The following is a guest post from Margaret, who is one of the readers of this blog. Margaret lives in New York City and is a lover of style, fashion and interior design. She describes her personal style as an eclectic mix of menswear classic, vintage feminine, and quirky relaxed creative. When not studying for school, she enjoys lifting heavy things, watching interesting TV shows, anime, ballroom dance shows, and reading.
Having grown up during the period of the internet, I have always been quite comfortable with shopping for items online. One of my very first eBay purchases was actually an antique early 1900s French-made chinoiserie wardrobe that cost me less than the price of an IKEA Pax system and is an item that I greatly treasure today for its function, craftsmanship, and beauty.
I want to begin exploring this topic by first providing some examples of advantages to shopping on eBay and shopping online in general versus shopping in brick and mortar shops. I will also provide a list of disadvantages to shopping on eBay and the ways in which I minimize those disadvantages.
Advantages of Shopping on eBay
- The ability to shop for more unique items that are not available in your local shops, that may not be currently in the shops because of the current fashion trends, or that may be from a period when clothing was better made.
- The ability to shop more environmentally consciously by purchasing items that are secondhand, but are likely more well taken care of and/or of higher quality and/or have hardly been worn (people will make the effort to sell items that they think are of higher quality and/or have greater monetary value).
- The ability to get greater value for your dollar than at the retail stores (in most cases, clothes do not retain their monetary value; once you leave the store with your purchase, the item drops in value; clothes are not wise “investments” if you’re looking from the perspective of a return on money spent).
- The ability to shop in a more controlled environment at your own pace rather than letting the retail environment overwhelm you or bring you into a less conscious and more frenzied shopping state. (Shopping in the brick and mortar stores can be a very stress-inducing experience for some people, especially for people who are easily pressured by salespeople and do not feel comfortable walking away from the store having purchased nothing. You can more easily walk away, so to speak, from an online item that you are considering.)
- The ability to shop at your convenience and to save time and money on transportation, etc.
- The ability to implement a very specific or broad shopping strategy depending on one’s needs. The eBay search tool is a very powerful tool that allows you to narrow or widen your search as much as you like.
Shopping for Clothes on eBay – Minimizing the Disadvantages
Before I discuss the disadvantages of shopping on eBay, I want to address what I find to be the most important factors for successful and conscientious shopping. In my experience, in order to be most successful at shopping on eBay and at shopping in general, you need to really have a clear picture of what your style is, what clothes you really need for your lifestyle, and what types of clothing styles, silhouettes, details, textures, materials, colors, etc. you like and also suit you as an individual. I encourage exploring these things before spending your hard-earned money.
- Inside Out Style Blog is a great reference for any style-related questions that you might have.
- Dottie, a regular commenter on this blog, has also written a guest post series on personal style, color palette, and other considerations for selecting clothes that work for your wardrobe: Part One | Part Two
Disadvantages of Shopping on eBay
- The inability to feel the fabric of the clothing item that you want to purchase (this is particularly important for people who prioritize comfort and want to assess fabric quality).
How to address this:
You really cannot get around not being able to feel the fabric. However, you should be able to determine the fabric content of the garment in question. I would recommend purchasing garments made of fabrics that you have experienced wearing or are willing to do research on the fabric in question. Ask the eBay seller for fabric details if they aren’t posted in the item description. Ask the seller for a clear close-up image of the fabric of the garment if necessary to determine the texture of the garment. This will give you an idea of how the garment will feel.
Here is a resource for finding out more information about fabrics (cotton, linen, silk, wool):
– Colette Fabric Series Round-up
- The inability to make returns (particularly free returns for some clothing items depending on the seller’s return policy).
How to address this:
In my experience, the majority of items on eBay are returnable. There is an option on the left-hand side of the eBay website called the “returns accepted” option. If you check the box, only items that are returnable are shown. Although returnable items are common, you need to double-check that the seller does not have a “restocking fee” for item returns (check the return policy as indicated in the photo above). Restocking fees can be 15% to 20% of the value of the item, which can add up when you add that to the return shipping fee, which you the buyer are responsible for if you wish to return the item that you purchased. In order to reduce the potential monetary losses from returns, you may also choose to view items that have “free shipping” by checked the free shipping option. This way, you will not be paying for the shipping fee, return fee, and any potential restocking fees!
