Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Probably Not Worth It

The other day, I sorted through a massive amount of Laura's outgrown clothing, and separated them into three piles: Donate, Consign, Ebay. Actually there were two ebay piles, one for spring/summer and one for now. I've kept a lot of this stuff around for too long because I thought I could sell some of her outfits and make more money than I would from consignment, but as you may know, selling clothes on ebay is kind of a pain, because it involves a whole lot of washing and neatening and photographing for pretty small amounts of money. She has some of the cutest things, though, and some still with tags or never worn.

Back in the day--even a few years ago--you could do pretty well with better children's clothes in very good condition. Or "excellent used condition (EUC)," in the ebay lingo. I happily dressed Laura in a lot of of gymbo and Hanna, then resold it, and I remember it seems like you could get up to half of what you'd paid for the things new. It was a nice biz. Dressing her was a hobby, and ebay was too. Then I took a long break from reselling anything. Laura stopped wanting to dress in matching outfits. I started a blog. The world moved along.

So lately I've stuck a toe back into ebay and it looks like that market--children's clothing both new and used--has gotten super saturated. Like, lots of auctions ending without bids or with only an opening bid. I think there's just so many people reselling, and retail stores are basically giving things away in the first place. I did manage to sell a bunch of Hanna thick cotton tights--like seven pairs--for thirty-something bucks, so I thought I would list a few more things, but it's not looking too good.

The other day I sold a Gymboree velour jacket and yoga pants set, size 10. It was barely worn, and it sold for $7.49. I remember selling a similar set for $20 a few years ago, but okay. It's better than the zero dollars it was earning sitting in a basket. So I shipped it out last week. Tonight I got this message from the buyer via the little automated ebay messaging system:
Was a little disappointed to find out the pants are a size 12 and not a size 10 to match the coat, but they both look to be in EUC. Hodge Podge sizes are hard to resale :( 
Okay, whoops! I did sometimes buy L different sizes in bottoms and tops because she's always been so tall. I'd looked at the size tag in the jacket and not thought to check the pants. My fault, but I was a little annoyed by this note, though, because there is no question or request about it, it's just a complaint. It is unclear what would make her happy. And yes I know it is in EUC, I said it was. Also, I was surprised she was buying it to resell again and not for a child to wear. But I dunno. And the little frownie face. Please. So I sent back, "Hi, I'm sorry, my daughter must have worn those at the same time and I forgot there was a size discrepancy. Do you want to return?"

Returning something that you paid seven dollars for is a super duper PITA, so I am guessing she will say no, she'll keep it. Which then, am I supposed to apologize some more? Give her a partial refund? I have always shunned the way of the partial refund, and it's never really been an issue before. But that's what I think her message is angling for. She didn't say, "Your listing was wrong, I'm sending it back." She said she was "disappointed," to which I'm supposed to say...? Gah!

I know it is not cool to sell something as one size and have it turn out to be another, but this is my blog and I'm complaining to you anyway. Argle bargle! Details! I think my lifeforce may be too drained by the whole ebay enterprise, and given that the bottom has fallen out of the market, I'm going to take it all to consignment.

Anyway, 99 problems. Any of y'all still doing the ebay thing?


24 comments:

Christian said...

I've never tried hard to sell crap, except that one time I moved from California to Korea. I was stunned to discover just how worthless my stuff was. Like, I had low expectations, but whoa, nothing holds any sort of value when several years of a recession have inspired everyone to sell whatever they can, while stores simultaneously cut prices as much as possible. It was honestly easier to Goodwill it all and not look back.

delaine said...

Yeah, sounds kinda like the bloom is off eBay, doesn't it? A lot of hassle for not much return. Kids' clothes can be so expensive! Donate them and you'll be done with them. I still remember how cute little Laura was in all those Gymboree outfits!

delaine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa Lilienthal said...

I have never ebay'd clothes because of the whole shipping thing (just thinking about that makes me tired) but one thing I think that people do more now is to sell "lots" of a particular size. It's very popular with the teen crowd -- to find a bunch of size whatever jeans and buy the "lot" for one price. Maybe that's worth trying? The other thing I did in ATL was consignment at Sweet Repeats in Buckhead for the nicer stuff. And when they get old enough to wear junior sizes there is Plato's Closet and Buffalo Exchange. Both stores pay you up front for the stuff versus consignment. I just took a bunch of stuff to Plato's (mine and A's) and got $100 in credit, which I promptly cashed in on jeans for A. Seemed like a good deal to me!

Elizabeth said...

You're giving me agita.

Becky said...

Oh dear, I don't want to do that Elizabeth!

Lisa, thanks for the tip on those places. L is just now getting into junior sizes, or she's kind of transitional.

Christian, I'm sure that bracing reality check only made you stronger!

gretchen said...

I have never once ever even thought of selling Jude's clothes on Ebay. Am I missing a huge business opportunity? Probably not, as most of his clothes are just random dude stuff - jeans and tshirts, nothing valuable. Maybe I could sell his old First Communion suit? Hmmm. How much do you get from consignment stores?

Nina said...

