ad, such as in this case.
April picked up a beautiful Janome Horizon 7700, with all original parts intact, two years old, never used, didn't even need servicing, all for $900. The couple had bought it for their daughter, and then the daughter was killed in a car accident before she had a chance to use it. By the time they sold it to April, they just wanted it out of the house so they didn't have to look at it any more, so they eagerly responded to her ad. They also knew of another Janome Horizon 7700 that was no longer being used because the lady who bought it had a stroke, and April had a friend who was dying for a new machine. They walked next door and asked if the lady wanted to sell, and she did, so April's friend, who was with her at the time, talked to the elderly lady. Apparently she and her neighbor had bought the machines together, two year's previously, but after using it for a year, she'd had a stroke and could no longer use it. She sold it to April's friend for $600 (because it would have to be serviced). WOW! And no, she hadn't even considered putting it on Craig's List. This was simply a serendipitous sale, off another ad April put in.
The last lady, Kaye, after her 3rd ad in Craig's list, had a call from a lady with a 3 year old Bernina. They were "down-sizing" from a big house to a condo, and she felt she was tired of sewing anyway. She also had Parkinson's, which was making sewing/quilting very difficult. So Kaye went up to look at it, and found a top-of-the-line 3 year old Bernina, with little use on the machine, just serviced, in perfect condition. The lady was asking $500 for the machine, and $600 she she took the "rest of the stuff". The "rest of the stuff" turned out to be her stash, her quilting notions, threads, books, patterns, 2 cutting mats, set of 7 various sized Olfa cutters, and so on, and so on, and so on. Oh, Yes! And a beautifully kept, A-1 condition Singer treadle sewing machine, fully restored, with all kinds of extra feet, needles and bobbins, and all parts intact! Kaye is still sorting it all out. She was, as the Brits would say, positively gobsmacked by what she got. But she solved that lady's problem for her (otherwise it would have ended up in Goodwill), and now has tons of fabric for quilts for preemies and sick children, plus her own first grandchild due in March. There's so much fabric, she's sharing it with her group that makes quilts for preemies and sick children. And the topper is that it was again the daughter of this woman who saw the ad and talked her mother into calling Kaye about the sewing machine. So instead of getting a tax write off at Goodwill, she received $600 cash, and if you've moved lately, you know you need all the cash you can get!
So ladies, the message is: get proactive. Don't just sit back and wait for something to "show up" on Craig's list. If you're serious about buying, get out there and put on ad in the "wanted" section, and see what you can drum up. Be patient. Remember, it took two of my people 3 runs of the ad to finally snag the "big one". People can be on vacation. Maybe you need for kids to be home. Over holidays is a Great time to advertise. Kids are home. Keep trying. If you're within 50 miles of a bigger city, try there as well. Don't give up! There are sewing machines to be had out there. You just need to dig them up!