Beady eyed bird looking for collectables and design stuff
Some of you may remember that I posted a few months ago about a gorgeous G-Plan sideboard which we picked up while perusing Scally Dog in St. Albans, I spoke a little bit about how I love searching eBay for all manner of obscure bits and pieces – I think I could literally spend days online diving deeper and deeper through its depths.
I recently had a letter from the couple who sold me the sideboard, Doug and Brenda – they were really brilliant when we bought it and offered to deliver it to us for no charge because they were going to be passing. Doug even helped my other half haul it up the stairs to our flat, so we were really happy!
Unfortunately the couple had to move out of Scally Dog because of rent increases so have ventured into the mystifying world of eBay selling; trading as dougiebrenda, you can find their eBay shop here.
So I thought I’d post a couple of their items which I really love, along with some tips which help me when I’m scouring eBay. I hope you find them helpful!
1. Be selective and get to know your seller
A good start is to use the eBay feature to add favourite sellers. Once you’ve found some sellers who’s shops you like, just sit back and watch for a while. See what kinds of stock they get, how frequently they get it and what kinds of things; some sellers stick vehemently to their genre, while others will turn up surprising differences every so often.
eBay will also periodically send you email updates about what’s new from these sellers, so you will get a good view of what changes without too much effort.
Once you’ve found a seller – and more importantly – an object that you like, do your research! Search for keywords and try misspellings, search for similar items and other sellers with similar items.
A good example of an easy misspelling is Conran, just like in the above picture.
When you’re researching make sure you’re not about to pay over the odds, and always take postage or delivery costs into consideration. I always forget this when eBaying and end up doubling the cost of items.
A sellers expertise and knowledge means that you’ll usually find their objects listed with “buy it now” prices. That said they do have to make a living and occasionally are able to pick up things cheaply in house clearances, car boot sales or similar that most of us can’t get to because we’re stuck at work all day, picking things up in this way means the seller can make a good profit; so dont be afraid to ask what their best price is – but be polite! If a seller is asking for £100 for an item and you have £5 think twice before emailing and making an offer!
It’s also worth keeping select items in your “Watched items” list in eBay. Dont assume that just because the listing is about to end that the item will definitely sell, lots of users use eBay as a quick way of keeping an online shop and expect to relist an item. This means that stock can sometimes hang around for a long time.
I’ve been watching these Carlton Ware salt and pepper shakers for about 6 months now, they always get relisted
If you’ve had your eye on something and keep coming back to it but it hasn’t sold after a couple of months, then why not ask the seller what they can do for you – they might be keen to get rid of the item in order to get new stock in.
2. How much love do you have to give?
Take this this gorgeous twin pedestal desk, I love the handles and the different types of wood which are used.
Sometimes on eBay you’ll spot an item which would make an absolutely brilliant little project. Take this desk as an example; with a little bit of wax, a little bit of elbow grease and maybe a little varnish, the colours of that wood will really begin to sing. You could even think about a more daring upcycling project like this one, dont you think just one or two of those drawers could benefit from a couple of stripes or geometric patterns? I definitely do.
Alternatively if you dont have much time on your hands a change of handles can really breathe new life into an object, take this cute chest of drawers…
I think it’s dated mostly by the naff old knobs it’s got on there, but you could update with something really lovely and possibly a little whimsical, I’m in love with these bike knobs (you can buy them from RJB Stone here) or alternatively you can search Etsy for some gorgeous vintage Bakelite handles which will give it a completely different feel.
3. Look for quirks
Look for little elements which will make you smile for years to come – hidden drawers, such as this one really make me smile and will save you space too.
I recently purchased a telephone table from one of my favourite sellers Blakeley Browns which has a lovely little quirk just like this – but that’s for another post 😉
4. Ask for help!
If you’re looking for something specific but you cant find it online, but you are able to find something similar which isn’t quite right (too big, too small, too expensive), then let why not contact some of your favourite sellers and let them know?
Updating eBay takes a lot of time and effort; it’s likely that they will rent a shop and may not have all of their stock up online but might have something suitable or know where to get it – it doesn’t hurt to ask!
On this, see if your favourite sellers have Facebook or Twitter accounts. Lots of sellers will regularly post pictures of new stock before they can get it up online. Talk to them, like and share their stuff with your friends, build up a rapport and when you do find something that you want they’re more likely to want to help.
5. If all else fails – search on a tangent
I believe in paying what an object is worth and I like buying from sellers who are knowledgeable about the items themselves. But unfortunately we all work within budgets, and sometimes its just not possible to find something that you love from a seller.
If that’s the case, sometimes searching on a tangent can turn up an amazing buy. I got one of my favourite ever eBay bargains, a vintage Anglepoise lamp, by searching for “bendy lamp” when realised I just couldn’t afford one.
This beauty was being sold by an individual who probably didn’t realise the prominence of the name, so it was £3.50!
Happy eBaying and good luck! I hope you found these tips helpful!