News & Politics

Craigslist Full of “Shutdown Specials” as Budget Impasse Continues

As the shutdown continues, some furloughed workers are making up for their lost wages by unloading personal belongings.

This power drill can be yours, thanks to the government shutdown. Photograph via Craigslist.
With 373,000 federal employees on unpaid leave, the Washington area is losing about $125 million in wages every day, according to the research firm IHS Global Insight. But their deprivation may translate into some bargains for the rest of us, as affected personnel scrounge up extra cash by selling their belongings on Craigslist.
Sneakers, video games, furniture, concert tickets are among the items listed in “shutdown specials” on the online classifieds site. Tammy Heilemann, an Interior Department photographer, is selling a printer, a power drill, and a marble table, among other things.
“It was stuff I had sitting around,” Heilemann, who lives in Herndon, tells Washingtonian. She says she’s already sold an old kayak, too. Heilemann is also using her extra days off to complete an overdue yard sale.
Heilemann, 47, has been working for the federal government long enough to remember the 1995-96 shutdowns, but this one will be a rougher go. “Seventeen years ago it was a vacation,” she recalls of the two shutdowns that totaled 28 days. “I didn’t have the responsibilities I do now.” She says her finances will suffer an impact if the shutdown continues much more than a few days.
More than 30 Care Bears for $100? Could be a steal. Photograph via Craigslist.
Heilemann is far from the only person selling stuff on Craigslist because of the shutdown. Besides her wares, here are other Shutdown Specials we came across:
Tickets to see James Murphy are $40 at the door, but only $35 on a Shutdown Special. Photograph by Christian Bertrand /
Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.