I want to add that eBay sellers generally cannot afford to offer free shipping and returns by marking up their prices like traditional retailers do, as they are trying to resell items that are often at prices substantially lower rather their original retail prices. Most eBay sellers are trying to sell their own clothing that they no longer need or have not really worn. From my own selling experience, I know that eBay and PayPal also take a cut of the profits from transactions. So free shipping and free returns should not be considered the expectation for buying on eBay, where profit margins are lower in general.
One last suggestion on the topic of returns is to set aside a portion of your clothing budget for return fees, potential alteration fees, and such. You need to factor these costs into your decision as to whether an item is worth purchasing or not.
- The inability to try on a garment before purchasing it (is the garment going to even fit or flatter me? Is it comfortable to move around in?)
How to address this:
The inability to try on a garment for fit is a major barrier for many people when it comes to online shopping. However, I have found that by comparing the clothing measurements of clothes that fit you very well to the measurements of potential clothing purchases, the likelihood of purchasing an ill-fitting garment substantially decreases. The items that you are comparing should be similar in type and fabrication. For example, when purchasing a cashmere sweater, you would need to measure another cashmere or merino wool sweater that fits you well in order to get an idea of what will fit you and what items to pass on. These garment measurements would be quite different from the measurements for your favorite silk blouse! If you do not have items that fit well, I suggest trying on items in brick and mortar stores for fit and recording the garment measurements.
This is also why internet shopping tends to be unsuccessful with many returns, especially with companies that just give you size numbers for you to go on instead of garment measurements. With eBay, you have direct access to the seller who has the item of interest and you can ask them for as many measurements as you would like before making a purchasing decision. If the seller will not provide garment measurements or is not willing to communicate with you, move on!
Here is a resource for taking garment measurements:
– eBay Ladies Clothing Measurements Guide
Another tip for success would be to either find a photo of someone wearing the garment in question through Google images (if the item is from a popular brand and is a more recent item, it is likely that there is some kind of photo of this item being worn, especially with the popularity of style blogs today) and/or request a photo from the seller of the item being worn on a person or mannequin.
- The inability to get an accurate judgment as to the color of a garment, scale of the print on a garment, etc. (this is very important, as colors may not be accurately presented on the computer screen and/or the image quality and lighting may not accurately represent the actual item).
How to address this:
As for getting an actual reading as to the color of a garment, I would suggest finding real life images of the item in question, finding if there are photos of the item from other past listings (check the completed listings option for past items recently listed on eBay), or asking the seller for a clearer photo of the item under better lighting. Natural lighting will give you the most accurate color reading in general. I find that the most important aspect of color is to determine whether the item color is cool or warm-toned. Cool colors will not flatter warm skinned people and vice-versa.
Here is a resource for determining whether you have cool or warm coloring:
– Discover Your Colors – Warm or Cool?
Suggestions for eBay Beginners:
- If you are very nervous about shopping on eBay for the first time, I would suggest window shopping at the brick and mortar stores to determine fit and garment suitability and then searching for the item on eBay. Some companies release the same garment patterns year after year in different colors and patterns.
- You can also use eBay as a way to find exact replacements for garments that you already own but need to replace due to items being worn out, damaged, etc.
- I also would suggest starting off by shopping for brands that you are very familiar with. That way, you’ll have an idea as to the quality of the company’s garments and the company’s sizing.
Suggestions for Limiting eBay Shopping and Impulse Buying:
- New items get listed every day on eBay and the number of items for sale can be overwhelming for some. Oftentimes, it pays off to wait for items to appear for sale on eBay. For the most efficient use of your time, I would focus my search to one to two items on my shopping priorities list for 5 to 10 minutes at a time every few days or so. I would organize my search to show the most recent listings first to decrease feelings of pressure to purchase an item immediately. Items that I am considering get put on my eBay “Watch List,” which is similar to a wish list. The watch list allows you to keep track of items without having to search for them again.
- I use the eBay watch list function as a way of eliminating potential purchase options and narrowing my focus. Due to the nature of auctions, eBay makes it relatively easy to implement the “power pause” strategy in which you wait before purchasing an item. Any options that I decide to pass on immediately get deleted from my watch list.
- eBay auctions are also a bit dangerous for emotional shoppers due to the FOMO (fear of missing out) It is important to not go above your own pre-determined price limit for an item and also make sure to include any potential return and alteration fees. You can also use eBay’s automatic bid system which bids for you up to a maximum bid amount. This automated system can help prevent emotional overspending in the frenzy of a bidding war. If you lose an eBay auction, it is not the end of the world. It is likely that eventually that item or another like it will come back for sale on eBay. For more information on automatic bidding, click HERE.
