eBay is really ruining my secondhand shopping experience. This isn’t a new phenomena at all, either. eBay has been threatening the very life of my favorite thrift stores for as long as I can remember, but this time it’s really rubbing me the wrong way.
It started when I was at a garage sale and found an unmarked item I was interested in. Small town garage sales are notorious for great deals so I was optimistic about the price. To my surprise they shot back with a number that I was not expecting. I asked if they would go lower and they replied, “Ha ha, no! They’re going for way more than that on eBay!”
The glaring problem was, I was not shopping on eBay. I was shopping for a mothball scented item in an old musty garage. The item in my hand was not worth that much to me but I complied because they’re hard to come across. (Sidenote: A few weeks later I found one for a nickel at a garage sale. They must not know about eBay!)
So here’s where my problem comes in.
These sellers took their advice from eBay and they’re not the only ones. Thrift stores have also taken notice of online retailers and adjusted their prices accordingly.
But eBay is not a value guide. It’s a community of people trying to sell their stuff. Some experts, some not.[Tweet “eBay is not a value guide. It’s a community of people trying to sell their stuff.”] While I believe it to be a great jumping off place to find a price, I do not believe that we should take it so seriously. Remember that bag of air from a Kanye West concert that (maybe) sold for $60,100? How can you take listings like that so seriously?
It’s also worth noting the condition of your item vs. what you see online. Sure one sold on eBay for an extravagant price but what was the condition? The garage sale item I mentioned earlier has been sitting in a baking soda bath for weeks trying to remove the smell. If you think I feel like a sucker, I do.
Now, I’m an online seller so I know I can be just as bad as anyone mentioned in this post, and I hate it.
I hate myself for seeing a price on eBay and competitively pricing my item on Etsy. In a perfect world, I’d love to sell my items at real life prices and not worry about the internet, but I can’t.
Unfortunately, shopping online is not the same as buying from secondhand stores.
In cyber space, someone has already done all the hard work of sourcing an awesome item, photographing it, taking measurements and tediously typing up descriptions. This is no easy task and you are paying for a service. So for some insight, that’s why shop owners can not offer you thrift store prices. They gotta pay the bills and sky rocketing selling and shipping fees.
This is not to discount the work that goes into running a thrift store but rather to illustrate how they have different purposes.
A thrift store provides a service to a community by accepting donations and in turn selling them to the public in an effort to raise funds for charities & causes.
By increasing prices to deter buyers from reselling on the internet and to compete with online prices, they’re going against their goals and turning off customers from shopping there in the future.
Should thrift stores really be concerned with what happens to their merchandise after it’s been sold?
I’m glad to finally have these thoughts written down and out of my head. It’s been bothering me for quite awhile and I wish so bad I could have defended myself when thrown “ebay prices” at that garage sale all those months ago.
I hope this post gives you something new to think about. I would be thrilled if you shared this with others and help get the word out. Let’s hope more people are aware of this and aren’t taken advantage of by online vs. thrift store pricing.