Open Thread: What Do You Shop For On eBay?

The Best Things to Buy on eBay | CorporetteWe spent the weekend doing some around-the-house stuff, such as finally getting pants to the tailors, taking a huge pile of clothes and shoes to Goodwill, and — oh yes — posting a few things for sale on eBay. While posting a few shoes and dresses, I of course did my research and looked at other similar listings, seeing lots of similar items that I knew were as authentic as mine. It really amazed me what great deals truly can be had on eBay, from tons of designers — if you know what to look for.

So I thought today we’d talk about that — how often do you guys buy stuff on eBay? What are your favorite items to buy on eBay, and what’s the most you’ve ever spent on an item? Any favorite “shops” or sellers? I went through a phase a few years ago where I kept purchasing bras on eBay. I had an unusual size, and my favorite bras (Fantasie, Rigby & Peller, etc.) were all $60-$120 each. I found a great little shop on eBay where the owner apparently lived near the outlet store and would sell the bras (new with tags) for drastically reduced prices — I remember paying closer to $20 or so per bra. I got a TON of great deals on some gorgeous bras. Otherwise, I haven’t bought too much stuff on eBay. (I occasionally stalk Vuitton Epi bags in a rare shade of blue, but I’ve never pulled the trigger — and I swear I’ve seen the same picture used to advertise similar bags for like three years in a row.)




  1. I often shop for stuff for the home – dressers, endtables, fabric for pillows. A friend of mine always finds great handbags on ebay, but like Kat I’m a little too nervous for that.

  2. Most expensive thing I bought on ebay: $2000 for a three-month-old Conn 8D French horn.


    • L from Oz :

      You found a Conn on E-bay? At that price? Wow! (Am also delighted to know I’m not the only horn player round here. I play a Holton – I’m really short and with tiny hands, and found playing a Conn a bit too awkward.)

      I dream of being financially secure enough to buy a new Alexander one day.

      • TBH, I think in retrospect I’d have looked for one without a mechanical thumb key. It does create a wide hand spread and I think it slows me down, and I can’t restring it closer. I do like the wide open sound it can make though (if I practiced more…).

        The lawyer I just started working for has a Paxman sitting in her office. I’m still trying to get up the nerve to ask her if I can touch it.

        • L from Oz :

          A Paxman in her office? Oh my. Does this mean that in your line of work you’ll be able to buy a Paxman one day? (Although I did buy my case – Marcus Bonna and one of the most expensive things I own, apart from my bike and my horn – and a new mouthpiece from Paxman in London. Lots of fun – I didn’t have my horn with me, so they let me try the mouthpiece on a Holton they had lying around.)

          You’ve just pinpointed the problem I have with Conns – my hands are so small, I could barely get to the thumb key, no matter what we did with stringing.

          Do you play in an orchestra? Perhaps we need a thread about how to manage time-consuming hobbies and professional lives!

          • Man, I wish I played in an orchestra now. I played with school orchestra and band through law school, and it was such a stress release! After I started working, I played in my church for a few years, but nothing requiring serious practice. Sadly, I’ve hardly touched my horn in about a year. I have a toddler and a baby on the way, and just can’t find a time to practice. If the kid’s awake, he tries to steal my mouthpiece, and if he’s asleep, well, he’s asleep, so it’s a bad time to make noise.

            I’ve contemplated trying to get into the office an hour earlier each morning to practice there before others arrive (small, laid back office), but right now (at 34 weeks pregnant), I’m pretty RAWR about missing any sleep. Maybe I need to talk boss lawyer into duet jam session lunch breaks…

          • Oh, and lawyer boss was a horn performance major and band director before she went to law school, so the Paxman was all in a day’s work for her! She’s kind of awesome.

      • Another horn player here! I have a second- or third-hand Paxman Studenti and can only dream of ever being able to buy a different model.

        I stopped playing when I was 18 or so but kept the horn, and a couple of years ago I joined a concert band. It’s pretty relaxed and friendly, which gave me the confidence to give it a go.

