Ebay is my dream job - I get to shop, make money and shop again. I originally became a powerseller and top rated seller by reselling items I purchased at local thrift stores and resale store. Goodwill Outlet sells clothes for $1 and $2 apiece. Here are just a few tips I learned:
1. Scout out all the thrift stores in your area one afternoon and walk through them, learning how they are set up, which days a half price days, and ask if there are any other special sale days. I like Goodwill, Goodwill Outlet, Village Discount Outlet, and Unique Thrift in the Chicagoland area. Ross "Clothes for Less" is not a resale but a discounted outlet store that I have seen many ebay users resell from. (As they leave the Ross tags on them when I purchase them!) Ross clearance prices are often like Goodwill "better garments" prices. Salvation Army has never been good for me in this area. If there is a half price day, you might want to get there when the doors open as often there may be a line for a good sale and the good stuff is gone quickly.
2. While shopping, especially on a sale day, if you think you might want it, throw it in your shopping cart and go through everything later so you can keep looking before the good items are purchased.
3. Purchase items you are knowledgeable about. I am a plus sized woman and now sell mostly plus sized clothing. I tried selling teen clothing I found at thrift stores but most teens like to go to the mall, and the styles were usually outdated and I ended up giving them away or donating them back to the place I purchased them as I was not familiar with what was "hot" for teens - I do know what middle-aged plus size Midwest ladies like to wear!
4. Pick up each item and examine it. Buttons loose? SMELL it carefully. (this is a big one as customers hate getting musty smelling clothes - I've given more than one refund as I missed the moldy smell and they were very upset.) Holes in pockets? Seams loose? Zipper sticks? I have been so excited about a "great deal" only to get home, try to list it, and find snags, stains, etc. I usually don't recommend selling items that are used with defects as people get upset about the defect, even if it is clearly stated in the listing, as they don't usually read it carefully. If you do have a used item with a defect, I often put in the title: DEFECT: SNAGS (or whatever it is) so they don't miss it in the listing information below. If you wouldn't wear it or give it to your friend, probably its best not to try to sell it. Check collectibles for chips, stains, scratches, marks. Things that are MIB (mint in box) or MWT (mint with tag) sell much better.
5. Not sure if you should purchase it? If you have a smart phone, go to ebay and look up the item you are thinking of buying to see how much it is going for. Then go to "advanced" after the search button, click on "completed listings" and you will see how many times that item has sold in the last two weeks. The figures in GREEN are the items that sold, the figures in RED didn't sell. That will save you purchasing an unreturnable item that is not worth listing on ebay, and will help you find the right price to list your item for.
5. What are good deals? New with tags items, Mint In Box items, up to date electronics, antiques, rare collectibles, vintage garments, nice wool suitcoats, designer jeans (especially if new with tags) or whatever you know will sell. Each seller finds their "niche" and often it changes from year to year. Just because its cheap doesn't mean its a good deal if no one wants it. I bought tons of clothes for $1 each and had to donate them as after 2 years they still hadn't sold on ebay - especially out of date but not vintage clothing or men's waist 66" short shorts like I had! I have found that discount stores like Kmart, Walmart, etc. don't sell well for me on ebay, even if new with tags..
6. When looking at an item, ask yourself, "How much can I make on this?" If its a $5 pair of jeans you can only sell for $9.99 plus shipping, after ebay and paypal fees you may end up with a $2-$3 profit for all your work. If you can't make enough, put it back. I usually try to buy something that will list competitively for 3-5X the cost I paid as I offer returns and that eats into the profits. If you will need to dry clean it, you can charge more and people will be more likely to buy from you. CD One Price Cleaners chain charges just $2.50 per item, so figure that price in if you will be selling suit coats, woolen coats, or others with dust or lint on them.
7. Before you check out from the store, go through everything in your cart again, to be sure you didn't miss any stains, rips, tears, etc. as thrifts stores don't offer refunds. I try to remember to pray and ask God to show me what to buy and what to put back. Even then, expect to mind some defects you missed after checking twice and don't worry about it. I just finished washing stains out of thrift store items I purchased two days ago and I missed seeing the stains in and one gaping hole in the store after 2-3 times looking them over.
6. Once home, put away as soon as possible so those "great deals" don't pile up like the "Hoarders" TV show! If I need to wash something, like clothing or stuffed animals, I do it in cold water and air dry. If you iron sweaters wet from the washer the pilling is less; and jeans look newer if you hang them up to air dry. I put stuffed animals in front of my heat/AC ducts to dry.
7. When listing the item, don't think, "Oh, this is just something from a thrift store" but "Wow, what a unique great deal I'm offering" as they say you are like you think - think you're a first rate ebay shop, and you will be! Take lots of photos, showing seams, loose threads, any snags or anything, and I like to end with another nice photo of the item - start with nice, detail photos, end with nice.
8. Be sure to measure the items carefully and put it in your listing. I learned the hard way after numerous returns or complaints of "wrong size" to compare the measurements with a universal size guide for women/men. If the size 12 you are listing has a 28" waist, it won't fit a modern size 12! I put in my listing and often my title: tag size 12 - fits like size 6 - waist 28". People often don't read the details of the sizing and just look at the size, so if its unusual, state it a few times. Vintage sizing runs very small, so I'll say, "Vintage size 12, fits like size 8, waist 29"
8. Pack the item for shipping like you are a boutique. People love it if you use tissue paper. I use tissue paper and shirt bags I purchase from U-Line. You can use free shipping supplies if you ship priority mail by using the Priority Mail tyvek envelopes as shirt bags and putting them inside a box or priority mail envelope. You don't want to ship something out loose in a box as it may get wet. Include a packing slip like a "real store" - maybe even a business card you got free from Vista Print! See my guide on how to fit any pair of jeans into a flat rate priority mail envelope - my record was a pair of W66" jeans to Canada!
Well I hope that gives you at least a few helpful tips. If you can take a minute to vote thumbs up or thumbs down, that'd be great. My other guides have more tips as well. Happy shopping and selling on ebay!