eBay: the *hardest* resale platform in town

Depop, Poshmark… been there, done that! Time for a challenge

It’s not a secret that I love to thrift. I will make it a point to tell everyone I come across that my “entire fit is thrifted.” In March 2020, when the pandemic hit and thrift stores closed (hold for dramatic pause), I, like everyone else, went online and tried to fill the void in my heart with second-hand clothes.

First was thredUp — I spent the first lockdown scrolling through endless pages of some housewife’s old clothes. Then, like everyone, I turned to Depop. Hot take: I hate Depop. It is, in my opinion, a platform that seems filled with posers and people who overcharge every time a certain item becomes a “hot trend.”

Now that thrift stores are open, shopping online seems like an expensive alternative to my neighbourhood thrift. But the pandemic also exacerbated the amount of people looking for vintage, thifted, unique pieces which will fit their aesthetic. Sometimes, that means thrifting in stores is a little harder, since you can’t “filter” like online, or maybe don’t have five hours to go through all the racks of your local Value Village.

Well I have a solution for you — if you’re brave enough to try! As a commerce platform, eBay has always overwhelmed me. The bidding, making offers, receiving offers, not to mention the expensive shipping costs. However, the advantage with eBay is the abundance of vintage stock, which will often end up cheaper than if you bought it in a consignment store.

So here are my tips for navigating eBay. They may seem standard to some, but I’m going to assume everyone is as intimidated by the outdated website as I was when I first ventured into that dusty corner of the internet.

Know what you want

This isn’t the place to browse for clothes — there needs to be a specific brand or item you are looking for. I recommend looking through Pinterest and finding vintage brands you like, or even looking in your closet to see what brands you gravitate to when thrifting. I asked my mom where she shopped in the ‘90s to help narrow down some options.

You can look through the standard eBay categories for jewelry or home decor, but clothes need to be found manually.

In terms of items, sometimes you can start broad — “vintage womens pants” is a good start. If I find a pair of pants I like, but they are too expensive or not the right size, I add a specific keyword from that description, and add it to my search bar.

In time, you will have 14 tabs open with different searches — in sizing, colour, style, fit, or even decade. After all, there’s no one way to categorize a listing on eBay, so it’s important to adapt with the platform. It’s not an exact science; there’s no one keyword or brand that unlocks all the great treasures.

The watchlist

Unlike other online retailers, eBay adopts a “watchlist” versus the overdone “wishlist.” Here, you can watch items that interest you, but the best part about the tool is that sellers can offer you discounts based on the items in your watchlist. Typically, you’ll get 48 hours to respond to an offer.

For example, I had my eye on a vintage white ‘90s crewneck cute baby lions sweater that was way out of my price range — by which I mean the shipping was way too expensive (which is probably the platform’s only downfall). Out of nowhere, a notification appeared up at the top right corner of my screen — suddenly, the sweater was affordable!

You bet your booty I’ve been wearing it every day since it arrived.

It’s important to check your emails or the notifications on your eBay account to keep track of offers, but this is easy once you get addicted to going down the eBay rabbit hole.

Now you have the tools to navigate the treacherous eBay landscape… let the bidding battles begin!


Feature graphic by James Fay and Catherine Reynolds


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