        As a student there was always pressure to practice and pass exams and prepare for performances and I lost the joy in it. Now I just turn up for weekly rehearsals, and while I would improve MUCH faster if I practiced at home, I am having *fun* playing again.

        (On a side note, I love the confusion caused when one starts talking about strings for French horns)

        • L from Oz :

          Yes, I love to confuse people by talking about restringing my horn! And I agree that playing in groups is great. Practice is a bit tricky for me, because I live in a flat, and there’s a limit to how far I’m willing to annoy my neighbours!

          I stopped for a few years due to illness, and was amazed to discover that I hadn’t forgotten everything when I started again. I fear my really high notes won’t ever come back entirely, but the joy of playing is enough to compensate for the lack of high Bs and Cs.

    • Was it a blue French horn?

  3. I also bought barbri books on ebay.

  4. Anon in Canada :

    Long TJ, right off the bat.

    Well, ladies. I just made the biggest mistake of my life. Not sure if there was a right decision, but I sure made the wrong one.

    To recap the icky friendship/relationship drama: Single friend slept with married friend’s husband, immediately regretted it and cut off all contact with both of them. The husband told my husband about it, drawing us into the situation. My husband and I had been seeing single friend and married couple seperately over the summer… trying to butt out but still retain friendships with both parties.

    The wife in the couple was very close with the single friend, knew about her husband’s feeling for the single friend but not about the s*x or that the feelings were mutual. She’d been confused and upset all summer, wondering why she’d lost her closest friend.

    The single friend told me that the husband had informed her he and his wife had an open relationship. I found out otherwise by asking the wife (“You ever have an open relationship?” “Nope; thought about it but decided against it.”) I hadn’t seen the single friend or the husband since I learned this.

    In the same conversation I learned about the “arrangement” story, single friend told me they hadn’t used condoms. And that she’d had unprotected sex with other guys previously. She asked me not to tell anyone this, including my husband, or she’d end our friendship.

    The ugly, ugly update:
    – Single friend went MIA for two weeks post-”arrangement” story, dealing with other huge life issues involving sick relatives and legal complications.
    – I emailed the husband telling him that I knew about the “arrangement” story and the lack of condoms. I suggested he tell his wife. No reply. Friend still MIA.

    Screw-up #1
    – Without consulting my single friend, I followed up telling the husband I would tell his wife in September, so he should tell her in August if he wanted to go first.
    – When I finally met with the single friend, I told her I learned there was no “arrangement,” that she’d been lied to and manipulated, and that I intended to inform the wife of everything in September so she could get tested and make informed decisions about her marriage.
    – Single friend became extremely angry… not because she’d been lied to, but because I’d betrayed her trust. She felt she’d done the right thing by keeping this information from the wife, and now here I was, making decisions that it wasn’t my place to make, potentially ruining everyone’s lives.
    – The next day she emailed me to say she hadn’t been honest with me about the “arrangement” story. She asked to meet in person to come clean.

    Screw-up #2:
    – I was too angry to meet with her. I thought she would just tell another lie for me to feed to our married friend. I waited several days and then broke off our friendship via email. I asked her not to contact me again… knowing full well she didn’t have many friends left and was in a near-constant state of misery.

    – I told my husband everything.
    – I told the wife the bare facts: Her husband and single friend had unprotected s*x and she should get tested for STDs, and that I’d support any decision she’d make moving forward. (He hadn’t told her yet.)
    – The wife thanked me for telling her… she feels as strongly about STD-risk as I do. She won’t leave her husband, probably. I think they’ll be fine.
    – I contacted single friend’s close friend, asking her to be there for her because I couldn’t. She responded with some choice words for me: “Untrustworthy,” “failed as a friend,” “small-minded,” “self-obsessed,” “don’t pretend you care about her,” “made a bad situation worse.” She told me to stay away from single friend from now on.
    – So there’s definitely someone 100% on single friend’s side. (Also: She was 100% accurate on all counts. I am guilty as charged.)

    I chose one friend over another. I think I chose wrong. I’m certain I caused more harm than good. My own marriage is pretty rocky because of all this, too. The cheating husband wins here. My single friend, my best friend of six years, loses everything… punished way more than she deserves.