Conclusion and Your Thoughts?
In conclusion, I hope these tips that I have provided will give those of you who would like to shop on eBay more confidence in doing so. It is important to remember that absolutely no shopping strategy is fool-proof. No one is perfect and there are always unforeseen shopping mistakes. We learn from them and move on!
Now it’s your time to chime in with comments and questions. Do you have any questions for Margaret on the information she presented? If so, please feel free to ask them in the comment section. Also welcomed are your thoughts on the eBay shopping experience, as well as any additional suggestions you have for eBay shopping success.
Fantastic post! I could have used this about 11 years ago when I first started buying (and selling) on eBay. You provided so much good info here, Margaret — and thanks for referencing those guest posts I did a few years ago. I’ve done OK with eBay purchases — what has worked best for me has been shoes (for my extremely fussy feet) to replace a beloved pair that finally bit the dust. I’ve done OK with purses, too. I no longer buy size-specific clothing after getting burned a few times on ridiculously high return shipping fees but several of my friends have gotten fab clothing through eBay. Please post a photo of the entire wardrobe you bought — it must be beautiful from what you’ve shown of the detail.
Depending on how large the item is, the return fees can go through relatively reasonable to pretty expensive. I usually use USPS priority mall flat rate shipping for any eBay returns that I need to do. I really only use eBay for items that are worth the risk of paying shipping and return fees. So they have to be items that I really want, the correct color and shape for my body, and see a need for. I’m also meticulous in getting the measurements right.
Great post! I have bought lots of clothing and accessories on eBay over the years. For newbies, I suggest starting with foolproof items such as scarves, jewelry, and handbags. I have bought lots of shoes in brands and sizes I know fit, like my extensive collection of Dansko sandals. I second your suggestion to measure a garment that fits and compare it to the measurements of the garment you want to purchase. I have had lots of luck with sleeveless sheath dresses, skirts (less to have to measure), and cardigan sweaters.
One word of warning, the ease of finding things and the low prices fueled by my shopping addiction led to major closet overload! But over the past three years, I have limited myself to certain colors and shapes I know work on me. And I can vouch too for the truth that if you miss out on something, it will probably appear again. Got several things the second time around.
I rarely buy expensive things so I haven’t bothered returning a mistake here and there. There are some great thrift shops nearby that benefit good causes so I just donate items that don’t work out.
I don’t count shipping as a part of my clothes budget. Because I live in a small town, I have to drive 1 hour to get to a mall. I figured out long ago that shipping is a small price to pay compared to 120 mile round trip.
It is easy to get sucked in by all that you can get on eBay. But I think if you use the suggested strategies, you will enjoy the process and have great, high quality clothes.
Anne, yes I have seen many great clothing items on eBay for quite low prices. That does not mean that they were right for me. We can admire great pieces without feeling the need to buy them. I find it is very easy for me to eliminate things from what I see in the online photos as I know that #1 they would not flatter me, #2 they are the wrong size and color, #3 they don’t work for MY life and/or don’t fit a wardrobe gap for me. I’ll be discussing more about this topic in my next guest post.
I really look forward to your next post, Margaret. Thank you so much for the excellent job you did with this one and for responding to everyone’s comments.
I like what you wrote about admiring great pieces without feeling the need to buy them. A while back, Jill Chivers wrote a post about the “art gallery” method of shopping. It had a strong impact on me. I’m sharing the link here in case anyone else wants to read it:
This is good info. I personally don’t shop much on eBay or consignment stores, although I will check if I am looking for something as a specific replacement item. Kind of like I don’t want to find another potato chip flavor I may like, I don’t want to start shopping another avenue that doesn’t compel me now. However, I appreciate there are some high quality items at reasonable values. I consider myself a high returner, which is another deterrent to me shopping this way.
Angela, do you return because of fit and quality issues or because the item doesn’t flatter you?
I am more concerned with flattering me. Sometimes I can’t tell very well until I’m at home trying on with my own stuff. I sometimes notice fussy factors or I compare it to what I have to see if I like it more. I have enough clothes, so ahem maybe I shouldn’t shop, but I get home and want to like it more than what I already have.
