to shop / downsizing my closet, part 4 (tips for reselling on eBay)

It’s been a while since I had a downsizing post. Three years to be exact. As someone who likes new fangled things, I do not bring every material good into my home with the intent of keeping it “forever”. So it’s a good thing I don’t mind the trouble of reselling. If I didn’t care about money, I would’ve donated all of it, but I’d like a return for what I’ve spent even if it’s what I call “lunch money” (which isn’t that cheap here).

Here are tips on reselling on eBay (and a few notes for Poshmark):

Photos. Take actual photos and make sure they are flattering. Use natural sunlight if you can. If you can find stock photos, add them in as well but be aware that on eBay some companies are vigilant about pulling down photos (whether it’s reported by another user or they have someone trolling posts). This is the case for Uniqlo, Zara, and Asos, and used to be the case for J.Crew, but I think they stopped. I’ve also gotten a listing for COS pulled but I’m pretty sure it was reported by another user (competitor). If you use Poshmark, I don’t think you have to worry at all about stock photos. You are limited to the number of photos, I sometimes do collages for Poshmark. In general, I save stock photos and descriptions of what I buy as a record for myself and it makes it easier when I want to resell.

Measurements. I hate getting questions on measurements so I will include basic measurements when I post. Yes, it’s painful but I’ve found that stuff goes a lot quicker this way. I’ve become best friends with my measuring tape.

Condition. I’m very descriptive and will admit if it’s dusty/wrinkly, etc. and needs to be cleaned. I’m definitely not washing everything I’m selling, but am not selling anything that’s in a deplorable condition.

Pricing. Be realistic. Do you want to maximize your inflow or just get some money to get rid of it? What is the going price (you can search completed listings)? I do fixed price listings on eBay and almost always have the Best Offer option enabled, with a minimum price built in. Many folks buy without attempting an offer. I also do periodic sweeps and will lower my prices.

Take Home Pay. For new sellers, find a calculator online to figure out how much you’re taking home after eBay fees, PayPal fees, etc. If you use Poshmark, the app will tell you your future earnings when you finalize your listing.

Shipping. I always have a flat shipping fee stated for the US with some padding built in to absorb the fee/trouble. If you’re not familiar with shipping items, have a very good understanding before you list an item, or else you may eat away your earnings with shipping fees. I also have the luxury of not having to go to the post office. I drop items off for pickup 99.9% of the time. If it’s something expensive ($750+) and I need a receipt for drop-off, I will go in person.

  • “Free” Shipping. Since eBay charges you fee for 10% of your shipping fee, sometimes it makes sense to pad it into your price. Especially, if it’s a fairly cheap item that can be mailed via First Class Mail* (under 16 ounces through PayPal/eBay shipping). But don’t always offer free shipping. If you can’t afford for someone to reject your package and eat the cost, don’t do free shipping.
  • Shipping Supplies. For eBay, I ship First Class Mail and Priority Mail 99.9% of the time. For First Class Mail (up to 16 oz on eBay/PayPal), I’ve purchased padded poly envelopes and poly bags from eBay (link) and save almost all of the bubble padding that I get from my own online purchases. Since First Class Mail requires precision down to the ounce, I have a basic scale that I got for free from eStamps ages ago. For Priority Mail, I ship most often with padded flat rate envelopes that you need to order from USPS (link). For times when I can’t use the above (or Poshmark), I use my own boxes or Priority Mail boxes. My favorite tape is purchased from Amazon (link). I also use shipping label paper (link). In general, you shouldn’t be spending much on supplies unless you sell a lot.
  • International Shipping. I used to ship internationally on my own, but now I use eBay’s Global Shipping program where you ship your item to a US eBay center and then they ship it to the buyer abroad. It’s stress-free because I only have to worry about domestic tracking — eBay handles the international part which can be stressful. The pricing the buyer sees includes customs and eBay relies on the seller to put a weight estimate (especially if it’s over a pound). I’m not sure how eBay transports the items but I heard they might do a bulk shipment.

When to Sell. It’s best to sell in-season, but if you can’t, it’s not the end of the world. For some reason, Uniqlo lightweight down sells fairly well in the summer.

Handling Time. I’m not Amazon Prime. I put 5 business days and have done 10 before in the past. Better to exceed expectations than not meet them. Once in a while, I have an annoying buyer asking if I can ship immediately. I point back to my handling time. Poshmark has stricter rules on how soon you have to ship.

