How to price obscure vintage items on eBay

The rarer, the better

In your quest to turn a profit selling vintage merchandise online, you hit the thrift stores and yard sales and find some really cool stuff at a bargain price. You’re convinced it should sell well on eBay. Then you get home, pile all that cool stuff up while you do some research — and find yourself stymied. Items you thought would be really easy to find information about aren’t so easy to research after all. They’re actually in that class of obsolete items that could go either way, rare treasures you could score big on or duds no one will want. Sound familiar?

Research and pricing are two elements of e-commerce that often discourage eBay sellers from listing items they aren’t quite sure about.

What happens time and time again is the item gets put back in a pile because of indecision and worry about making the wrong move. The problem with this wait-and-see tactic is that the item in question is not making you a single dollar collecting dust!

7 insider pricing tips

Here is my quick formula for pricing those unknown treasures, with a handy video to help you in the process:

  1. Go with what you do know. What is the item made of, what shape is it, who is the artist or maker? Use these details to start your search.
  1. Search keywords on active eBay listings. Do not enter too many specific words; instead, start as general as possible and whittle down the results as you learn more.
  1.  Sort by highest first. Why? If you find a comparable item in the highest priced items, you’ve scored an estimated value.
  1. Check the sold listings. Once you find your item in active listings, be sure to check sold listings to confirm the value.
  1. Celebrate rarity. If you don’t find any results on eBay, GREAT! The more unique or rare your item is, the better. That means you have less competition and get to set the price. Take into consideration similar type item values so you don’t go too crazy.
  1. Consider shipping. Base your pricing on what you paid, what similar items sell for, and how difficult it will be to ship the item — aka “the hassle factor.”
  1. Smile all the way to the bank!

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that your time is money.

The more time you spend on research, the more “money” you’re investing in that item.  It’s best to get that item listed with a good profit margin even if it isn’t the most you could have sold it for. You can always list in the auction format at the price you think it’s worth and see what happens. If something is really valuable, it’s going to go up! If it doesn’t sell, then put it at fixed price with the “best offer” feature so your potential customers have options.

Hangout to learn more

At the end of the day, the goal is to go from worrying about how to price your items to reporting all those profits you’ve now made on your taxes! Need some help with how to do that? Please join me at 11 a.m. (PT) Thursday, March 5, or a special Google+ Hangout with the folks from GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping as we talk about that very thing!

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Image by: Patrick Q via Compfight cc