Is Craigslist Like Wal-Mart?

from the kinda-puts-a-different-spin-on-things dept

Craigslist has a reputation for being a big, friendly community -- and the newspapers who can't deal with the competition are simply out of touch and slow to react. However, someone from within the (alternative) newspaper business is shooting back and claiming that the idea that Craigslist is all about a cuddly community is "bullshit." Instead, Craigslist is to local newspapers like what Wal-Mart is to local mom-and-pop shops:
"In many ways, he's like a Wal-Mart – yeah, landlords get cheaper real estate ads, and consumers find some bargains, but the money all goes out of town. And he puts nothing back into the community: He doesn't, for example, hire reporters or serve as a community watchdog."
Definitely an interesting way of looking at things -- though, again, it does come back to being a competitive issue. If that's what people want, is it a problem? Why aren't the local papers already offering similar services in their own communities that pre-empt the demand for Craigslist? In places that Craigslist doesn't serve, it seems like the local newspaper should still have a ton more name recognition than Craigslist (who, in spite of its popularity with the geekset, isn't that well known outside of its core cities).


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Zach, Feb 1st, 2006 @ 6:31pm

    No Subject Given

    How does all the money go out of town? Craigslist actually discourages deals that don't take place in the local area due to fraud concerns. If he's hurting anything, it's the classified section of newspapers which charge way too much anyway.

     

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  2.  
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    Mark, Feb 1st, 2006 @ 7:05pm

    Agreed

    As an added bonus, You can post last minute items on Craigslist, and expect to have your cell ringing in a few minutes (for ACL (Austin City Limits) tickets on the day of the show)).

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2006 @ 7:29pm

    No Subject Given

    When the local mom and pop store starts selling jeans, hair dryers and groceries in the same store then I might go there. Otherwise I'll save gas and harmful emissions by going to one place.

    See, I'm helping to save the planet. There's always some bit of good in a situation...just depends on how you look at it.

     

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  4.  
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    Paul, Feb 1st, 2006 @ 7:57pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    I just tried to advertise on the Gaurdian, and in order to get 10 words in their paper to sell something in the book section it would have set me back $27.00. How's that good for the community? The journalist is obviously afraid of a little competition and is turning his frustration into an editorial piece. He also has an ad of a naked woman on his page which links to an even bigger picture of said woman. Now I'm not a prude, but I'm not sure how having a naked woman on his article is good for my community. Might sell more papers though.

     

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  5.  
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    Paul, Feb 1st, 2006 @ 8:00pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    I forgot to mention, I advertised my car on Craigslist. It sold in 3 hours. Can the Guardian do that for me in their paper?

     

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  6.  
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    OBM (profile), Feb 1st, 2006 @ 8:03pm

    No Subject Given

    "...serve as a community watchdog"
    the mainstream (and even local) press hasn't been that in over a decade.
    they jump on bandwagon hype stories and drop them as soon as they're something new and shiny.
    I wouldn't trust the press to keep my place in the lunch queue let alone show any integrity when it comes to looking after the community

     

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  7.  
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    Ron, Feb 1st, 2006 @ 8:46pm

    Sissy

    Oh give me a break.

    They're just bitter cos they didn't have the sense or vision to make it to market first. Get over it boys.. and quit your sissy whining already.

    Yes that's right. Soon you will bow to Craig, your new master.

     

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  8.  
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    mateo, Feb 1st, 2006 @ 8:48pm

    No Subject Given

    Craigslist doesn't purport itself to be in the newspaper business so I don't get the analogy. True, newspapers generate quite a bit of revenue from classified ads, but I don't know how much of that money goes directly back into the community. I'm a graphic designer at a relatively small newspaper in Washington and our corporate owners are located in Iowa... last time I checked, that state isn't in the vicinity. Besides, Craigslist is a better service for individuals so its no surprise that more people turn to it rather than their local newpapers.

     

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  9.  
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    Michal, Feb 1st, 2006 @ 8:50pm

    sad

    Well, I used to live in a blue state and wonder how anyone could shop at a store as shitty as wall-mart.

    Lately I moved to a red state. The fucked up thing is that wal-mart is the best store in town. It's sad really. All the other stores are more expensive and have lower selection. What's the point?

     

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  10.  
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    David, Feb 1st, 2006 @ 9:01pm

    Money going out of town...

