Thrift Score: Fuzzy Long Wool Dress

 

Here’s a vintage piece that was a gamble for me. I’ve never sold this label, but I had a few reasons to bring it home and list it.  Searching “fuzzy turtleneck dress” turns up a recurring brand called Supertanya, which sells mohair sweaters, dresses, scarves and socks. I was amazed to see dozens of sold listings, selling for $75 and up.  I figured with the bright color and oversized fit I could find a buyer, even if this wasn’t mohair and wasn’t SuperTanya.

Purchased: $5 +tax

Sold: $29.99 + $6.99 shipping
As you can see, my profit margin was minimal. However, since my turnover rate was so fast, I call this a win! And now I have solid evidence that long, fuzzy, turtleneck dresses are a thrift score.

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Look at the fuzz! Look at the pockets!

 

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Embroidered label instead of printed? That usually means good quality!

 

Have you found a thrift score lately? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Thrift Score: ETRO Matching Skirt & Top

Last week I found this beautiful matching skirt & top by designer ETRO. I was shopping at a local benefit thrift store called CHKD. It’s not my usual haunt, but I’m so glad I stopped by!

Purchased: $10 plus tax.

Sold: $163.50 plus $4.99 shipping.

 

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The listing started at $99 and there were 6 bids. The first offers came just a few hours before the auction ended.

Obviously, I don’t know EVERY designer brand out there–or whether they are worth the cost and effort to resell. This was the first time I came across ETRO. So how did I know to buy it? These clues:

  • European sizes.
  • Made in Italy.
  • Unique print that did not look mass produced on a soft, silky fabric.
  • Marketable size (women’s large)
  • And of course I researched the brand on Ebay’s sold listings and found it consistently sold for a great price.

Happy thrifting!

Ebay Question: Should I Offer International Shipping?

 

YES!

YES! YES! YES!

Now, don’t go reading any forums about ebay and international shipping because you’ll find hundreds of disgruntled people who sent iPhones to some war torn country and then found out their package got “lost” and had to refund $600 to the buyer and never saw their phones again. But that ain’t you. You’re shipping clothes, and those rarely get stolen.  (That’s what my blog is all about, reselling fashion and accessories. If you’re trying to ship gold bars or something, you should ask somebody who’s done that. That someone is not me.)

I’ve shipped nearly 100 items internationally and never had anything go missing. I’m guessing that “women’s sweater” listed on the customs form isn’t real enticing to those mustache twirling bad guys sorting the mail. In almost every case, my international packages have ended up exactly where they were supposed to be.

“Aren’t customs forms complicated?” you ask.

The answer is, nope, absolutely not, unless you ask a Postal worker about them. Please don’t do this, you’ll just get confused. Use the Ebay label printing service. All you have to do is type in what’s in the package (like “women’s pants” or “men’s shirt” or whatever broad category your item falls into). Then print your label, write the date, and sign your name. Your postal carrier can pick up your international packages just like any other package.

I’ve seen many ebay sellers insist on using USPS Priority International because it is slightly faster, includes insurance, and offers more precise tracking info. Unfortunately, it is prohibitively expensive. The cheapest priority rate offering by the USPS (without ebay label discount) is $33. The same package sent First Class International would cost $11. I think for the additional $22, you can afford to self-insure and there is still some basic tracking provided through ebay. You’ll also get more international business by offering more affordable shipping services. It’s a win-win.

“What about that Global Shipping Program Ebay offers?”

I looked into it and decided it was not for me. It was  going to add transit time to my packages since it involves sending orders to an Ebay sorting facility here in the states, and then letting them ship your package internationally. It’s already so easy to ship internationally anyhow, why would I get Ebay to do it? My advice is to do your own international shipping with USPS First Class International and relax. After you’ve completed a few international shipments, you’ll wonder what you were so worried about.

Do you have questions about reselling clothing on ebay? Ask in the comments below!