    I want a rewind-erase button. I acted no better than anyone else. Worse, actually, because none of my awful decisions were in the heat of the moment. I don’t know how to live with myself. I’ve never made a mistake this huge before.

    That said… I did what I believed was right, choosing my own integrity and a friend’s physical health over another friend’s trust and her mental health. I did the best I could with the information I had at the time. Except cutting my friend off: That was unforgivable.

    Thanks for hearing me out, ladies. Posting this for posterity, not absolution… I know you tell it like it is. Though advice on handling guilt and making amends would be good.

    • Anon in Canada :

      Kat, please delete this thread (currently stuck in moderation).

      Everyone else, I’m sorry for the spam.

    • Canadanon :

      I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself. There were lies going around, and the STD aspect of it (not only from this one encounter, but from possible others) alone is important.

      Did you involve yourself? Yes. Did you do so with malicious intent? Only you can know, but it doesn’t sound like it. Is your single friend acting out due to guilt over her actions? Kinda sounds like it to me – she lied to you about the ‘arrangement’ and had unprotected sex with a man married to her very good friend. I hope that she also goes in for STD testing, as he may have had other unprotected sexual encounters and she could be at risk from *him*. You learned a painful truth about your single friend and the cheating husband. Do you really want to associate with either of them, knowing what you know?

      Why do you feel guilty about this? Who would you be making amends to? If it’s your single friend, write her a letter about how you care for her, and because you do care, you strongly recommend she go into counseling to understand why she is acting this way (unprotected sexual encounters are not safe for her, and having sex with a friend’s husband indicates probable emotional issues). And work with your own husband – via marriage counseling, if need be – to winkle out why this is making your own marriage rocky.

      • lawsuited :

        If you write to your single friend, I’d highly recommend just telling her that you love her, care about her, and want to be in her life again. I wouldn’t try to justify your decision (who cares about being right? You just want to be her friend again.) and I definitely would NOT recommend suggesting she go into counseling “to understand why she is acting this way”. I think that has disapproving overtones and potential to be taken poorly by your single friend who already things you don’t support her.

    • I’m not sure that I 100% agree with every decision that you made, but I at least think that they sound reasonable. However, I do disagree that cutting Single Friend off was unforgivable – it was not. While she may need friends, it also sounds like she is a very, for lack of a better term, screwed up person. She made several enormous mistakes (not just sleeping with a married man (reading between the lines, I do not believe that she ever reasonably believed the “arrangement” story – and, BTW, no condoms in an open marriage situation???), but also sleeping with a friend’s husband and failing to use protection in multiple non-monogamous encounters), and, frankly, putting you in the middle was entirely not fair. She’s lost a few friends, but she’s not lost everything in her life. When you sleep with other people’s husbands, losing friends is a risk that you sign onto. It’s not your job as a friend to make her feel better about her bad choices, particularly when they start affecting you and people you care about. Maybe you two will make up down the line; maybe you won’t, either way, life will go on. Maybe send her a card or a letter in a few weeks or months, but leave her alone while this is still fresh.

      Be there for your married friend – you say that they’ll be fine, but that seems pretty optimistic. She’s in a bad place and she needs you. As for the husband, it’s not about “winners” or “losers.” Shake that way of thinking – either his wife decides to forgive him, or she doesn’t. It’s her choice.

      You don’t really say why things are rocky between you and your husband as it relates to this, but I would advise that if anyone ever tells you to keep something from your husband (other than some sort of surprise), then your answer should be no, sorry, that’s not something that I can do. Promise him no more secrets between the 2 of you, and be there for him, too.

    • Don’t beat yourself up over this. You made the best decisions you could while in a very, very tough spot. You found out your friend’s husband and so-called friend had put her at risk for potentially serious health consequences. You are not the one who did the cheating/sleeping with friend’s husband, and not the one who endangered your friend’s health.

    • Maybe it’s just me, but I think you acted reasonably–even admirably. It’s unfair to you that the single friend even told you about this. It puts you in the position of having information that your married would (presumably) want to know.

