When Common Sense Takes a Holiday: Purchasing A Soaking Tub on Craigslist

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Today, we're going on a little trip down memory lane because several of you have asked about the tub that I purchased on Craigslist but first, a little background. A few weeks ago, I made the mistake of telling my oldest son that I consider myself  frugal.  He quickly reminded me that frugal was probably a stretch but we could both agree that I am (at least most of the time), thrifty. So, when a thrifty girl like me who has a "day job"in corporate finance, a passion for all things vintage, and a degree in design decides to renovate a 1950's ranch house, finding the best possible price on things involves shopping..and often, the Internet.

Enter, Craigslist; the great mecca of all things old and heavy and made of cast iron that for some reason need to find a new home... my home. It's like EBay (without the bidding), or Etsy (without the handmade or art). It's like one, giant online garage sale that I can shop 24 hours a day, seven days a week! It's my dream shopping environment and my family's worst nightmare. I have found that I can cover most of Illinois and the southern part of Wisconsin in a couple of hours without spending a cent on gasoline or leaving the comfort of my sofa.

Until I decided to renovate the farmhouse, my Craigslist purchases were limited to a few pieces of furniture but now, I've got a two-page spreadsheet with a list of farmhouse "parts" that I'm looking for and I've got a total of about eight months to find them.

Earlier this year, I shared  the story of the pot filler and bathroom accessories that I found on Craigslist. That trip was simple, my "finds" fit in a grocery sack on the floor of the passenger side of my Toyota.  Things were going well, and I got more comfortable with the potential for plumbing part purchase success.  So comfortable in fact, that when I found a 5 foot long, 1924, Kohler cast iron farmhouse sink for $125 located less than an hour from my house, I didn't even blink when I told the guy I'd take it! After all...it even had the original, enamel-coated legs!
After all, we've got a Chevy Blazer that has 200,000 miles on it. It has seen its share of baseball equipment, loads of landscaping and other vintage stuff that I've hauled home over the years. It's not a "pretty" car...it's a work truck.  The fact that the farmer that I purchased the sink from had used a fork lift to load the sink onto his pick up truck didn't slow me down for more than a second while I negotiated the patch of ice between his truck and the back of the Blazer.

Surely, 3 grown adults could lift a sink over the two foot space between the vehicles and slide it from the pick up into the Blazer...Right?!   Of course they can! I smiled all the way home with the sink sitting comfortably in the back of the truck.  It rode around back there for ten days until my son came home from college. I didn't really mind since we had a really cold and snowy winter and the weight of the sink helped the truck with traction.

Eventually, I cleared a space in the garage and the sink came out of the truck and was placed along the east wall... next to the Christmas decorations. In the photo above, you can see her in all of her glory with the legs (and the great folding door that my friend Maureen gave to me when she replaced her back door this spring. I think that I'm going to use the door for the master bath...or maybe the pantry).

Even with a 5 foot, cast iron, farmhouse sink along the wall, there was still plenty of room to park two cars in the garage and be able to make it to the door to get into the house. The "afterglow" of my successful purchase lasted for a couple of weeks. That was until I found....the tub! (Did I mention that we had a crappy winter?!) I have a confession to make, when the weather's bad (Aw heck, even when it's  not), I surf Craigslist....I never know what I'll find ...especially if it's large.... and made of cast iron.

I had my heart set on a free standing soaking tub for our master bath renovation. I knew that I wanted cast iron for long term durability and because it holds the heat better. I did my homework and decided on Kohler...until I saw the price. That tub is the single most expensive plumbing item that I needed to purchase for Phase 2 of the renovation. Brand new, the tub would cost more than my entire plumbing budget so I searched...for months...on Craigslist.

Then, in the early spring just after I hung up with our architect,  I found the tub of my dreams in Chicago. I called immediately. Looking back, my conversation  with the wonderful lady who owned the tub was almost comical.
Her: Yes, I still have it. Would you like to come to see it?
Me: Absolutely! Do you think that two people can move it? Will it fit into the back of a Chevy Blazer?
Her: My construction foreman said that it will take four strong men to move it. It weighs 485 lbs.
Me: Oh. Okay. I guess that I'll need to hire movers.
Her: Okay.  We live on the 39th floor of a condo building and only movers that are on an approved list can enter the building.
Me: (Pausing and taking a deep breath). That's not a problem. Let me come and look at it. I can figure this out.

That night after work, I drove, to downtown Chicago to a street just off of Lakeshore Drive, and there on the 39th floor of the most beautiful condo I've ever seen, was "the tub"
                                                                                          ...all 42 x 72 inches and 485 lbs. of it!

It was gorgeous, essentially brand new, and I knew immediately that I would find a way to have it...
                                                                ....even if it meant that I had to hire a moving company to move it.

Which  it did... and I did...and now it's in the garage....around the corner from the sink.  Thankfully, summer's here and the car is okay outside. I'm hopeful that by this winter, the sink and the tub will have homes in the mudroom and the master bathroom and I won't have to feel sorry for whomever it is (hint: it won't be me) has to spend the winter scraping the ice and snow off of his car.  

Come to think of it, I may need to park outside for awhile too....I found the perfect tub for the upstairs bathroom on Craigslist this weekend....sadly, someone beat me to it so at least my car will be in the garage until after the 4th.