What to Buy At Thrift Stores: Men’s Safety Boots

Do you know how expensive it is to buy NEW safety boots? We’re talking over $200. But these boots are as sturdy as they are pricey. I love finding them at thrift stores because  buyers don’t mind if these boots are a little beat up. As long as they are structurally sounds (no crack in the soles or tears in the uppers), they maintain good value.  Even off-brand safety boots can get good prices, especially if they have oil/slip resistant soles and steel toes.

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Even with beat up toes, these boots got a good price

Some good men’s safety and work boot brands to look for:

Ariat

Carhartt

Caterpiller

Georgia Boot

Red Wing

Rocky

Timberland

Wolverine

Have you ever passed over a pair of work boots thinking no one would want them? Wail about it below!

Ebay Question: Should I Offer Free Shipping?

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This is a beleaguered point within the eCommerce community. There are supporters of both sides. But here’s my point of view, offered specifically for you guys and gals who are focusing on reselling fashion on a small scale.

Don’t do it.

If you’re a small business, one or two person show, with a low operating budget, you don’t have the resources to absorb the cost of “free shipping” and believe me, it will cost you. The simple fact that you are buying at thrift stores and liquidation, and offering your items at rock bottom prices, doesn’t leave you much financial room for marketing strategies like “Free Shipping.” There is no such thing as free shipping, just disguised shipping, and somebody is paying for it.

Here’s the only advantage:

PRO:

  • It may bump up your listings in the Ebay search results.

Notice that I say it “MAY” as in, it also may not. Those search algorithms change and there are a lot of other factors playing into the search bot’s calculations.

CONS:

  • Your price appears higher than your calculated shipping competition, even  if it’s really not.
  • You have to charge more for shipping than may be necessary to account for shipping an item farther. This is especially true for heavy or awkwardly shaped items (like boots or coats).
  • Your buyer doesn’t know how much they are spending on the item and how much is the shipping costs.
  • If the item is returned, Ebay’s return management system does not give you the option of deducting actual original shipping costs. You just have to eat it.

The most compelling reason I have for using calculated shipping is that Ebay does not require sellers to offer free shipping to qualify for Top Rated status. So with that in mind, all those CONs staring me in the face, I offer calculated or flat shipping rates.

Do you agree? Do you have a pressing Ebay fashion resale question? Comment below!

What to Buy at Thrift Stores: Dansko Clogs & Comfort Shoes

pizap.com14552241652481Listed from top, left to right: Dansko, Dankso, Dansko, Dansko, Sanita, Dansko, Sanita, Sanita, LL Bean, Orthoheel, Orthoheel, LL Bean, Haflinger, Josef Seibel, Antelope, & Clarks Wallabees.

Women’s comfort shoes–reliable, supportive, and even kinda cute! You can expect to get $20-$40 per pair (sometimes more if you find a particularly hot design or brand). I recommend not spending more than $5-6 per pair to make sure that you can get a good enough profit to cover your expenses. Here are some of my favorite comfort brands to find thrifiting:

  1. Dansko
  2. Birkenstock (& sister brands: Betula, Papillio, Tatami)
  3. Sanita
  4. Orthoheel
  5. LL Bean
  6. Haflinger
  7. Josef Sibel
  8. Clarks Wallabees (this one is tricky, some Clark’s don’t sell well)
  9. Antelope
  10. Naot
  11. Alegria
  12. Earthies
  13. Kalso Earth
  14. Mephisto
  15. Rieker
  16. Sorel
  17. Taryn Rose

Some of these brands turn up more regularly than others in thrift stores (I find Dansko, Sanita, Orthoheel, and Birkenstock all the time) but some are more elusive. When you know what to look for, it’s a lot easier to grab those good deals when you see them. You can do more research by using ebay’s sold listings to find out if what you’ve come across in the thrift store is worth it.

 

Happy thrifting!

What to Do When You Get Negative Feedback

Grumpy-Cat

Oh no.

There it is.

A big red minus sign and 80 angry characters from your buyer.

It’s awful.

First things first. Take a deep breath. In. Out. One more time for good measure. In. Out. Now, here’s what you do:

Assess whether this is truly your fault or if the buyer had unfounded expectations. Do not get emotional even if the buyer has been rude or vulgar. 