I have those same concerns, Angela, and am a pretty high returner, too, for the same reasons. That’s a big reason why I don’t buy things on eBay, although I think that Margaret’s “beginners tips” are really good. I may dip my toe in the water by buying things I have already tried on but missed out on or want to try to get for a lower price. Like you, I also have enough clothes, and I think your guideline of liking new items as much as what you already have is a good one. If I could stick to that and do one in, one out, I would eliminate the “closet creep” that has been happening and be much happier with my wardrobe. More on that in upcoming posts…
Excellent post Margaret. Thank you for the time and effort you put into writing this. I have never shopped on eBay, however, should I ever decide to you have provided a wealth of information on the process.
Thank you Terra.
I totally agree, Terra. I was very impressed with how well-researched and thorough this post was. And we can look forward to part two as well!
Wonderfully detailed and explanatory guide and I’m looking forward to part 2. I do search on eBay a lot, often to eliminate any feeling of scarcity when I am charmed by some new-to-me color or style and notice how many dozens or hundreds similar of them there are.
There is a new trend on there of referring a buyer to the photos taken over being bound by the descriptive words. Still, when there *are* descriptive words added, such as “no stains”, and I have bought something that does have stains that were not photographed , I contact the seller with that information. Since they don’t want negative reviews, they can offer a partial or total refund of purchase price. I’ve never been asked to provide photographic documentation of the problem. I don’t want to pay for returns and that figures in in keeping my online shopping very low. I would only buy regular retail items if returnable at the store and the store is nearby to me and even then I don’t like paying for shipping.
There is also the Make an Offer feature and I’ve used this a few times but sellers seem to want a minor reduction like 10% and will make counteroffers.
I don’t use a sniping program but have tried a strategy of having 2 browser windows open. I’ve decided I don’t want to care that much and strongly prefer the Buy It Now method. Generally, I buy very little on eBay or online at all because even if the item is new or in perfect condition I really experience the deficit of not being able to try it on and see how I feel in it. I try to keep in mind an admonition I once read to not fall in love with a jpeg. My nature is that I lean toward imagining the item as ideal and not much is going to turn out to live up to my fantasies of it.
Vildy, I’ve been able to get 20% to 30% off the buy now price with the Make an Offer option. If the seller only wants a minor reduction of 10% honestly they really shouldn’t include make an offer as an option at all. It is quite annoying for buyers as it suggests that there is room for negotiation. They really should just have a firm price on their item if they’re looking for full ask. I’ve had the experience one time of making an offer on an item (the item will never sell as it is over priced) and the seller not only rejecting my offer (she didn’t even counteroffer), but also increasing the price of the full ask and removing the make an offer option. Goes without saying that I will never do business with this seller ever again. Very very rude seller.
I look at an item pretty objectively. Honestly the photo quality of the photos that sellers take on eBay is pretty below average to bad. I wouldn’t fall in love with one of those pictures lol. It’s really more about me figuring out the design features, colors, and whether it would be a wardrobe asset and worth purchasing or not. I do think that the online retailers stock and catalog photos never quite measure up to the photos of the items in person.
eBay sellers and eBay customer service is pretty good with dealing with issues of the item being falsely represented. I’ve really only had one bad incident of that happening to me and was able to get all my money back.
I’ve been buying on eBay for over 10 years, carefully collecting from my favourite designer, a wardrobe that I couldn’t otherwise afford. Not only am I buying treasured & long lasting items, but clothes made of exceptional fabrics. All of this while living in small cities where high quality is not readily available.
Your article covered almost all of my hard earned lessons. The major one is to spend more time thinking than buying. I organize my wardrobe every season on Polyvore & identify “needs”, not “wants”. I end up with two lists, one for needs – missing pieces, replacements for worn out items etc & perhaps fresh accessories. The second list includes one or two exciting new offerings that I’d love to have, but aren’t essential. I make sure I don’t blow my budget on the second list before I acquire at least two items from the first list. In fact my lists are small & actual purchases few & well spaced.
I visit eBay daily to track prices so I won’t be tempted to buy high & to know which dealers seem to charge more.
Other than planning & restraint (critical if you are buying above your retail affordability), the most important other factor is the seller’s rating. I don’t buy from anyone with less than 98, In fact I now only buy from one of three dealers.
I’m a big fan of eBay & Paypal. If something goes wrong, they will resolve it in short order. I’ve known both buyers & sellers to make mistakes & eBay & Paypal are great mediators.
