The question I get asked all the time is “how can I find things on eBay/in charity shops like you do?” The answer is that it’s no special skill, and you can certainly do it as well as I do, and probably better if you are willing to put the time in (which I promise you’ll enjoy anyway!).
So, here are my top tips for eBay shopping and charity shopping. Please send me photos of whatever you buy as I’d love to feature you on my blog!
- Use as few words as possible in your search. Where possible use instead of searching for size 8 put “-10 -12 -14 -16 -18 -20″. If you have the patience an ideal search would be “black skirt -10 12 -14 -16 -18 -20″
- Buy only what you love – if you’re on the fence then move on, I’ve got loads of things that I was unsure about and then never ended up wearing. There’s plenty of bargains out there, so if you don’t love it then don’t buy it.
- Set yourself a strict budget – I personally NEVER go over £5 including postage. If you have the patience you will get the item you want for this price – I am living proof! Don’t let your competitive side take over.
- To avoid temptation of bidding too high and also to increase your chances of winning filter the items by ‘ending soonest’ and then filter by price, e.g. set the limits as £0.01-£5.01
- Read the listings really really carefully – keep an eye out for “like topshop” as opposed to “topshop” and be cautious of large corporate sellers or abroad sellers – I favour British seller who are clearly amateur as items tend to be more reliable.
- Bid with confidence – I’ve only ever had a couple of items not arrive!
- Don’t forget to take the postage into account
- If you are prone to getting competitive you can use maximum bids to avoid this. If the current price is at 0.99 and you bid £5 eBay will automatically bid 1.04, 1.20. 1.35 etc for you as other people bid until £5. This means you can potentially only end up paying £1.04 but you can place your max bid and the not look at the listing again until you win (or not).
- Filter using the tick boxes on the left. For example in shoes select “heels, mules, sandals” but make sure you also select “not specified” as this will include sellers who have not specified a category and therefore other people won’t find this one!
- Enjoy it – shopping like this is supposed to be fun and exciting not frustrating or competitive. Just have fun!
- Feel good about what you’re doing – you are giving money to charity, having fun challenging yourself, and getting yourself looking super glam!!
- Donate first. Bring your good quality clothes, books and gifts and give them to the first shop you go to – this gets your charity karma in a good place ready for the fairies to smile on you! Also – if you have things that you don’t feel worthy of donating for sale (bedding, towels, ripped items, even underwear(!)) then tie it up in a bag marked ‘RAGS’ and the shop can sell it to corpoartes for about 20p an item for recycling. So of course make sure you are giving shops top quality items to sell, but don’t be afraid of giving old stuff too – just make sure it’s marked so no unfortuante volunteer has to sort through your pants….
- Try and have a few things in mind you’re looking for to keep you focused, but don’t be afraid of trying on random things – maybe even let a friend choose for you!
- Don’t be restricted to your own size – I often buy tops too big and tuck them in or skirts too big and sew along the seam. My clothes range from size 6-16 and that’s half the fun! Plus the sizing has changed so much over the years that I’ve bought vintage size 12 items that I can barely get round my waist!
- Don’t forget the men’s wear section for baggy shirts, braces and blazers – work the androgyny!
- Try to find an area with a dense collection of shops – I personally favour Ashley Road, Poole. If you are feeling lazy the posh areas will have nicer items but charge a premium, if you can face if go for the grimier ones where the bargain gems are but take more effort.
- Never buy a book first hand – you can get most things in a charity shop for £1 if you look around – you don’t have to wait long for them to make their way from Waterstones to Oxfam! I will also be reviewing books on this blog so keep an eye out.
- Don’t feel you have to look at every item, be drawn at random to colours and fabrics on a rack – it should be fun and like a treasure hunt!
- Check out the belts – you can get high quality and fashionable belts for a few pounds instead of the £15 TopShop charges! Handbags and hats are a goldmine too – especially if you are going travelling or to a festival and want a reliable handbag that you might not bring home this is the place to be!
- Dress for success: Many thrift stores don’t even have dressing rooms so it helps to wear something form fitted like leggings and a tank top so you can try clothes on over your clothes if you need to.