    • I really don’t think you should be so hard on yourself. This was a screwed up situation; you did the best you could. No matter what you decided to do, there was no way for this to end well. I hope you can give yourself some time and space to forgive yourself.

    • Anonymous 4 :

      Hang in there. Given the STD risk, I would have told the married friend, too. I think you appropriately gave the others directly involved an opportunity to tell her first, and they didn’t. Regarding losing your friendship with single friend–I’m sure it’s painful. But I think it was legitimate for you to decide to end or take a break from your friendship with her given the serious pain/heartache/drama she brought into your life by bringing you into this situation. In sum, when you look back on this, you’ll probably see that you tried to make the best and most caring decisions you could make at the time (including caring for yourself) and, as someone else pointed out, without malicious intent.

      The only thing that makes me worried for where you’ll come out of this in the long term is your mention that your own marriage is rocky because of it. There might be more details we don’t have about why that is, but I hope your DH will realize you got caught somewhere you didn’t want to be and support you.

    • I agree with you that cutting your friend off was the only thing you did “wrong” here. And it sucks, but it is what it is. You did act better than other people: like other ‘Rettes said, because of the STD angle the wife did have a right to know, and there’s a very good case to be made that if you hadn’t told her it never would’ve come out.

      I’d also submit that a lot of single friend’s reaction to you when she found out you were going to tell the wife could be attributed to her having intense guilt over the situation. That would be one reasonable explanation for her behavior. Maybe you were too hasty in cutting her off, but she put you in the middle of an impossible situation and then lied about it to boot.

    • It is difficult to decide what to do, and we do the best that we can. After enough time, any of us can make a mistake that costs us a best friend, and I don’t know the solution. We can feel guilty for a long time, but if you really feel like you did the best that you could, then you can apologize and move forward with a clear conscience.

  5. I’ve bought some nice bags on eBay. For example, I once spent about $400 on a Louis Vuitton Saumur 60 saddlebag-style messenger bag — a really large bag, great for travel, that retailed for north of $2,000 when it was available new. I bought it from a seller from Japan, where I know that (1) people are crazy for Louis Vuitton products, and (2) people also get rid of stuff once it shows even the tiniest sign of wear. Both of these facts gave me confidence that I’d get an authentic item, and I was happy to get a bag that was already broken in, with the leather aged and darkened.

    I also bought a nice Coach suede hobo bag on eBay, and a vintage Gucci leather backpack. You do have to be careful, though. Although I’m confident that all of the above-named items are genuine, I bought a Coach leather hobo backpack on eBay that I’m convinced is not: it was the same style as a backpack I had bought at a Coach store a few years earlier, but the quality of the leather was poor and the cut was just a little bit off. So “caveat emptor” definitely applies.

    By the way, I have NO patience for the bidding process on eBay. There’s always someone with an auto-program of some kind ready to outbid you at the last second. So I’ve only bought “buy it now” items that I thought were well-priced.

  6. Anon in Canada :

    Oh good lord. I’m so sorry for the spam, everyone. Kat, feel free to delete these multiple posts.

  7. S in Chicago :

    My dog is a rat terrier Italian greyhound mix–so nothing seems to fit his long skinny self. I don’t know what I would do for him without eBay. My husband cranks the A/C, so the poor little guy is always cold during the summer. I now buy him “couture” clothes from a lady that will sew to fit. Now he has lots of thermal t-shirts that fit like a glove (and cover his neck). The cost is a lot cheaper than what I can find at PetCo or PetSmart and I get to choose the fabric to boot.

  8. makeup. I buy a lot of makeip and skin care items on ebay – I find it much cheaper than purchasing in a dept store.

  9. I look a lot more often than I buy, and I usually only get something that I know I won’t feel too terrible if it’s a miss. I’ve been trying to find some good maternity clothes there, but it’s really tough for me to pull the trigger if I can’t see it in person first. I did find 2 pretty decent pairs of jeans, though for under $20. I also found a bridesmaid dress there a few years back, $17 with shipping, which made me pretty darn happy.

    In the non-clothing world, I’ve had really good luck with purchasing books (textbooks and “fun” ones) and electronics, particularly replacement parts. It’s easier when I don’t care too much what the item looks like.