    ...by which I take the writer to mean that the revenue generated by those those postings on CL for which a fee is charged comes back to further inflate our real estate market here in San Francisco (the CL hometown) rather than staying in the local community where it originates. But the more interesting thing to me is that CL really only charges for employment ads, and even that only in some markets. In most markets there is not currently a fee for any posting at all. That seems to me to be a very different business model than Walmart, which to my knowledge does not have an institutionalized policy of giving away its inventory. As to those markets where CL DOES charge, that fee ($75 per employment category, with most requiring two or three categories to get get full exposure to the widest readership) is not measurably less than that charged by local papers. I recently ran an ad in CL which required that I pay $225 ($75 x three categories) for a one shot posting. I also ran it in a local paper, which cost me $195 for seven days. For reasons probably having to do with the fact that my employee needs skew to the IT literate, I received higher quality responses and resumes from CL, but I received many from the hard copy too. So in fact, CL either provides a product that is free, or one which is priced competitively with other available resources. But because it occupies an entirely different medium (which most local newspapers haven't figured out how to efficiently exploit yet) it's no competition at all. Walmart? That's a spurious comparison. But I don't think CL is really "cuddly" either. It's a resource, well conceived and positioned. It also seems to me that if Gannett, Tribune or Knight Ridder really want to compete with CL in any of the 1200 local papers they collectively own in the US (out of a total of about 1500), they certainly could do so. That they haven't so far done so, probably reflects more either a lack of resolve, or more likely, a simple business judgment call that CL doesn't pose a real threat. But the idea that an upstart computer geek like Craig Newmark is "walmarting" local newspapers, most of which are owned by multi-billion dollar asset corporations, with a free classified website is laughable.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    spam, Feb 1st, 2006 @ 10:06pm

    local newspapers?

    hah. Knight-Ridder & similar news organizations just push out the same boring ass websites to different towns. The 'local newspapers' are usually crap.

    Nothing is stopping them from putting up their own craigslist-like ad system locally, except the overpaid idiot shortsighted executives running the papers from halfway across the country.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Tashi, Feb 1st, 2006 @ 11:39pm

    No Subject Given

    There's a lot of folks out there clinging to old business models and old ways of doing things while the world passes them by. I work for a major KR newspaper and I'm getting out asap. They are going the way of the dinosaur. In the next 20 years newspapers will be totally obsolete. But that's just my opinion.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Dave, Feb 2nd, 2006 @ 12:58am

    weird...

    um... isn't craiglist offered for FREE? and I don't see ANY ads from third party people like on newspapers.

    Question for anyone.. how does craiglist make money? I know they do have backing of ebay, but why does ebay back it when it's clearly a money losing proposition. nobody gets charged for selling. they don't send spam mail to my email.

    thought?: maybe something to do with other services they have? anybody know?

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    LS, Feb 2nd, 2006 @ 1:34am

    Re: weird...

    The only thing that CL charges for are job postings in 3 cities:

    -San Francisco ($75 a category)
    -New York ($25 a category)
    -Los Angelos ($25 a category)

    Everything else is free, including job postings in other cities.

    The article is totally without merit.

    CL generates enough revenue to flourish with just job postings. Lastly, CL did not sell out to eBay, but, a former CL employee sold his stock options to eBay; eBay wanted in, not the other way around.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2006 @ 6:23am

    Re: weird...

    My "local" paper takes something like $50 million a year out of an already hurting community and sends it to one of the richest men in the world, 2 time zones away. Now THAT's hurting the local community.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Eli, Feb 2nd, 2006 @ 6:50am

    Re: No Subject Given

    KUDOS! OBM

     

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  17.  
    icon
    David Griffin (profile), Feb 2nd, 2006 @ 8:08am

    CraigsList / Walmart

    >> Money going out of town << br>
    What money ? Almost everything you ever do with Craigslist is free.

    I'd rather by a sofa from a guy round the corner (craigslist) than China (Walmart).

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    WarrenG, Feb 2nd, 2006 @ 8:57am

    That's crap

    I sold my car, my condo and other furniture on Craigslist. The money I saved on agents fees, I was able to spend on other things IN MY LOCAL COMMUNITY. In fact, this was one of the whole reasons for selling my condo myself - so that my money WOULDN'T be going out of my local community. This guy's on the same stuff that Darl McBride is on when he refers to the GPL as communist, and anti-American. If supporting Walmart can be construed as unpatriotic because of their deep ties to China, then surely supporting a resource such as Cragslist should be considered patriotic, by comparison at least. Also, what about the Craigslist Foundation - a non-profit foundation set up to help other non-profits establish themselves? Seems that Craigslist is doing far more good than harm to local economies. No, comparing Craigslist to Walmart is like comparing Mother Theresa to George Bush.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Rikko, Feb 2nd, 2006 @ 11:13am

    Re: That's crap

    Ever done a little digging into Mother Teresa's life? That's a much more interesting comparison that you know...

