Your Guide to Shopping On eBay: How to Score Amazing Designer Steals

How to navigate the shopping mall of the world—and uncover some designer gems while you're there.


Your designer and vintage heaven awaits.

I’ve shopped pretty much everywhere: fledgling Etsy stores, garage sales, weird little no-name boutiques, flea markets, consignment shops, the side of the road. Yet I’ve managed to resist the siren call of eBay, mostly because I’m terrified of it. It seems like a black hole, and venturing into it would likely lead to one of two things: 1. Accidentally bidding an ungodly amount of money for something dumb, like a fake Birkin or a side table made out of a rotting tree root, and then winning. or 2. Becoming addicted and slowly turning into a hoarder of porcelain dolls or turn-of-the-century retainers.

But here’s the thing: There are actually extraordinary buys to be found on eBay: Céline bags, vintage Chanel, Miu Miu heels, archival pieces from designers’ past collections. You just need to know how to find it all, and then, how and when to actually pull the plug.

The Coveteur recently posted a how-to guide for navigating the tricky world of eBay. I’ve boiled it down to the best tips:

  • Always check the seller’s past transaction history and feedback. If they haven’t sold anything, don’t buy.
  • Just starting out? Start small. (Hint: Don’t buy a car right off the bat.)
  • Save your searches; eBay will send you email alerts when an item you’re looking for pops up.
  • Ask about shipping costs if they aren’t listed, so you’re not surprised.
  • Download the app! Then alerts go right to your phone so you don’t ever miss out.
  • In a bidding war? Sign up for a bidding service like Auction Sniper, which automatically bids for you seconds before an auction closes. Brilliant!

And, finally, from a colleague: “Don’t bid on sneakers while drunk.”

Have any other great eBay tips? Leave ’em in the comments, and happy bidding.