  10. i stalk ebay a lot looking for things, but i rarely buy. the one thing i have found it’s great for is discontinued lines of beauty products – i’ve gotten a few bath&body works items i fell in love with that they stopped carrying, and for cheaper than i would have paid in store.

    i’ve set up alerts for items that i could never afford at full retail, but they’ve never surfaced at a price i’d be willing to pay for whatever condition (i.e. affordable but too used; like new but practically retail). one of these days, though….

  11. I’ve had great luck with Ebay shoe purchases. When I see a pair I like that seem like a good deal, I always check Ebay first to see if I can find an even better price. I’ve gotten a pairs of $100-$200 shoes for $30-$40 multiple times. While I wouldn’t purchase anything with a super-high-end label for fear that it’s a knockoff, I feel pretty safe getting nicer, less popular brands (and have never had any problems with knockoffs/quality issues).

    • MissJackson :

      I’ve had great luck with shoes on Ebay, too.

      I figured out that a particular style of J Crew shoes run a half size small, and J Crew runs “final sales” all the time — meaning that plenty of people get stuck with shoes that don’t fit, and sell them off — brand new in the box — for less than they paid. This only works if you’re 100% sure of your size, though.

      I also use Ebay to pick up those random “the one that got away” items. For example: A bag that I saw in store, fell in love with, but sold out before I went back to grab it — I checked in on Ebay every once in awhile for about 9 months and eventually one showed up.

      And finally — my weight fluctuates an embarrassing amount. So sometimes I have an item that I love but that is either too big or too small for my current weight — I have picked up some “duplicates” of my beloved items (in excellent used condition) for rock bottom prices.

  12. Great thread! I tend to limit my search to new with tags and buy items that I think might have gone on deep discount but I can’t find them on sale elsewhere.

  13. karenpadi :

    I’ve purchased patent law review books, scuba diving equipment, and a replacement cell phone on eBay. I stalk jewelry on eBay too.

    My best experience was with the scuba equipment. I wanted a vintage 2nd stage regulator (thing that goes in your mouth for breathing). The whole thing (1st stage (connects to the tank) and 2nd) had to be rebuilt–held together with marine tape, leaky hoses, corrosion, the works. Overall, though, I got a $1k+ regulator for $300 (with the rebuild). I swear, this thing is a beast–they just don’t make them like this anymore.

  14. I messed up my eBay and paypal accounts years ago, when I was moving to Germany and had bank accounts there and in the USA. I’ve thought about going back and fixing it, but never have, partially because of the bidding bots someone else mentioned and partially because selling anything on eBay seems like a hassle. I use Craig’s list.

  15. Sugar Magnolia :

    I bought most of my maternity clothing on Ebay, used. Frankly, paying $112 for 40 pieces was a steal, even though there were about 10 pieces I couldn’t use (because they were tight in the chest area) Included in the lot were two Gap Maternity dresses that are staples of my work wardrobe and have been worn every single week since my 2nd trimester.

    I have also purchased camping gear, a pair of gold Birkenstock thong style sandals, Cole Haan loafers and a few inexpensive handbags.

    My hubby and I made a Killing selling Missoni for Target stuff on Ebay a couple years ago. I used the profits to pay for all the Missoni stuff I kept.

  16. Anon for this :

    Related TJ: Ladies, I need help with my shopping. I am over spending every month on clothes and shoes. Any hints on how to limit spending? My discipline is sorely lacking lately.

    • * Time-limited shopping ban?

      * Project 333?

      * Tracking every purchase in a spreadsheet so you can see what you’re spending?

      * Stop looking at shopping e-mails and cutting your time spent shopping/browsing both in-person and online (for me, looking more makes me want more)?

      * Making a list of what you actually need/want and only buying something if it’s on that list?

      • Anonymous :

        I have the same prob as anon, I track all my spending in a spreadsheet and Excel, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting and buying all.the.things!

      • Anon for this :

        I’m considering the shopping ban through to January. I just don’t know how to keep myself on track with that:I like your idea of making a list, because that allows me to buy something if I really need it if I’m otherwise on a shopping ban. Hmm…I’ll give that a try..