Cross-posting. I sometimes do eBay and Poshmark. Poshmark is a pain, in my opinion, because it’s only available on the app. Certain things tend to sell easier on Poshmark for higher prices to boot, so don’t discount that (my guess is some people never withdraw their earnings and use that to shop). eBay is still better for niche brands (including Muji, Uniqlo) and Poshmark is better for mainstream/trend.

What I’ve been Selling

Skincare/Haircare/Cosmetics. I tend to stock up so there were instances where I stopped using a product, stuff expiring faster than I can use it, or “free samples” or items that came in a set. It is also quite amazing how people will pay more than full price for something that they can buy online. Note: you can’t sell used cosmetics on eBay and Poshmark but you can sell used skincare/haircare on eBay (not sure about Poshmark).

  • Sample/travel sizes from Birchbox (no longer getting this), Sephora Play!, and Sephora orders. I categorize my samples for the most part using Ikea clear plastic bins. I bundled samples and listed them by category (e.g. perfume, foundation, eye shadow/blush, one brand, skincare, etc.) These were all instances where some $ was better than none and I got enough money for probably a few retail Birchboxes. Some samples sell well on their own or if you have multiples of the same brand, e.g. NARS, Tata Harper, Drunk Elephant, and Glamglow. (Although if I knew anyone local who liked this stuff, I would’ve given it away for free.)

Costume Jewelry/Belts. I used to like buying them way too much!

(Sun)glasses. I’m not a nostalgic person for keeping my history of sunglasses. I even sold my old glasses frame (they were a designer brand). These sell better on Poshmark.

Plaid/Black/Navy Clothes. I got sized out, have something too similar, and/or didn’t love it anymore. In general, most clothes I have are of good quality (whether it is fashion or not), well maintained, and had little to no signs of wear. Photographing black/navy is not the most fun.

Buttondown Shirts. There are some J.Crew buttondowns that I’m sad to see go, but there just isn’t enough time to wear all of them. (Blazers will be next…)

Sample Sale Hauls. I went to these in my younger days with much regret. I’m finally selling some of that stuff. This includes lots of leather Baggu items and Orla Kiely. I avoid sample sales now.

Purses. In general, anything that I’ve bought in recent years that I didn’t LOVE most likely was eliminated. I’ve gotten rid of my Clare V non-totes and all but one of my vintage Coach bags (many of them are too small to be practical).

Old Navy. This goes for any non-activewear. I’ve bought a decent amount of cotton dresses over the years and I end up falling out of love with them. They resell fairly well considering how much I bought them for.

weekends / saturday six (2016.04.09)

(1) I love bringing Suja Mighty Greens juice to work in a S’well bottle, since it stays chilled. The extra large bottle from Costco is reasonably cheap and it lasts us for a few days. We grab a few bottles every time we go to Costco. You can find the S’well bottles here and here. I have a 9 oz for juice and a 17 oz gold one for water, which always gets comments.

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to shop / downsizing my closet, part 2

My, how things have changed since my eBay days in college. eBay’s policies are so pro-buyer and apparently now PayPal (eBay’s payment service) reports to the IRS if you sell over $20,000/year and have over 200 transactions. If you decide to sell on eBay, you need to read up and protect yourself.

Recent lessons learned

  • Negative feedback: My eBay feedback is over 1000, but the percentage only includes the past twelve months. I recently got a negative but managed to make the buyer feel bad enough to retract after she got her shoes. Never feel bad about stating the facts.
  • Low DSR: DSR stands for detailed seller rating. When someone leaves feedback, they have four categories to rate you on: item as described, communication, shipping time, and shipping and handling charges. There are US standards, global standards, etc. If you fall below the standard, eBay will limit your activity and/or withhold your cashflow — it sucks — as well as bar you from becoming a PowerSeller (i.e. discounts)!
    • Further research showed that you can get an automatic 5 stars for shipping time if you indicate handling time of one day, ship by the next business day, and the item is delivered within 4 business days (this is so biased towards those in the Midwest). You can also get an automatic 5 stars for s&h charges if you offer free shipping, which I now include for all US buyers.
  • Fake allegations: A difficult Asian girl in IL kept on insisting a Marc by Marc Jacobs shirt was fake because of the label and loose threads inside. I’m Asian too and I know the fob ways and puh-lease, I have the Neiman Marcus receipt! She said she called the MJ store to confirm that this type of label is fake and that the only clothing items that had my label were sold in Asia. Her email was sent within 2 hours of receiving the item, on Christmas Eve. (1) Stores don’t authenticate via phone, let alone give you the time of day on Christmas Eve. (2) There isn’t enough evidence online to say that only Asian sellers have one type of MJ label on their clothing (3) But, she was willing to accept the shirt for another $10 credit? Pfff. All in all, when you try to unload low-end designer like MBMJ for a low price, you attract crazies like this Asian girl.
  • Designer goods: High-end designers like YSL and Gucci sell slowly because they limit how many auctions you can list a month. Very aggravating. On the flip side, their customer service line is very efficient and sometimes they will lift the ban. Also, I’ve heard tons of nightmares of selling designer goods on eBay. Most of my stuff is more classic and less trendy items — hopefully that will not attract unscrupulous folks.
  • Tracking in International Priority Mail: Apparently there is no tracking for flat rate envelopes or small flat rate boxes. I found out after I sent two items in small flat rate boxes. Good thing the buyers were honest…
  • $250+ items: Always get signature confirmation. I never did this before and am also glad I had honest buyers.
  • Understating customs values or declaring items as gifts: Both are illegal and plenty of people ask for it. eBay will only protect you if you explicitly state in your auction that the buyer is responsible for all fees, taxes, etc. I have a huge disclaimer in all auctions now!

