Rosemary Mac Cabe

Hemlines, heels and haute couture – your daily dose

Selling your unwanted duds on – the definitive guide

If any of you follow me on Twitter or subscribe to my Facebook updates, you may have cause to complain about my recent spam: every couple of days (ahem, or minutes …) there’s an update letting you know that …

Mon, Aug 13, 2012, 07:30


If any of you follow me on Twitter or subscribe to my Facebook updates, you may have cause to complain about my recent spam: every couple of days (ahem, or minutes …) there’s an update letting you know that I’m selling my stuff and to “check it out”. I’m an addict! I started out a couple of years back when I found that I had a few designer items that I wanted to sell; a pair of Alexander Wang boots, for example, or a vintage Gucci bag I had bought at a market in Milan but was just never very “me”, and I have definitely had my ups and downs. Notable ups? Said Gucci bag sold for €200, a whole €180 more than I paid for it. Downs? Before I figured out how to use reserve prices, I sold a leather jacket I’d worn once. For €17. To a girl who lived in Russia. Ouch.

But on the way, I’ve learned some important lessons about eBay selling! Lessons I am more than willing, and possibly able, to pass on to you. So, without further ado . . .


Before you even open up your computer, do a serious assessment of what it is that you’re getting rid of. The most important thing about being an eBay seller is your reputation – people just won’t buy from you if you have bad reviews! So you probably don’t want to sell that cashmere jumper with all of the pilling and the moth-eaten sleeve. I usually sort my items into piles: sell, donate and bin. Anything that is brand new, has tags on it or has been worn only a few times gets sold. Similarly, something that’s designer or high-end will almost always end up in the “sell” pile, unless it’s severely damaged. The “donate” pile is for items that I just feel won’t get a lot of money. If you think it’s the kind of thing you’d see in a charity shop for €2, you can’t expect to get €20 for it on eBay. So this pile is nearly all of my Penneys stuff, plus any well worn Topshop, Warehouse, Oasis etc. I bin anything I wouldn’t wear – so anything damaged, stretched, stained and so on.


Here’s the slightly boring part. Work out what the absolute minimum price you’d be willing to accept for an item is. If you’re selling a pair of €500 shoes, you don’t want to find that you’ve sold them for €20 and are tied into that sale. (If you haven’t got a reserve price on your eBay item, you have to go with the highest bidder unless you remove the sale before it finishes.) The lowest reserve price you can place on an item is €70, so if you’re selling a pair of jeans and won’t accept less than €50, start the bidding at €49.99.


This is my least favourite part of the process, and probably the most time consuming. Your best bet is to enlist the help of a willing friend and spend the afternoon photographing items, using her (or you) as your model. Clothes pictured on real people have a much better chance of getting sold, as people can see what the garment actually looks like on. Photograph it from all angles – front, side and back – and go close-up on any distinguishing details. If it’s a print, get a close-up shot of the pattern; if it’s silk, get a close-up shot of the label that says that. Don’t assume that buyers will believe you; if you can show, rather than tell, that’s what you should do. With shoes, take pics of them from above, the side, the back and the soles. People want to know how much you’ve worn them.


eBaying clothes isn’t about sitting around and watching the money fall into your account – au contraire, the real gruntwork is in the details! It helps to have your items beside you when you’re inputting the nitty-gritty. What fabric is it? What size? What colour? What brand? All of these details – and more – can be put in, and the more information you give, the higher your chance of selling success. Can you tell people whether it’s dry-clean only, for example, or if it’s a stretch fabric, or whether or not it runs true to size or a little larger or smaller? These little extras can help make prospective buyers’ minds up.


There’s no use in having a Dolce & Gabbana handbag for sale if you spell “Gabbana” wrong – make sure you have the brand name, size and whether the item is new or used in the title. This is the first thing people will see, and they often won’t bother clicking through to see if it’s in their size.


If a buyer thinks you’re telling porkies when it comes to your items, they won’t buy from you; and if you sell an item that isn’t as described, they’ll give you a bad review and may open a dispute*, which is never great. If you’re selling a pair of jeans that have stretched in the wash, say that – as long as they’re in good nick and still wearable, it’s not a huge problem. It’s just you being honest. If your pair of size 6 shoes is actually a wide 5, say that too. And tell people to contact you with questions – but be sure that you’re online often enough (for example once a day) to answer it in good time.


Trying to sell summer dresses in October is really not the wisest idea; ditto, selling woollen jumpers in May. It’s tempting to just try to rid yourself of everything in one fell swoop, but think about what people are buying, and when. Put your last-season items in a box and wait for the right time. Also, don’t think you’re going to get €50 for a €65 pair of jeans. They’re secondhand, and you’ll need to cut at least 50% off the original price. (The only exceptions to this rule are designer items, which often appreciate in price, rather than depreciating, due to their scarcity, and vintage.) Even if something is brand new, you need to offer a discount – otherwise, why wouldn’t these people just go out and buy it from a regular store? eBay is there, by and large, for bargain hunters!


Before you click “done” on your listing, check that you’ve dotted all your “i”s and crossed your “t”s. Have you put on a reserve price? Have you set the bidding to a particular length of time? (I often set my auctions to last a week, or 10 days if the last day lands on a weekend, when I feel people have more time to be eBay trawling!) Have you clicked “make visible on and”? (This will make sure people in the US and Canada can see your auctions, opening things up to a much wider audience!) Have you uploaded some good photographs? Do they show the item as it really looks? Have you estimated your postage? (I usually guesstimate – I’ll charge between €2 and €5 for postage to Ireland, and double that for elsewhere. Sometimes I end up paying more, sometimes a little less, but not enough for it to make a big difference.) Are you offering a returns policy? (I offer a no-quibble returns policy. No one has ever returned anything, but I feel that if they don’t like it in the flesh, they can send it back – all the more reason to be honest and post good pics!)


If you’re successful, and you manage to sell your stuff, remember you’ll have to post them, and eBay buyers won’t wait around for you to make time to go to the post office. There’s an option to let prospective buyers know your shipping time; if you don’t know when you’ll get to the post office, you can say it will be within 10 working days, giving you two weeks. But the shorter your ship time, the more interested people will be in your products. But a word of warning: if you say you’ll ship within three days, stick to your word. eBay reputation is, after all, king.


When a sale is finished, you still need to tie up your loose ends – send your item (once you’ve received payment) and leave feedback for your buyer. Tell them what you liked (and didn’t like) about the transaction. Mark the item as dispatched and transfer the money from your PayPal to your bank. Ta-dah! You’re rich!**

* A dispute is when something goes wrong between a seller and a buyer on eBay; a complaint is sent to the eBay overlords and they try to solve the problem for the complainant.

** Not exactly. Current total? €274.16. But it’s better than nothing, right?!