Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mastering the Art of Ebay

{by Rachel Coker}
The following scenario has happened to me too many times to remember:

I walk into a room and do a little swish just to show off my new skirt. The light catches some of the sequins and bounces the reflection across the room. Girls’ mouths drop open. (Okay, I’m exaggerating, but you know…) Someone will run up to me and gasp, “Oh, Rachel! Where on earth did you get that skirt? It’s to die for!” (Now I’m really exaggerating, but who really cares, right?)

That’s when I turn and wink at the imaginary camera. “Ebay. Ten dollars. It’s vintage.”

Usually I expect squeals of excitement from my fellow female-kind at this wonderful fortune, but the response is often quite different. My girly companion will frown, the light lost in her eyes. “Oh,” she’ll say with a little sigh. “I could never be able to do that. Shopping on Ebay is just too hard.”

Well, fear not, women around the world! Because take it from someone who does probably 75% of her shopping online—it’s really not! In fact, I think that you would find it deceptively simple, deliciously rewarding, and most definitely satisfactory. In the following steps (can you hear my broadcaster voice?) I will carefully outline four foul-proof ways to defeat your fear of internet retail and conquer your wardrobe and budget!

The main purpose of this article is to share some of my “secrets” for scoring great finds on Ebay. I’d really like to encourage you to discover the many joys of shopping on Ebay! And when I say “discover” I don’t mean check out, chicken out, and log out. I mean take the time to really explore it and feel comfortable shopping on it. I think that over half my clothes come from Ebay. This may shock a lot of people (“So your clothes are used?”, “So you have to bid on them?”, “So someone you don’t even know has to ship them to you?”), but the truth is shopping on Ebay can actually be pretty easy.

There are, however, a few tricks to make it even simpler!

Step One: Know What You Want

I think that the biggest problem is that most people are just too overwhelmed to attack something as big as Ebay in the right way. All they know is that they want a skirt. So they type in “skirt” and then freak out when 484,000 search results pop up. Yeah, that’s a lot of skirts. Now how are you going to narrow it down?

When I sit down to browse the wonderland of Ebay, I usually already have in mind what I want. Brown leather riding boots. A black lace dress. An orange trench coat. And so that’s what I type into the search box. You have to be specific. You have to know what you want. A skirt is a good start. A pencil skirt is even better. A pinstripe pencil skirt is great—now you’re getting specific.

Step Two: Know What You’ve Got

Well, the first thing to keep in mind is your dress size. If you’re a size 6, then at least type in “ladies skirt size 6”. How do you know what your size is? Take your measurements and compare them to a site like the one below. Measure your waist, your chest…everything. And then write it down on a notecard or something to keep by your computer. Then keep in mind as you’re browsing, what size you are.
The second important thing to remember is your budget. Know beforehand what you’re willing to spend. So you want a new trench coat. How much would you spend if you bought one in the store? That should be your same guide on Ebay. Don’t get overexcited if you see a super cute coat for $12 and expect it to stay that price.  It may very well go up. Evaluate the coat, and figure out how much you’d be willing to spend on it if you saw it in the store. $20? $30? That way, if the price goes up due to bidding, you’ll know when it reaches your limit. Even if it goes up, a good-quality coat for $22 is still a wonderful price!

If you’re really limited, look to the area on the left side of the page that says “Price”. If your budget is, say, $50, then type “50” in the second box and enter. Voila! Every item that comes up will be under $50!

Step Three: Get Comfortable!

So many people are afraid of getting ripped off when they buy on Ebay. They’ve heard the horror stories of an item never arriving/arriving damaged/arriving not as described. Well, I’ll be honest and say that this has happened to me probably once. Out of dozens and dozens of Ebay transactions I’ve made over the years. But is the fear of that happening one time going to keep me from all my other wonderful adventures on Ebay? Not a chance!

If you’re unsure about something, ask the seller himself! Say you find the perfect dress, but you’re not sure if it would fit. Scroll to the bottom of the listing, click the “Ask a Question” button, and send a short email to the seller asking what the measurements are. Same thing if you want to know if something is dry clean only, or has any tears, or is returnable if it doesn’t fit. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in order to make yourself feel more comfortable!

Step Four: Take Risks!

Now, all of this knowledge is useless until you actually get out there and bid on something! Go out there and search one of your favorite designers, or a certain type of dress you’ve never been able to find in stores. Shopping on Ebay is about finding unique, high-quality, lovely clothing at a fraction of the cost. You’d be amazed at what you’d find! If nothing else, do it so that when someone gushes over your new skirt or shoes, you can just shrug and say, “Fifteen dollars. Ebay.” Trust me, you’ll feel way cool.

If anyone has any questions about Ebay, I’d be happy to answer them! I’m not an expert, but I’ve had a lot of experience in the past and know a lot more than you might expect! ;) 


  1. wow, what a cool post! i'm definetly going to have to try these tips and start shopping on ebay now!

  2. Haha, I can definitely say that eBay has intimidated me:) But after these hints, I think I'll give it a try, thanks for the how-to, Rachel!

  3. Yeah! I hope to see soon everyone clad in Ebay-won ensembles! ;)

  4. yea!!!!! thanks so much Rachel.
    i am always ebay shopping but am to chicken to bid on what I like. Guess I won't be anymore!!!! :D