Other things I’ve realized

  • How my shopping habits would change if everything was final sale.
  • Taking pictures of items are such a hassle. I bought a roll of cream canvas from the local art store and usually photograph everything on top and natural light. This has worked pretty well. For J.Crew items, I don’t bother capturing the entire item but tell the bidder what to google to find J.Crew modeling pics.
  • Sometimes it’s not about making money but liquidating and passing whatever I don’t want to a loving home. I rather that than have it lay in a landfill somewhere. I have similar thoughts of buying cheap stuff for one-time use (which also carries a high cost per wear).
  • I have a Repetto addiction, but I know I can’t keep everything, as pretty as they are. So I take a picture, sell them on eBay, and bid them farewell. These were limited edition with Comme des Garçons. The white suede just wasn’t practical.

Really? Someone paid how much for that? (New, unless otherwise stated)

  • Gap vest with faux fur hood from 2006 collection. (Yes, 2006.) Sold for retail.
  • Gap ballet flats from 2006 collection as well. They are better quality than those current city flats. Sold over retail! Buyer was ecstatic to find them on eBay.
  • Bobbi Brown compact that was limited edition and super rare. This was sold for almost double its retail. Where did the other two I bought go…
  • Discontinued Baggu backpack purchased at warehouse sale, sold at retail. 
  • Nude polka dot Zara silk top that was worn a few times sold for way more than Spanish retail.
  • Discontinued, unversatile baby blue Kate Spade (I think it was a 2005 model) still sells really well… I just never got into KS.
  • Lots of Forever 21 that I wore once or twice and just didn’t love. Saving all stock photos and descriptions help immensely.

to shop / downsizing my closet

Living in a city with expensive real estate translates into tiny spaces with miniscule closets (if even). After years of carefree (bargain) shopping, my pile of treasure grew into a mountain and exploded out of my closet. Really! My friends say they would love to “see my closet” or “shop my room” but I am too embarassed, for now. I’ve been slowly liquidating some items on eBay. Before I go further, I will mention that I used to be an eBay Powerseller in my college days, so selling on eBay comes easier to me than for others.

I like to buy now and think later, especially when there is a great sale. Some of the items I’ve had luck in unloading lately are:

  • Gap ballet flats (both travel and cap toe) that I mentioned earlier. I sold them for $30-40. Most were new but there were 2 pairs that were gently used.
  • Repetto ballet flats. Whenever I buy expensive shoes, I wait a while before I wear them because I need to take to the cobbler first and I want to be 100% sure I am keeping them. So far, I’ve sold 2 pairs and may sell 1 more pair at the right price.
  • Longchamp. I’ve sold some new Le Pliage/Planetes bags in colors I know I’ll never use. I also unloaded a beautiful Veau Foulonne (think leather Le Pliage) that I bought in Paris 4 years ago – it was too delicate and I didn’t use it for 3.5 years! I have more new leather products to unload, but haven’t had time to take pics.
  • J.Crew. J.Crew is very popular on eBay and I used to sell a LOT of it in college. It’s not as easy to sell now because J.Crew pulls your auction if you use their stock image. Anyways, I don’t return everything I get from final sales to Amex because I know I can wait a little bit and post it on eBay. Sometimes it goes for way more, because it’s “sold out and rare”. Sometimes I just make a little.
  • Shoes, in general. I’ve concluded that Cole Haan Nike Air shoes don’t really like my feet. I had 3 year pair of nude patent pumps that I wore once at a friend’s wedding – I sold them for almost what I paid for them! I will never buy used shoes on eBay, but it doesn’t mean someone else won’t buy mine…

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