Finally, I spend time studying new offerings from my favourite designer, Eskandar every season & if I am lucky enough that year to travel to one of his stores, I know exactly what new pieces I will try on. If I am extremely lucky & it works & is on my “needs” list, I might buy one at full price. But it will be my only purchase that trip. More importantly, I will know how things fits when they show up on eBay.
Thanks for your article. I hope this adds to the discussion.
Sharron, I agree the fact that eBay and Paypal are great mediators makes it significantly easier for me to shop online and not worry about losing money if something goes wrong. I also keep track of whether my two favorite brands have old stock on eBay that have long long sold out on their own websites. Both of these brands have a really devoted following so it’s quite easy to find photos of older items and old reviews. Also one of the brands lists garment measurements on their website so that’s also a way of getting an idea of how the garment will fit.
I’ve been on both sides of the eBay fence, as a buyer and a seller. I have never purchased or sold any clothing items on eBay, because I think its too much of a risk unless you maintain a no returns policy. I have kept fashion items to just accessories and jewelry. The reason for this as a seller, I want to minimize returns due to sizing issues. As a buyer, I know what I am looking for in terms of hallmarks, style, and condition to be able to make good choices on accessory items more than clothing.
When it comes to selling items, I factor in how much time it takes me to set up a listing, which includes the photography and writing of the description. My descriptions are quite factual with a romantic twist to encourage a buyer to want the item for its provenance. If I cannot make at least 40.00 on an item, I won’t list it on eBay because its not worth the time investment for me of setting up the listing. I’ll take it to consignment instead with a bunch of other items. If I sell an item on eBay that fetches over 100.00, I usually offer free shipping. On less than 100.00, the buyer pays shipping.
When I am purchasing on ebay, it is irrelevant to me most of the time whether I have to pay shipping or not, because I am almost always bidding on something very specific (usually vintage) that I have been looking for.
Deborah, I maintain a no returns policy always. I list very very detailed photos (including photos of me trying on the garment) and garment measurements. I actually find accessories more difficult to purchase online than I do with clothing. Accessories are significantly easier and cheaper to buy also so I do those in store or custom if I’m looking for an unique piece. I also usually pay the shipping costs (shipping is expensive and the seller shouldn’t lose profits considering how much time it takes to ship something) unless I think the shipping costs are way higher than what the post office charges, which happens sometimes.
Very useful post. I’ve purchased a lot of clothes on eBay and no longer do it unless:
1. It’s a brand and size that I have tried and know absolutely fits me. I know my size in Talbots and that’s probably the only brand I still would consider on eBay, esp. vintage. Too many times, the sizing stated is a bit off. If you’re buying from someone who sells loads of things in different sizes, you’re more likely to miss the mark. If I’m buying from an individual selling personal clothing, I go and see what else they are selling. If I see that they wear my size across recognizable brands and they have exact measurements for the item, I may bite the bullet. Even then, colors may not show on screen how they would in person. I do not wear off-white, only pure white. I cannot tell you how many times I have received a “white” item that is actually ivory. Or a “blue” item that is actually teal.
I always ask for shoulder measurements before buying an item. Often, things that would otherwise fit are too broad in the shoulder for me. If someone is lazy enough to post something without measurements, I don’t bid. Period.
2. Vanity sizing is a big issue (I’m looking at you, Ann Taylor). So there’s stuff ranging from size 0 to size 6 that fits me in that brand and that’s why I avoid Ann Taylor on eBay unless I set aside a good chunk for alterations.
3. I don’t buy bottoms on eBay, only tops, ‘cos those are harder to fit.
I now much prefer thrift and consignment stores. Cheaper, plus you actually get to try things on and FEEL the fabric. Silk can be summer or winter weight, I can’t tell by looking at pics on eBay. And some of the linen stuff on eBay is so flimsy, I’d rather wear cheesecloth. Touching something is important before you buy it.
Nutrivore, I usually try to find the item stock photo, real life photo, or another eBay seller photo of the item in question to confirm the color. I agree I would never purchase white items online. I also always ask for shoulder measurements (shoulder seam to shoulder seam). If you have smaller than average shoulders, I would always factor in shoulder tailoring into that cost and have a fantastic tailor on hand to do alterations. I always need to have the sleeve taken up in my jackets and coats and only trust one person to do it. I know his prices so that’s why I do eBay as it’s the most cost effective way of getting great quality jackets and coats on the cheap.