Examples of unfounded expectations from buyers:

“The color was more reddish than pinkish in person” You can’t account for color differences across computers and smart phones, so this isn’t your fault.

“This looked longer on the mannequin” Assuming you gave all the neccesary measurements–you did, didn’t you?–it’s the buyer’s responsibility to read them.

“This dress has belt loops but no belt” If you didn’t include it in the listing, the buyer has no right to demand it from you.

“The seller wouldn’t change my address after I bought the item and it went to the wrong place.” It’s against ebay policy to manually change addresses after a purchase–it opens the door for all kinds of scams. Buyers can’t demand that you do something that is specifically against ebay policy.

If the buyer left a negative feedback that is clearly undeserved, call ebay customer service. Here’s the number:

1-866-540-3229

Politely explain why the feedback was undeserved and ask to have it removed. Again: don’t get emotional or make any comments about the buyer, just state the facts. The reps can look through your listing and your messages to verify what you say. If you’re right, the rep can probably have it removed. Your feedback score will go back to normal and the negative comments will disappear.

However…

Sometimes we make mistakes. Maybe we were being sloppy. Maybe we made a typo in the listing. Maybe it isn’t exactly our fault but it’s definitely not the buyer’s fault and there isn’t anyone else to blame so here’s what you do.

Click “contact buyer” and type this message– “I’m so sorry. This was my mistake. What can I do to make this right?”

The next step is to wait. There is no reason to give away the farm if the buyer just wants a tomato, know what I mean? Like any savvy negotiator, you allow the other party to go first. They might ask for nothing more than an apology (pretty common buyer demand, actually) or they may want a full refund. Once you make it right, send the buyer a feedback revision request. A satisfied buyer will likely reduce the negative feedback to neutral or even give you a positive for owning up to your mistake.

And now, whether it was your fault or the buyer’s fault, it’s time to cheer up. Every ebay seller gets negative feedback eventually and it just means you’re a regular ‘ole human being. So get your brain back in money making mode and keep listing.

 

These 6 Mistakes Will Kill Your Ebay Fashion Resale Business

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  1. Stocking low value brands. See my previous post on “I NEVER BUY THESE BRANDS TO RESELL.” Even if inventory is priced super low, the wrong brands won’t bring traffic because the market is saturated and the demand is low.
  2. Using crummy photography. Bad lighting, fuzzy pictures, and lack of angles discourages buyers.  Buyers will pass over these listings for others that are displayed better, even if it means paying more.
  3. Skimping on your titles. “Women’s Brown Dress”, “Blue Jeans Size 10”, “High Heel Shoes” are non-descript titles. Always include brand, size, color, gender, and clothing type in your title. The more search terms in your title, the more chances a search engine crawler bot will find your listing and put it in a buyer’s top results.
  4. Pricing based on retail. As soon as an item leaves the bright, well organized showroom of a clothing retail shop, the value goes up in smoke. There is absolutely NO CORRELATION between MSRP its value on the secondary market. So find your item (or a similar one) on ebay sold listings. Find the average price of the last ten listings–making sure to account for size, condition, and current trends–and price it accordingly. Go too high and buyers will skip over your listing. Go too low and search bots will shove your listing to the bottom of the results.
  5. Listing items with no demand. Don’t try to sell sell bikinis in November or wool coats in May. Only list inventory that is in very good to excellent condition–even the most coveted brands are worthless if they aren’t wearable. Choose bigger sizes over smaller sizes since the average women’s dress size in America is 12. Follow some popular blogs and review fashion magazines to find out what’s in and what is so, so out.
  6. Overpaying for inventory. When you’re considering what pieces to buy, always calculate how much you can reasonably expect to make after ebay fees and shipping charges. If it’s less than $10, you aren’t going to make enough to cover your overall business expenses.

Know of any other ways to kill your fashion resale business? Comment below!

I Never Buy These Brands for Resell

 

There are hundreds of brands I absolutely never buy when I’m out thrifting. High quality, name brands that you and I both have in our closets because they are affordable and stylish. But when I see these brands at the thrift store, I pass over them without a second thought. Why?

Market saturation and low demand.

