1) How did you get started selling on eBay and what was the first item you listed?
A client/friend who lived out-of-state asked me to recommend a consignment store that specialized in selling luxury designer merchandise. She said she just had a few pieces, but she wanted to get a good price for them, and the only designer lines Ohio consignment stores carry is mostly the Gap or Ann Taylor.
Having already sold several pieces from my personal collection through a store just down the road, I pointed her to their website. I remember thinking how I wished there was a better place to refer her to. Particularly after they had just given me $30 for a pair of $1,000 Oscar de la Renta pants. It was not until later that evening that I absolutely knew my recommendation was not right.
I emailed her the very next morning. As a thank you for all she had done for me, I offered to sell her few pieces on eBay as a favor, explaining she would make substantially more this way. She insisted on reimbursing me, and so the first box was shipped. I was quick to discover that her definition of a “few” items was a rather large box brimming with Chanel with tags attached, Hermes jewelry, Christian Louboutin’s, and more. It was a beautiful, beautiful moment.
The first item I listed as a newborn seller to eBay was a small LCD TV I had won through my company’s Christmas raffle. Only ideal for a kitchen, I knew I would never use it. It didn’t even occur to me to sell it through any other avenue.
3) Where do most of the items you sell come from? Is there a minimum you require as far as cost of item? What about label? What would be off limits?
All of my items come from clients I had back in my Nordstrom and ODLR days, as well as others I have obtained through word of mouth.
We only accept pieces that will sell for a minimum of $50. Anything less (after research, photography/editing, copywriting the auction, shipping/receiving, seller/buyer correspondence, etc.) we would be operating at a loss. It does not matter the piece, we invest the same amount of time and effort into a clutch that sells for $50, or one that sells for $5,000.
All designers that are considered “luxury”, ones you would find on Madison Avenue or Rodeo Drive, are welcome. Even so, some luxury designers do better over others. For example, Chanel consistently sells at a higher resale percentage than, say, Escada. Contemporary designers such as Tory Burch also do very well. Because we specialize in luxury consignment, we do not sell lines from stores such as H&M and Zara. Not to say they do not do well (they do!), they are just not a part of our business model.
4) When it comes to selling shoes or handbags, I'm often discouraged because I fear that, for instance, my coach bag from 1999 is so out of style, no one would purchase it. Or if I have a (once) fabulous Marc by Marc Jacobs satchel that I just no longer use, I couldn't sell it because of some "wear and tear" or stains. What do you tell people trying to sell handbags regarding style or wear and tear. Is it ever worth it to NOT list it or is everything always sellable?
Everything is always sellable (after all the “Meaning of Life” sold back in 2007 for $10.50), but just know the quality of each item you sell will define who you are as a seller. In my personal opinion, if you are going to specialize in luxury designer merchandise, you want to portray yourself and/or your business as having a “high-end” image as well. Sure, the occasional flaw happens, especially on pre-owned pieces. Buyers expect this. Used shoes will have scuffed soles, and perhaps the occasional scratch. If you are unsure, however, just ask yourself “If this were an item I currently love, would I purchase it in this condition?”
Age has no bearing on whether an item will sell, and in fact can work for you depending on the demand for it. On eBay, a buyer’s decision to purchase (beyond emotion and practicality) is based on three key factors: the look, the condition and the seller.
5) Shoes: In my closet I have at least 2 pairs of designer (Dior, Manolo, etc) shoes that I no longer wear. The soles are scraped but, essentially, they're in great condition. Should seller stay away from selling designer shoes that have damage or have obviously been worn. Do you recommend ever taking these shoes to get repaired before listing? What about price: Do you do a major markdown depending on when they’re purchased and how much they’ve been worn? If you purchased Manolos in 2009 and they’re in pretty good condition, do you sell for half price? Talk to me about pricing…
If you can say they are in great condition, then most definitely sell! A pair of shoes sells every six seconds on eBay. The resale value (percentage of the original retail) can greatly increase when it comes to shoes and accessories. Now, if the damage is moderate, this again is a personal call. I would only recommend spending money on a repair if, afterward, the repair is unnoticeable and will truly affect the resale value. Replacing taps worn to where the metal is showing, sure. Personally, I would only do so on shoes that sell for more than $249, namely Christian Louboutins. If you are thinking of marking down an item more than average because of condition, I would take this as a sign that perhaps I should pass on listing them.
Now onto one of my favorite subjects: Pricing.
The golden rule of pricing:
There is no rule!
It is mostly dependent upon your comfort level, research, common sense and intuition. For instance, one consignment company starts 99.9% of their auctions at $20 or less. I am actually all for this, mostly on items that sell for under $2,000. The market decides the value of your item, whether you want it to or not. Of course there are small factors that can change the game here and there, but if a particular handbag, in similar condition, has been selling for $500, then you can count on yours selling for around the same. Just know the lower the starting bid, the more appeal your auction will have. And from seeing it time and time again, once a bid is placed, whatever the amount may be, your auction will garner even more attention. Now your item is in “demand”. A bidder who would never have bid on your shoes at $99.00 is now bidding at $19.99, higher and higher… and now look! They just won them at $130! Buyers get emotional, especially in an auction environment. I am not saying this happens every time, but this way it is a good possibility.
Now, if you and/or your clients are not comfortable with this, or if you are starting out with very low or zero feedback, then basing your starting bid slightly lower than the historical sale price is another way to go. If you cannot find any historical data on similar pieces to yours, I find starting an auction around 15% of the original retail works. The worst that happens is it doesn’t sell the first time around. Now you have a feel for the market from seeing how many watchers you accumulated. Play with the pricing a bit. Even lowering the starting bid by $25 can make a difference.
I could give you several other scenarios, but this is truly something you have to get a feel for yourself.
6) Why should people with designer duds consider going through a consignment store like yours instead of listing themselves?
Listing an item properly can be time consuming, as well as costly. Online consignment stores come fully equipped, from the photography backdrop, proper lighting and mannequin, to the auction template software. Feedback also affects a buyer’s decision to purchase. A seller with higher feedback cultivates trust, which can lead to a higher final sale amount. Many buyers look for and only purchase through established sellers, especially when dealing with an item that may be hundreds or thousands of dollars.
7) What makes SavoirLuxe stand out more than other designer clothing/ re-sale stores on eBay? (Here's where you can talk about customer service)
SavoirLuxe comes from a background in luxury designer fashion. A buyer purchasing a $3,000 handbag for $1,000 from eBay is still paying $1,000. From the time a piece is consigned, to the time it is shipped out to its new owner, it is cared for as if it were at the designer boutique. Most importantly, our clients, both consignor and buyer alike, know to expect the same customer service they would walking into a boutique on Madison Avenue. Beyond just quick communication and follow-through, we attempt to create an above-and-beyond experience for each client.