This post comes from a slightly perturbed me. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with eBay. As a vintage lover it’s a great place to seek out vintage pieces, however it’s so easy to get it wrong too and waste your money on something that’s not what you thought it was.
This happened to me AGAIN today, I was eagerly anticipating the postman’s arrival as I’d ordered a new “1950s” dress. When it arrived I could tell straight away that it wasn’t what I thought I was getting at all. The tell-tale signs were there – polyester, over locking, etc. It’s a nice dress but what I paid for was a cotton 1950s dress. I don’t think the seller was being deliberately misleading I just don’t think they’d done their homework.
The age of vintage is so important to the price so if you are selling online it is so important to know the basics. If an online shop did this there would be outrage, however it happens on eBay and Etsy everyday. I know people want to get the maximum money for things but selling something which is not what it seems is totally counter productive. It can result in cases being taken out and negative feedback, so it’s important not to make mistakes even if you do it unknowingly.
There are plenty of people happy to buy 80s does 50s dresses but they need to know what they’re buying!
Anyway it’s not like me to be ranty about things so I’ll move on. To get it out of my system I thought I’d do a list of eBay dos and don’ts when selling vintage.
– Do your research, if your going to be selling a lot of vintage get a couple of books to help you date items accurately, there are also a lot of online recourses to help for example The Vintage Fashion Guild website and Sammy Davis Vintage.
– Do take great pictures, take as many pictures as possible from all angles including lots of close-ups. Make sure you show any damage or faults, it doesn’t mean the item won’t sell as most vintage buyers are happy to do the odd repair. It’s also useful to include a picture of the label if there is one.
– Do include measurements, vintage sizing is so different to modern sizing that I don’t usually buy anything without measurements. Just include bust, waist, hip and length.
– Do put as much information in the title as possible, there is room to include what the item is, what material it is and what size. This will draw people’s attention to your item if that’s what they are looking for.
– Do include a lengthy description, make sure all the details are there, including age, material, damage etc. Everything should be there. If you’re not 100% sure of the age or material then say that in the description. Just don’t try to guess in case you don’t get it right.
– Do give details about delivery times, returns, and other items you may be selling. If it’s all there then the buyer knows what to expect and may take a look at your other items too.
– Do keep your postage charges fair and offer combined postage if people buy more than one thing. Check the Royal Mail website for accurate postage charges.
– Do send in good time (I’m terrible at this but promise to try harder) or if you only post items out once a week just state this in your listing.
– Don’t guess the age of an item unless you say you’re not sure. Like I said above you don’t want to risk getting it wrong.
– Don’t hide the facts, if something isn’t in good condition or has staining and damage you have to say so. It sounds obvious, but it happens a lot and people will only be annoyed when their item arrives. It doesn’t mean it wont sell, but don’t expect people to pay premium prices for something that needs work.
– Don’t ignore the buyer, keep in touch with the buyer if there are any delays, most people won’t mind and it saves them having to chase their item.
– Don’t list something as vintage when it’s not!!!!! Saying “vintage style” 9 times out of 10 is not OK either. A Primark floral print dress is not vintage style. If something is reproduction vintage just say so, that’s fine. (This is my personal opinion here, I just find all the vintage style stuff gets in the way of me finding what I’m looking for.)
– * edit – just thought of another one – Don’t use heavily scented fabric conditioner or perfume on the item. So often I open a parcel and I’m greeted with an over whelming smell. If you want to freshen up a piece of vintage give it a gentle wash, and hang it out to air. I’d rather smell a slightly musty vintage smell than be over powered by so much fabric conditioner that the item feels sticky.
I’m sure I’ll think of more later, but if you have any tips for selling on eBay please add them to the comments.
As for my new dress, I feel bad sending it back so I’m going to keep it and count my losses but next time I’ll message for more details before bidding.
Other posts you might like…
So You Want to Start a Vintage Business
My Tips for Selling at Vintage Fairs
thevintagetravelerAugust 30, 2013 at 6:33 pm
I hate when that happens. You are all happy about the item arriving and the moment you open the package, thud! The heart hits the floor. Like you, I’ve learned to ask questions.
bookettaAugust 30, 2013 at 7:27 pm
Great post! Some very useful info there about selling on eBay and not just for vintage. It’s advice that goes across the board.
Helen MaeAugust 30, 2013 at 8:18 pm
I’ve had this same problem a couple of times recently. Luckily I love the items anyway, but I wish everyone was following guidelines like you’ve set out here!
SarahAugust 30, 2013 at 8:35 pm
Agree completely! I would only add that, if you list measurements, to specify whether or not the garment is laying flat or being stretched to the max. I’ve ordered, and thought it would fit me just right, only for it to be skin tight when I tried it on. Measurements have to be very precise.
I think everyone has been disappointed with eBay at some point.
catwalkcreativeAugust 31, 2013 at 9:06 am
You’re a girl after my own heart! Thank you for writing about this. I’m in the vintage retail business but I also buy vintage for my own personal collection. I’ve also received pieces that are not ‘as stated’, often to do with the condition of the piece. These sellers give everyone else in the industry a bad name.
When I sell something, I OVER-STATE any condition issue and include a photograph of the area too. I also include complete measurements. Being a member of the Vintage Fashion Guild means that trade members have to stick to a code of practice. It’s only when we know ALL the facts that we can make an informed decision to buy.
I’m sick to death of seeing altered vintage frocks on Etsy and eBay and the seller doesn’t even mention the fact. Ugh! I realise that not everyone is bothered whether or not a dress has been shortened to within an inch of its life, but is does matter a great deal to a true vintage fashon enthusiast. Were there mini dresses in the 1950s? I think not! There are enough genuine mini dresses from the 1960s to go around for everyone so why ruin the lines of a beautiful 40s/50s dress? Arghhhhhhhhh!
I wouldn’t mind spending ‘top-dollar’ on a vintage dress with a missing button OR a hemline that needed attention – providing that I know about it beforehand.
Vent over! 😉 xx
Jessica CangianoSeptember 3, 2013 at 6:35 am
Yes, yes and a resounding yes across the boards! This should be required reading for all eBay users upon signing up.
I share your love-hate relationship with eBay. I do use it, but have scaled back in recent years a fair bit, favouring etsy, other online shops, and (if possible) real world shopping whenever possible.