I always ask for measurements to test on accommodating the seller is. It’s great for me if there’s little information as no one else will be bidding on the item! As long as the seller answers all my questions and provides additional photos if necessary I’m good. I actually bought one of my best fitting pants on eBay. A pair of wool cashmere trousers. I was really surprised!
Vildy made a mention of scarcity in her comment . I’m not sure about what that means although I’ve heard it before. also, how do different methods of shopping help get rid of the problem of a feeling of scarcity? I’m confused.
Babs, I believe what she means is that by viewing the vast quantity of clothes that are sold on eBay and other online retailers, one stops thinking that if they don’t purchase a certain item right away that that item will be gone forever. The scarcity mentality often leads to the purchase of multiples of the same garment at once or over a short period of time due to the belief that one will never encounter something as great as the item ever again. It’s like stocking up in preparation for a food shortage. Obviously, this is not the reality. The world produces far more clothes than can be worn.
And for me, clothing is often an idea. So I can be excited by a new to me item I spot. It seems interesting and desirable. Something clever. However, when I see how many variations of that same item are easily available, I’m ready to move on without purchasing. It’s one reason I don’t find malls attractive places to shop. So often store after store is showing the same palette, the same looks. I’m turned off.
I totally agree with you here, Vildy. It seems like things didn’t used to be some much the same. I think there used to be more variety in the retail landscape than there is today, or maybe I’m just more aware of the lack of diversity now. I want more clever and interesting options, too, which probably means I should shop more in boutiques. But I shy away due to restrictive return policies. I’m still learning to shop more wisely and to trust myself to buy the right things. I still return quite a bit and I like being able to have that option. As far as eBay is concerned, I’m going to stick to brands and items I am reasonably sure of if I venture into that territory. Margaret’s post definitely helps me to feel more confident about going down that avenue.
Like Margaret mentioned, ebay is hardly an appealing site to browse through. But, I’ll often search ebay if I come across something in store that’s out of my price range, or I know I can’t get a better deal on. For instance, I’ll never buy Birkenstock sandals at retail price, because I’ve been able to find them new on ebay for $40 instead of $120 + 15% tax (I know tax is insane in Canada).
I’ll occasionally sell unwanted items on ebay, but it really isn’t worth the effort unless you have a brand name or desirable item that is worth over $100 (discounted). And forget about selling jeans! I’ve never had any success with that.
I find Kijiji is a better option for selling and buying items. It’s owned by ebay, but functions as a free classifieds and there are no fees. It’s pretty easy to use, especially if you download the app, because you can take the pictures and post ads from your phone. You also aren’t expected to include as many product details because you will be meeting the buyer in person. I’ll often meet the buyer/seller in a public place. I prefer Kijiji because you don’t have any fees or shipping hassles, and I’ve just had a better success rate. I’ve sold things like guitars, boots, shoes, guitar pedals, drums, cymbals, cymbal stands, sweaters and I’ve bought things like a brand new vitamix blender $300 off retail price with a 7 year warranty!
When using Kijiji you communicate with potential buyers/sellers through email. There can be a lot of annoying people that waste your time and the occasional scam email, but I found I’ve eventually always had success. Just remember to price your item a little higher than you want to sell, because people expect to negotiate.
Thanks for telling us about Kijiji, C. I had never heard of it before, but I’m intrigued. It sounds kind of like a more upscale version of Craig’s List. I would definitely be open to trying it, but I would for sure meet the other person in a public place. There have been too many horror stories about Craig’s List and I can be kind of paranoid about stuff like that. Good suggestion to set the asking price a bit high to allow for negotiations. This is the type of thing we wouldn’t know without some good insider information.
Good score on the Vitamix! I got mine refurbished through the Vitamix website at a considerable discount, but your price was even lower. My Vitamix is one of the wisest purchases I’ve ever made. I use it almost every day and I love it!
All it took were a couple of bad experiences for me to swear off eBay shopping forever (which I’m totally fine with; to each her own), but I use it to price-check other secondary market retailers all of the time. If something is selling for double its eBay price at an online or in-person consignment shop then I know it’s listed way too high.
This is a very good use for eBay, Sara! I remember I tried to take one of my Brighton bags to a local consignment store and the person there told me it wouldn’t sell for all that much. He told me that they use eBay in order to set their prices, so it is definitely a good place to look if you want to see what a good price is for buying or selling pieces secondhand.