The truth about selling designer clothes, handbags and shoes on eBay

I get so many people that email me because they want to sell on eBay. I actually prefer people who have already tried it and need additional suppliers over those that have just used eBay but have never sold clothing. The reason is that many people tend to have very unrealistic expectations of what it’s like.

They think the clothes can be purchased for ridiculously low prices, you know like a Canali suit for $50. They have visions of eBay sellers rolling in the dough. In fact, the majority of eBay sellers I know (and I know a few powersellers) are extremely hard working people. And they work even harder to find consistent deals and sell, sell, sell to keep the money rolling in. And not everything they sell is a winner. I know some designer handbag sellers that only profit $30-45 dollars a bag. That’s not bad, but it’s not a lot when you consider that the bag cost $250 to begin with.

Many sellers take chances and buy things that don’t sell as well as they hoped they would. Some get hit with the occasional bad or remorseful buy. Over all, they look at it and determine whether it makes sense to continue, where they could improve, what they could change.

I don’t like to perpetuate the perception that eBay is easy money. Nearly anyone will tell you it’s not. But I want to caution the newcomers to be realistic.

As an example, a lot of people want to sell handbags, but handbags aren’t sold as cheaply as clothes because bags are in such high demand that there’s never a need to drop the price. Even those who import still have to pay a pretty penny for their Prada, Gucci and Fendi handbags. And Louis Vuitton? Forget about it: there’s not a chance in you-know-where that you will find it wholesale, off price or anything. As my good friend likes to say “Louis Vuitton will burn their bags before they let them hit the off-price market.”

The most opportunistic market is clothing, because the deals are more frequent and better. Shoes are good, but not as cheap as clothes, and designer handbags are the most expensive of the lot. What you can buy consistently will always cost more than what you can get when you catch a good deal. But the hotter the item, the more in demand it is, the more you can expect to pay for it on the off-price market.

For example, for the past few months, everyone has wanted Seven Jeans (Seven for All Mankind). Well, Seven is so hot that the manufacturers don’t really want it sold in the US. When they do, they sell to select stores like Century 21. The rare time they let it go on the market, guess what? There’s always a huge retailer that can buy all 30,000 pair, leaving few for the small buyer. That’s just reality.

I get a few emails every day from people who only want Prada, Fendi, Gucci and Chanel handbags. Why? Because they’re hot and sell well. Those areas are problematic on eBay because the competition is fierce and eBay is totally flooded with counterfeit handbags, especially Kate Spade and Christian Dior (I have hardly ever seen a real Dior for sale on eBay). And when you want to sell those items, you are “jumping on the bandwagon” so to speak. Your chances of actually being able to tough it out are slim. People do much better as sellers when they find their own niche, something everyone is not selling, and run with that. This way, they can become very knowledgeable about what they do and anticipate trends and changes in the market.

But that’s enough about that, I discuss it in depth in the book.