We're (thankfully, luckily, etc.) nearing the end of February, and that means spring is just beyond the horizon. With it will come a lot of reminders about spring cleaning and much urging to Konmari your life, living quarters and wardrobe, and let us be the first to say it: throw some stuff out or give it to charity, you'll feel better. Don't throw your bags out, though--there are too many online resale options for that.
Because the vast majority of people are far more comfortable being customers than sellers, we've put together a little beginner's guide to making back some of the cash you spent on your bags in the first place. Who knows--with an afternoon of closet-cleaning and photo taking, you might have enough in the coffers for a new spring bag of your own.
(Looking for help with reputable places to buy pre-owned bags online? Right this way.)
1. Check eBay's Completed Auctions for Help With Pricing
The best way to determine what a used bag should sell for is to see what other used bags like it have sold for, owner to buyer, in the recent past. By my estimation, the best way to do that is an advanced eBay search; the site does enough volume that there will likely be at least a couple bags similar to yours in its archive of completed sales.
To do that, click the word "Advanced" next to the general search button on eBay's homepage, and then check the box next to "completed listings" in the second selection area.
2. What You Paid for a Bag Doesn't Necessarily Have Any Bearing on Its Resale Price
Once you find out what a fair resale price for your bag is, believe it--the quickest way to frustrate yourself and potential buyers is to have unrealistic expectations on what your bag is worth. If the style feels dated, the bag is worn or the brand doesn't inspire strong resale interest, what you paid for it when it was fresh and new isn't going to inspire secondhand buyers to fork over more money. Try to put aside your nostalgia for the piece and look at it with a shopper's perspective.
If a bag's recent resales are all priced far under what you'd be willing to accept for your bag, it might be best to send it back to your closet and wait for the particular style and brand to come back around. Think of it like pricing a house: even though there may be someone out there willing to pay above the bag's market value, having the bag sit on the market at an inappropriate price will just make all other prospective buyers think you don't know what you're doing or are an unreasonable person to do business with.
3. Know Your Resale Venue Options
Luckily for closet-cleaners everywhere, there are more options to make some cash on your bags than ever before. eBay is the largest and most well-known option, and there's something to be said for fishing in a well-stocked pond, so to speak. Your listing will find the most prospective buyers there, but because the site isn't fashion-only, there are some other options to consider if you think your bag will do better in front of a more focused group.
For example, if you're looking to unload a very expensive piece from Hermès, Chanel or Louis Vuitton, the cultivated client lists of an auction house like Heritage or Christie's will help you hone in on the very specific group of global buyers who are willing to pay top dollar and won't expect a major discount just because the bag is pre-owned. On the other hand, if you have a bag from a brand with a cult following that might do better with a young, fashion-y crowd, a resale site like Vestiaire Collective or an app like Poshly might be your best bet.
4. Consider the Fees Associated with Resale
When thinking about setting prices and your expectations of the process, remember to factor in the fees that the sale service will take from the final sale price of your bag. They can vary from a few percentage points on the bag's price to half your total sale, so read up beforehand so you can maximize your eventual return (or, at the very least, avoid an unpleasant surprise).
5. Photograph your Bag Carefully
I'm always shocked when I see a listing for an expensive bag that includes only small or blurry photos and few detail shots. Or, worse yet, only stock images that are easily recognizable as swiped from an online retailer. I'd never buy a bag represented that way, and neither would tons of resale shoppers. In order to attract the most interest, provide lots of large, well-focused, well-lit photos. Cell phone pictures are fine as long as you have one with a good, clear camera and photograph carefully. For the best results, position the bag near a source of natural light, or even outside--you'll see some veteran sellers who take all their photos in their back yards.
6. Know What Matters for the Brand You're Selling
Every big brand has authenticity signifiers that experienced shoppers look for when buying on the resale market. Those are often a bag's details--the interior tags, stitching, handle attachments, markings on the zipper pulls and hot stamping are all frequently scrutinized in order to assure a bag's authenticity, and you'll likely get a better price for a bag that's depicted in big, clear, detailed photos. After all, it makes sense that buyers are willing to pay more for a bag they're more confident is the real deal.
If you're not sure which details might be the most important for the bag you'd like to sell, you can get an idea by looking through the authentication sections of any of the brand-specific subforums on the PurseForum, or in this Authenticate This section of tPF, for brands that don't have their own dedicated areas.
7. Consider the Pros and Cons of Auctions vs. Flat Price Resale
Both selling formats have their perks. With a flat-price sale (such as an eBay Buy It Now listing or a sale on a secondhand site or app), you're more likely to get the price you have in mind, but it might take a long time before that buyer comes along at that price point. With an auction, as long as your starting price is competitive, your bag is virtually guaranteed to sell, but there's a chance you won't get top dollar or the right buyer won't come along in the auction time frame.
8. Seller Beware
If you're using a platform that has you selling directly to a buyer, it's especially important to be vigilant in your interactions and trust your instincts. If a buyer asks you to move the transaction off the service or wants to use a payment processor you've never heard of, proceed with caution. Buyers worry about this kind of stuff a lot, but it's just as important to be vigilant as a seller.
9. Construct Your Listing's Title Carefully
This is old hat to those of us who make things on the Internet every day, but if you're selling the bag directly to an individual buyer, what you write in your listing helps determine who will be able to find your bag. Not only is it important to include the name of the brand and the design itself, but using a couple descriptive terms will help buyers who aren't as well-versed in handbag jargon. For example, if you're selling a tan Chloé Drew, the words "tan shoulder bag" might be just as important as the word "Drew." Being descriptive and detailed in the listing itself will also help.
10. Just, Like, be Reasonable, Okay?
This is the best advice I can give you for nearly any human interaction: if you want a stranger to act in a way that is beneficial to you, try to anticipate what they would need in order to feel comfortable doing that. Empathize with the people about to give you money! Provide clear photos, answer questions in a timely manner and ship the bag when you say you will. If you do all that, "A++, would buy again" is bound to be in your future.