How to Win at eBay

8 Tips to Scoring the Fill-in-the-Blank of your dreams

I accidentally bought a watch on eBay last week. It’s a cool watch and all, but the immediate pop-up message informing me of my winnings was a bit of a surprise. I had only heard of the marble-faced Tissot Rock Watch one day prior when a friend’s wrist caught my eye. I had to have it, so off I went: eBay.

The eBay hunt can be daunting to an amateur. You need to have your wits about you and keep your eyes on the prize. I lost a bidding war on my dream watch in the last 10 seconds of the first listing. My competitive side was unleashed, however, and when I finally snagged my time keeper I created a set of future eBay rules to live by:

1) Don’t let your emotions get the better of you

The “Best Offer” button seems like a good idea — this is where you name your price. But make sure you can actually afford the price you’re offering, or that you really want the item. It’s easy to get blinded by the label.

2) Do be prepared to “Buy It Now”

Every once in a while, some sucker will put up a Jil Sander seafoam green leather coat for $26. This is when emotion should take over. Close your eyes and click “Buy It Now” like it’s the difference between life or death.

However, it’s smart to set a limit beforehand. I have an under-$30 rule for instances exactly like this.

3) Be specific

It seems obvious, but include brand names in your search. Because I’m on a continual hunt for Prada and Jil Sander (that previously-mentioned $26 coat was not folklore, my friends), I make sure to tell eBay exactly what I’m looking for. It’s like dating!

Pay attention to the recommendations eBay gives you based on your brand-related searches, too. They’re fairly accurate and could lead to your newest purse acquisition.

4) Play detective

Pretend this is like an episode of Catfish: if there aren’t a lot of pictures, assume it’s for a (bad) reason. If an item seems too good to be true (a $50 pair of “Brand New” Céline shoes, for example) ask for more photos and information.

However, remember that some of the best vintage will have light stains. Try to accept minor flaws — everyone has a past, right?

5) Face the realities of pricing

If the listing is super low and there’s still a few days left, remember that the price will likely rise. I always forget that the starting price is just that: a start. Avoid sticker-shock and heartbreak by preparing yourself to spend more than the first listing.

6) Be obsessive and aggressive

Get the eBay phone app and turn on notifications. Track searches so that each time there’s a new listing for, say, Alexa Chung x AG Jeans, you’ll get a little ping from eBay.

Check in for new listings every day. It takes a few seconds, but you never know when the perfect price will pop up.

7) Know your market

If it’s not on eBay, it might be on Etsy. There’s a greater chance of finding newer-used items (like jeans and purses) on eBay, while Etsy tends to be better for handmade goods and true vintage.

8) Most importantly, know your measurements!

Get a measuring tape and a good friend. Have her measure your waist, hips, thighs, chest, and legs.

Now tell me, am I missing any crucial rules you fellow eBay-ers live by? And what have you guys recently scored?

If reading this made you hungry, allow me to point you in the direction of cool desk snacks. If reading this made you want to shop but you don’t know what for, let SZA’s style inspire your hunt.

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