Boyfriend just sold a very beautiful and barely worn vintage tweed coat on Ebay, which went for the starting price because there was only one bid. And the buyer didn't give us any feedback at all, which somehow felt very annoying when they'd got such a bargain. On the other hand as an Ebay buyer I feel like it's got more difficult to get really nice stuff as cheap as I used to - but how can it have got worse for both selling and buying?

Marsha said...

I used to do some selling (I did well on my maternity clothes) but was more a buyer, mostly of dresses for my daughter. I stopped when it seemed like I couldn't get anything close to a decent dress for less than 4/5 the retail price. Not worth the hassle for the pennies of savings. I'm with Nina, though - how could both selling and buying have declined? That's interesting!

Becky said...

I don't know, maybe more people in general? I'm sure it's all unevenly distributed. Also, I remember from hanging out in sellers' forums that sellers just always think it's getting worse no matter what.

Julie said...

I don't sell clothes on ebay anymore either unless it's something special like winter Bogs or something like that. I find it's just as easy to bring to goodwill and use it as a tax deduction. Plus, there are deals to be had at Goodwill.
I sell books on Amazon though and had a buyer return a book to me last week for no apparent reason. She got the book and the next day said she was returning because she was no longer interested. Ugh! Lots of hassle for a 7.00 book. I did a partial refund though and did not give her the shipping back. The good news is that I resold it for 10.00.

Keely said...

Selling on ebay in Canada is an extra super-duper PITA, because Canada Post charges so much for shipping and most people just aren't willing to pay it (understandably so). So unless you have something unique or hard to find, it's pointless.

Kate said...

I have been tempted to sell some of sophie's nice stuff like lilly pulitzer or hanna but i figured the PITA factor was too high. I give it away to friends or my SIL for the karma.

My Kids' Mom said...

I think about it. I save the clothes, toys, books, etc. I get piles and piles of "valuable" items. Then, I go on a rampage and want it all OUT NOW and I drive to a donation center and give it all away. Not worth the stress.

Katie said...

I used to sell lots of the kids' gear on ebay but found as they got older, it wasn't worth it. The baby and toddler items seemed to sell for more. These days I just hand them down and hope for hand me down karma in return!

Pam said...

I have tried to sell a few items of clothing on e-bay, but like you said the market is pretty saturated. My daughter (while in high school) had a fondness for Betsey Johnson party dresses for homecoming & prom. They were pretty pricey and you would think you could get some $$ for them, but I wasn't able to sell any. Even the consignment stores were pretty picky, and didn't want them. Maybe I will send one to Laura. :)

Justine said...

When I first moved to our town (suburb of Boston) I was super smugly excited to learn we had a town listserv where parents did lots of buying/selling kid crap. A tiny Craig's List, if you will. WELL, then I went to sell kid #2's crib bedding there, and the people were *shocked* to learn I wasn't actually selling the crib for $20, just the bedding. This after lots of back and forth about when they would come pick it up and whether I'd knock 5 bucks off the price. Ugh. So now I'm on to Plan B, which is the donations truck that comes to your driveway. Don't remember seeing this invention in The South when I was growing up, but it is far superior than dropping off at Goodwill and getting the underpaid, unimpressed employee to help me unload it from my trunk.

Beth said...

I did sell some stuff on Ebay a while ago, but I haven't in a long time, mostly because of the PITA. I even photographed some stuff NWT and never listed it because it's such a hassle, the listing and the checking and the shipping. For kids' clothes, my kids are such a disaster that nothing, even worn once, is in EUC.

Cassi Renee said...

I've always handed Emma's clothes down to her 3-year-younger cousin, but as she gets older, and wears the same size longer, the clothes get pretty worn out. Definitely not EUC! I don't buy a lot of clothes on ebay either --I've ended up with things that were not really as they were described.

My husband tried to sell some stuff (music-related) on ebay a few years ago and it was such a hassle for such a small $ return he gave it up.

Dana said...

Bi annual church-held consignment sales! I used to sell at Dunwoody United Methodist. Now I sell at a consignment sale held in an empty CompUsa store, in the spring and in the fall. I use the money I make to buy my boys' clothes and toys that season. I've been buying other stuff for cheap at thrift stores on Half-off days to turn around and sell, too.

Becky said...

The church consignment sales around here ARE great, I am somehow never on the ball enough to get all my stuff priced and get it in there.

I like hearing your ebay experiences. It's like everybody has sold on there at one point or another.

As I thought she might, my buyer emailed me back that the clothes were really in great condition and she wants to keep them, so I was like, go in peace.

M said...

Early on, we had a nasty go-round with a nutcase seller of a camera we bought for my son when he took photography in hs. It cured us of any and all illusions about eBay.

I fare far better at TJ Maxx and Nordstroms Rack and fully relish the added value of retail therapy these venues provide. We just donate everything that outlives its usefulness and call it a day.

puncturedbicycle said...

My eBay math says that out of all the things you sell, the thing you think should go in the garbage is the thing where the bidding will go bonkers and the thing you know is a fabulous item will be bought for pennies by a crank who will also complain about it. My oddest eBay moment was selling a mouldy raincoat (with extensive photographic and written documentation of mould) for over £40.

Star said...

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