Many people are surprised to learn that I not only use eBay for selling some of my old items, but I also buy some of my higher end items there as well.
Here's a great example: You walk into Saks Fifth Avenue and fall in love with a M Missoni cocktail dress. It's gorgeous, unique, and everything you are looking for in a statement piece for your friend's summer wedding. You try it on, and it fits like a glove...and then you look at the price tag - $650. Say what? With a few months until your friend's wedding you scour the Saks website and store praying for a sale...of epic proportions. However, the next time you head to the store your dress is gone and with only a week to go you are freaking out about what you will wear to your friend's wedding. Relax. With a little planning and your best car salesman attitude I can get you that dress, probably in brand new condition, for a fraction of the price.
Since college I have been super savvy when it comes to purchasing items that I know I won't get much use out of - high end cocktail dresses, fancy heels, and even jewelry. I always want to look unique and put together at certain events...and my worst fear is being the girl at prom whose dress is also on several other girls. So, a few years ago when I was prepping for a college formal I went to Nordstrom and bought the prettiest dress I could find...that was way outside my budget. While I looked amazing the night of, I never wore that dress again and I realized that I had gotten caught up in the drama of the dress rather than thinking about the worth of the dress.
At that point I was still an eBay novice, but I started to think that if I sold a lot of my items on eBay that other people probably did as well. The next time I had a special event coming up I did my research. I went to some of the high end retailers I loved and tried on loads of dresses. I examined them all closely and using my notepad (every girl who doesn't use a smartphone should carry one!) and copied the designer, style of the dress, the price, and the size that fit me best. Satisfied that I had done enough digging, I went to eBay and started searching for the dresses. Low and behold, there were tons of dresses there - some the same style but different prints or colors and a variety of sizes.
Here's where the wheeling and dealing comes in - a lot of eBay sellers sell full time. It's there job, and they can't buy more inventory until they sell their others. Whether they work for the brand, live close to an outlet mall, or just have a killer discount they get the styles at a fraction of the price and want to turn a profit on ebay. However, if an item has been on sale for awhile they want to get rid of it. This is what I normally do if I have time. I "watch" the item for at least a week. A lot of items are buy it now, and if no one has purchased it in a week there's a good chance you can deal with them. In that case, message the buyer and offer them a lower price. For example, if a dress is $150, offer $115. that gives you both room to negotiate and get a great deal. Usually buyers will offer the dress at 50% off, give or take, so $115 would be over 60% off the retail price! In some auctions there is a best offer button available where you can negotiate, and others are like live auctions where you can have a bidding war with other buyers. Be careful not to get caught up in the adrenaline rush of bidding back and forth. Rather than pushing the price up days before auction end, wait until the last few hours if you have time. More than likely other bidders will have forgotten about the item.
Honestly, this works! And the best part? If you hate it or wear it once, you can turn around and sell it on eBay as well - sometimes even making a profit! It's an awesome way to look fabulous without feeling guilty. I've purchased sunglasses, handbags, shoes, dresses - you name it!
Now, there is one warning. If a deal seems too good to be true, proceed with caution. While eBay has gotten much better about keeping fraudulent people off the site, many people will sell counterfeit items. So, if a Louis Vuitton bag is $50, don't expect it to be authentic. Check the sellers feedback to see if other sellers have been pleased. Anyone with a feedback rating under 97% should be avoided. And don't be afraid to ask questions...if you want to see a receipt or ask if authenticity is guaranteed than ask. That's like an insurance policy in case issues arise and you have to open up a case with eBay.
Lastly, many sellers have opened up there outlet stores on eBay - check out Neiman Marcus Last Call, Coach Factory, Under Armour, and other retailers for awesome deals on some of your favorite styles and brands.
There's nothing wrong with getting a good deal and looking great - in fact, I think I love my items better when I know that I paid less than the person next to me!