        I do track everything through Mint, so I have a very clear picture of what I’m spending unfortunately. I have cut out looking at the sale emails, and that has worked really well!

    • I used to have a problem with “eh, it’s not that much” $100-$150 per order online shopping – I’d browse the sales “just to see” and always find a few things that all of a sudden I “needed.” I’ve curbed (but not cured) using the following mental games:

      – visualizing actually handing over a stack of $20s rather than just hitting “submit”
      – calculating what % of my next paycheck the order would be
      – keeping a running tally of Things I Didn’t Buy But Wanted To next to my computer and watching it grow
      – doing the closet reorganize where you group like items together (um, I really don’t need any more white cardigans)
      – doing the closet reorganize where you turn all the hangers backwards and then only switch them when you wear something (do I really need ANOTHER $40 great deal piece of ultimate closet clutter that I wear 3x before deciding I don’t really love it?)

      • Ooh, the calculating cost vs. my next paycheck works for me too. I’ll figure out how many hours I’d have to work to pay for that and then decide, oh, it’s not THAT awesome. It’s kind of my trump card for talking myself out of clicking buy.

      • Anon for this :

        Great suggestions. You ladies are awesome :) I think my list of Things I Didn’t Buy But Wanted To will grow quickly.

    • When I get the bug, I add stuff to my online cart to my heart’s content, then let it sit there for a day or two and tell myself if I still want it after that, I’ll click through.

      Usually I end up forgetting about it or accidentally closing the window. It scratches the shopping itch for me, but doesn’t cost a dime.

      Or if I just really need to anticipate something in the mail, I’ll order household necessities or small items like lipgloss on Amazon. Stupid, I know, but it does work for me.

      • Anon for this :

        Midori, I do the add things and close out, it usually works for me, but its the big ticket things that I OMG FALL IN LOVE WITH (I bought a $300 purse this morning on a whim online) that get me.

        Your advice though on ordering things through Amazon is brilliant though. I *do* like to anticipate things coming in the mail. This would keep me out of Target for “one or two things” and leaving with a shopping cart full too!

        • also anon for this :

          actually…what I do sometimes is buy things online on a whim, impulse, whatever…and then return them (unused!). after holding it in my hands the burning desire usually fades. but that might not work for you of course! it works for me because I don’t have a lot of shopping opportunities where I live, so it’s a sort of substitute to shopping in stores, trying things on, etc.

    • eastbaybanker :

      Unsubscribing from emails works for me! Even if something’s 40% off, it’s still impacting my budget. I just add myself back to listservs when I can shop again.


      • I made a separate email account for shopping emails. I go there when I either decide I want to shop or I’ve already picked something out and I want to see if there are any discount codes. It helps w/reducing the money I spend and the time I waste shopping online when I should be working.

  17. I buy new skis on ebay. Usually a season after they’ve been named to a “best” list and I’ve had a chance to demo them, I will stalk them until they become “last year’s model” and get them for 50-70% off, new.

    I often browse handbags but have not yet been brave enough to buy.

  18. lawsuited :

    I buy a huge variety of NWT items from US stores that won’t ship to Canada, because almost all ebay retailers will!

  19. I’ve bought some jewelry on ebay – just bought a J Crew bubble necklace for under $40. I’ve also bought shoes (Cole Haan) and am thinking about a pair of Ray-Bans. I go for kind of pricey things that I just can’t justify the price of.

  20. I just got a pair of basically new ferragamos for $95. Definitely not fake. Very happy.

    My most insane ebay spree was bridal induced…buying old postage stamps for our wedding invitations. They looked awesome, but I lost several hours of my life to the project.

    I sold a bunch of stuff that belonged to my father in law, including some very high end cognac. Sold three bottles for over $1,000 each and was very happy with the experience (they retail for close to $2,000). Also put up this random leather jacket that he had and the auction went crazy with bidders from France. Turned out to be something a bunch of old dudes cared a lot about (and sold for over $400).

    I love ebay. The custom dog clothing story above is the best!

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