So let’s take an example:

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This is a Target dress, branded FLYING TOMATO, size small, originally priced at $34.99. Let’s say I was out shopping one day and found this at a thrift store for $5, new with the tags still on it. (If you’re skeptical, don’t be. Target regularly sells their overstock to Goodwill, with tags attached).

I do something STUPID and buy it without doing at research on my smartphone. Listing it for $17.99 (50% off a brand new item? what a bargain!), I figure it’s a solid sale. But it just sits. And sits.

Finally, I look it up on the Target website and find out the size small is on clearance for $6.48. I check other ebay listings and find out there’s 20 other sellers with the exact same listing for varying prices. Sold listings show me similar dresses have sold for less than $10 with free shipping. There went my profit–out the virtual window with ebay fees and shipping costs.

The brands I list here are carried by Walmart, Belk, JCPenney, Kohls, Target, and similar stores. There are over 7,300 of these stores across America carrying millions of dresses, tops, pants, suits and skirts. Most of these stores also have sales and reward programs– like Kohls cash or a Target Cartwheel App–which cut prices even more. Savvy buyers can find these brands in store for less than it costs me to list and ship it.

So what was that thing we learned in highschool Economics class? Oh yeah, when supply goes up and demand goes down, the price has drop too. With these brands, the supply is way too high and the demand for these items on the secondary market is way too low.

Here’s the exception: plus size. If you find a plus size item in terrific condition that is on trend, EVEN IF it is one of these mass produced brands, you will rise above the over-saturated market of size smalls and mediums. The demand for plus sized clothes is high, and supply is low. Therefore, you’ll probably get plenty of traffic and good prices for plus sized clothing. Just make sure you’re not overpaying for your inventory.

A Starter List of What Brands NOT to Buy:

alfred dunner
alyx
ambrielle
a.n.a
belle+sky
bisoubisou
blacklabelbyevanpicone
gloriavanderbilt
iheartronson
ijeansbybuffalo
lee
lizclaiborne
madeforlife
nicolebynicole miller
stylus
worthington
xersion
Target
walmart
CharlotteRusse
Forever21
Rue21
Maurices
Aeropostal
OldNavy
Gap
George
FadedGlory
WhiteStag
FruitoftheLoom
Dressbarn
Sonoma
LizLange
Motherhood
DuoMaternity
Byer
Axcess
Mossimo
Xhiliration
Merona

ps–Yeah yeah, I have some of these brands listed in my store. I got them for free from my mom/sister/random stranger. I’ll make very little money and probably end up cursing and swearing about what a waste of time it was to list them since they’re not making money.

 

Hot Resale: Vintage Wedding Dresses

What better way to have “something old” than to wear a gorgeous vintage wedding gown?I love finding vintage wedding dresses at thrift stores because retro themed weddings are very popular right now. Featured about is a dress I sold recently:

Purchased: $20 +tax

Sold: $59.99 + $7.99 shipping

This was a bit more than I wanted to pay for the dress, but the profit was over $20 so I went for it. In my title, I used “vintage” “steampunk” and “short” because those are popular search terms for wedding gowns right now.

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I marketed this gown towards 1950s style wedding themes using terms like “1950s” “short” “retro” and “full skirt”. I think this dress would have gotten a little more had it been a larger size (I think it fit a modern size 6).

Purchased: $5 + tax

Sold: $39.99 + $5.99 shipping. 

And here’s another!

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Purchased: $4 + tax

Sold: $39.99 + $6.99 shipping

Here’s what I look for in wedding gowns:

  • Excellent condition with no defects (or easily fixed problems, like minor stains or mendable tears)
  • Interesting details like high necks, long sheer sleeves, trains,  full skirt silhouettes, short dresses, or beautiful beading and lace.
  • Well known designers, of course. If you actually find a vintage Dior dress, grab it immediately!
  • Larger sizes. Without a doubt, it’s easier to sell a size 14 than a size 2.
  • Reasonable prices. A wedding dress takes time to properly display and special care to ship, so make sure your profit margin is decent. Find a good deal that will be worth the effort.

Happy thrifting!