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    tony, Feb 2nd, 2006 @ 1:32pm

    Craigslist like Wal-Mart.....step outside the box

    Why refer to craigslist as a HE? As if HE is there typing all the pos into HIS list. Local newspapers need to realize that it is 2006 and not 1943. It is not Craigslist who is bringing down local newspapers, it is technology and you need to deal with it. If you do, and you find the niche you need to keep a newspaper open, then so be it. Quite frankly...Why does one need a newspaper??
    Regardless, people will always have birds and hamsters, so newspapers will always serve some kind of function. Unless of course Craig hires someone else to fill out his lists for him, and comes to everyones house to collect guano.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Don Dodge, Feb 3rd, 2006 @ 4:27pm

    Craig Newmark of craigslist is a unique and humble

    I interviewed Craig earlier this week for my blog. He is a "salt of the earth" kind of guy. He could have easily been an Internet Billionaire, and still could be any time he wants to be. To get a better view of Craig you can read my interview here. http://dondodge.typepad.com/the_next_big_thing/2006/01/interview_with_.html

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Sacha Vekeman, Feb 20th, 2006 @ 4:02am

    Paper is not evil

    I wanted to counter most of the posts by showing the readers the two sides of the coin. First of all I need to tell you that I am European based, and secondly, I have worked at both sides of the fence: printed classifieds (as an internet manager launching the Belgian classifieds portal: Easy.be) and in many pure-play internet services companies (so called new economy companies).

    Let's start with saying print is not evil. Many media groups that run a classifieds business are indeed only interested in the volume of paid listings generated by a mass audience. They don't care about the community behind the audience.

    On the other hand I have to say European media groups do care about profitability and staying in business. The cost of paper and pre-press is high, and the margin on a $20 listing in a local newspaper is narrow! It is impossible for these media groups to go for a 'free-only' model. Keep also i mind that an 'internet' only model is not optimal, as the coverage of free-local-papers is about 80% in Belgium, while the Internet penetration (broadband) is hardly reaching 50%. With other words, print does get your ad to an audience, and the response rates are high!!! Printed listings also get sometimes 20 to 30 reactions... Try it... Also remember that media groups employ many, many people. Media business is people business, as only people make the news, people create the ad and articles and people run the printing machines... who are paying them?

    Secondly, I have been working in new-economy businesses, going out of business, while the media group knows how to stay in business. I am still wondering why 'free' is such a killer word... I prefer the saying 'value for money' and with certain print classifieds editions you get value for money.

    Last but not least, Craigslist is not so flexible, adaptive and agile as an new-economy company ought to be. How long did it take Craig Newark to decide Jobs listings had to be paid for... 1 or 2 years, maybe 3 or more. A media group indeed acts as a dinosaur, but thinks in cycles of 2 to 3 years to launch new or paid-for services... I don't see that big difference.

    Anyway, I am a big fan of Craig Newark and I wish him the best. I do think tahttechnology is changing the classifieds paradigm, and not the 'free' model as such.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Zoey, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 11:34am

    Fluffy Fluffy Fluffy

    As the fruitcake lady might say, Fluffy Fluffy Fluffy..... get over it, so what is wrong with WalMart or CraigsList... this country was founded on capitalism... lmay the best and smartest capitalist win... money that is !

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Bev, Feb 6th, 2007 @ 12:26pm

    Why does Craiglist Block

    I have used Craiglist for some time now. However lately they have refused to let me post. They block me. Saying they already have the post? Why do they do this? Andy idea's or suggestions?

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2007 @ 2:44am

    THE NEWSPAPERS MAKE ENOUGH MONEY OFF THE GRIEVING WITH THE OBITS. CRAIGSLIST IS GREAT AND SO FAR I HAVENT DEALT WITH ANYONE OUT OF STATE.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Portland Oregon Real Estate Guy, Dec 23rd, 2007 @ 4:27pm

    craigslist

    Just one statistic from real estate. Even know a house is listed on MLS by putting ads out on craigslist one can increase the traffic of buyers by 9%. I think inman news had this article. I love craigslist.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Ami Chan, Sep 26th, 2008 @ 6:01pm

    There are better alternatives

    In case of craigslist, there are better alternatives and one example being AdsGlobe.com

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    easy_sex, Oct 28th, 2008 @ 11:24am

    craigslist.

    you can buy stuff on craigslist???

    shit...all i ever see is the "casual encounters" section. : )

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Brent Lacy, Nov 13th, 2008 @ 7:31am

    Craigslist Alternative

    I run a new site called MidwestAds.Net. It is similar to Craigslist, but contains no Adult content. Midwest Values are the key here.

    It includes all the basic listings- Free Stuff/ Employment/Community Events/Real Estate/Autos/Etc.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    tony, Feb 8th, 2009 @ 10:12am

    Problem with craigslist is

    If your honest seller and have some thing to sell cheap, people will flag because they dont want some thing thing cheaper then what they selling.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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    Problems with craigslist

    You know I have never used craiglist or others sites like it but maybe I'm missing out on some thing for advertising of my Auction Video site http://www.ubid4it.org/

     

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