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Mountain Money: Selling Used And Vintage Clothing On eBay

Howdy campers!

One of the better things to sell on eBay is clothing, both used and new. This includes shoes and other accessories such as hats, belts, scarves, etc. Today we’ll talk about used and/or vintage clothing.

Here are some reasons that used/vintage clothing can be such a great item for resale:

It’s easy to find. Old clothes are everywhere. You would be hard-pressed to find a thrift store, flea market, or garage sale that didn’t have some used articles of clothing for sale.

Used clothes are usually pretty easy to price check and this is something you should get in the habit of doing while still in the store. Before you buy something used with the intention of flipping it you should take out your smartphone with the eBay app on it and see what it’s selling for on eBay. Not what it’s LISTED for, but what it’s actually selling for. Just because someone is TRYING to sell their designer shoes for $500 doesn’t mean they’re going to get $500. And if you don’t have a smartphone with the eBay app on it you should get one as soon as you can. They pay for themselves!

Clothing is pretty easy to ship and doesn’t require extensive padding or packaging, unless it’s something like a fancy hat or a wedding dress. Most of the time you can just fold it neatly, wrap it up in some sort of plastic protector to keep it dry, and ship it off.

A lot of thrift stores (not all) have set or fixed prices for their clothing. For example, they may set all of their men’s pants at $5.00 a pair, no matter how nice or torn up they are. This means that if you go in and find a brand new pair of Italian dress pants with $200 tags still on them, they will still only be $5.00. I love these kind of stores! Go there on half-price day, and you’ll do even better!

Some general guidelines for selling clothes:

Rule number one: Make sure the clothes are clean and odor-free! If you have to take them in and have them dry-cleaned, so be it. Just be sure and add that expense to the listing price.

Make sure you describe the item fully in your listing. Include lots of great pictures from all angles, but also list things like the color, brand name, type of item in the listing. Try to put as much of this info in the listing title, as well. Some people take their time and just kind of browse entire categories on eBay, but others do very specific searches for very specific items. This will seem really time-consuming at first, but you’ll get a lot faster at it with time.

Always include the measurements along with close-up pictures that include a ruler or yardstick. There can be a lot of variation between sizes and an “Extra-Large” to one company may be a “Medium” to another. This is true even for shoe sizes. So always include that ruler or yardstick.

Take a picture of the size tag, but also take a couple of extra minutes and do more complete measurements of things like chest, overall length, sleeve length, inseam, waist, etc. The more, the better. If you can measure it, then measure it! Here’s a short guide from eBay on how to do that:


If the item still has the tags on it and it’s in perfect condition, feel free to list it as “New.” If the item is in perfect condition, but the tags are gone, list it as “Like New.” Don’t try to sell something missing the tags as “New.”

Note the fabric content in the listing and take a picture of that tag, as well. Some people have allergies and this might make a big difference.

If you’re going to do an auction listing, set your listing for ten days, beginning on Thursday and running to the next Sunday. Sunday nights are usually the best time for auctions to end and this will give you the longest amount of time for people to see your listing. If you’re going to do a fixed-priced listing, use your own best judgment as to time-frames and starting prices, but try to end it at a time when people are likely to be awake and not at work or school. Feel free to experiment!

Buying clothes that you can’t see and touch in person is kind of a risk for the buyer, so make sure you offer a nice, comfortable return policy. Preferably 30 days or more. Once people learn that you have nice stuff and they can trust you, they’ll come back!

If you’re going to sell vintage clothing (and why wouldn’t you?) make sure you list the time or date that the item comes from. Don’t just say “Vintage” as it means nothing without a date attached. It’s much better to say “Men’s Vintage 1950s Bomber Jacket” or “Women’s Vintage 1970s High Heels.”

People will tell you that certain brand names are “hot sellers” but this list is forever changing. As always, the best source for finding the best items to resell on eBay is eBay itself. Here is a (wildly incomplete!) list of some of the more expensive brand names that have sold recently on eBay. Many of these items sell for thousands of dollars and are very rare and hard to find, but go to eBay and see for yourself. Start making a list of the big names and what they are currently selling for. Keep it with you when you go hunting the garage sales and thrift stores. It only takes one or two good scores per month to make a very nice living in this business.

Women’s Shoes
• Christian Louboutin
• Prada
• Chanel
• Gucci Ofelia
• Dolce & Gabbana
• Nine West
• Manolo Blahnik
• Alaia
• Tom Ford
• Gianvito Rossi
• Louis Vuitton

Men’s Vintage Clothing
• Pearly King
• Ralph Lauren
• Versace
• Agnona
• Jelenk by ASICS
• Bud Ganz Design
• Frank Stollery

Women’s Vintage Clothing
• Christian Dior
• Coopchik Furs
• DuBarry
• Chanel
• Yves Saint Laurent
• Gianni Versace
• Gilbert Adrian
• Jeanette Kastenberg
• Rudi Gernreich

Again, this list is terribly incomplete, but it should get you started.

If you end up selling a lot of clothes on eBay, invest in a mannequin. I’ve seen them for sale on Craigslist for as little as ten dollars. Also consider getting a clothes steamer for getting out any wrinkles.

For me, as a general rule, it takes about an hour of my time to do a single listing on eBay. This includes buying the item, cleaning it if necessary, taking the pictures, writing and listing the item, packaging the item (probably my least favorite part), taking it to the post office, and dealing with e-mails. Hopefully there won’t be any returns. To make this profitable, I like to see about $20 or more net profit on every listing, after fees and expenses. With clothes, this may be asking a lot. One thing you can do is create bulk listings, where you sell more than one item per listing. For example, instead of selling that one Hawaiian shirt for a $10 profit, sell three of them for a $30 profit. This may require a little more patience on your part, but time is money.

OK, that’s all I have for this week.

See you next time!

Bill Clark

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