Guest Contributor: Avery Watkins, Jr.
eBay is a vast site full of useless stuff. Stuff that won’t match your style. Things that will be a waste of money. But if you look closely, you will find a true gem. I get a thrill from finding great things on eBay, but that’s not my main reason for using it. I find shopping for clothes on eBay easier than going to the thrift store, because I don’t always have good luck finding men’s clothing at thrift stores. I’m patient and don’t mind waiting for things, so I use my computer skills to search for exactly what I want on eBay. Most times, I’m looking for specific things and searching on eBay makes it easier to find.
With all that said, shopping on eBay is an art and there are things to keep in mind.
1. Know what you want. As I said, there is a lot of stuff on eBay. You can type in one term and get thousands of results. If you know what you want, it helps you refine the search. If not, you will waste time looking at stuff from all over the world for all genders that have nothing to do with your interests
2. Know your size margin of error. In other words, be ready to buy a little big or small, depending on the look you are going for and be ready to call your tailor. Some clothes are used just like a thrift store and some may have already been tailored, shrunken, etc. Never assume the cut and size will fit you like something you already have in your closet.
3. Reading is fundamental:. Because you can’t try the item on or smell it or see it, you have to pay extra attention to the details in the item description. Just because it shows you a picture of a great shirt/blouse/blazer you have been looking for, doesn’t mean they’re selling you that. You need to read to make sure they aren’t just selling you the sewing print or some buttons (lol). Spend time reading the description AND check the sellers ratings. People don’t hesitate to let you know a seller is good or bad.
4. Know your price. eBay has two pricing structures: “buy it now” and “bidding.” Buy it now means you pay the fixed price that is shown and you get the item. Bidding means you and anyone else can submit a price offer for an item, which can lead to a bidding war. Knowing how much you want to pay is really important when it comes to bidding. Don’t overbid. Nothing is worth more than what you feel comfortable paying for it.
5. Patience Patience Patience. Finding what you really are looking for could take weeks, days, hours, or a few minutes. You never know, so have patience with it and you will find a gem. One of my favorite purchases took a while to find. I found a Ralph Lauren brown tweed blazer that usually retails for more than $300 for $65.
6. A Word about Bidding Patience. It is extremely important to be a patient bidder, because you might find the item of your dreams but the bidding is going on for a whole week. Don’t place your max bid in early. Bid low and just wait to the final seconds to put your final bid to increase your chances of getting the item.
I like eBay, because I can find specific things without having to spend a whole day in a thrift store, and I can do it all while sitting on my couch. If you need something immediately, eBay might not be the best option. But if you have some time and patience, check it out. There are some hidden gems there.