Virtually Secondhand Part 1 – Buying on Trade Me
Op shopping is not the only way to get a second hand fix. Trade Me is an amazing resource for preloved goodies and if you are clever about it, you can get some darn good deals! I apologise in advance for the long post, but you’ll thank me later!!
There are a few things that factor into how I decide whether to buy on Trade Me or second hand stores.
How hard is it to find the thing you are after? If they are common, you will likely stumble upon it in a shop, otherwise Trade Me will bring the entire countries options to you. An example of this is that I was recently looking for an overlocker/serger. I was keeping an eye out at opshops (after a friends amazing $45 find) but had no luck, so I went on TradeMe. $50 later I have an overlocker!
Which will be cheaper? Scope out what it is you are after and gauge how much it will be on Trade Me … do this by watching auctions and seeing what people are willing to pay/what people charge. If it is more than you think you would want to pay, hold off and keep an eye out at shops. An example of this is that I was recently looking for a mandolin slicer (for homemade potato chips!). Trade Me had loads but they were $10+. I figured that was more than I should pay when I can cut the potatoes myself and it’s just a gadget to make my life easier. So, I looked and none the less, there it was 50 cents at ReStore!
Is it something you want to see before buying? If so, look at opshops and in your area on Trade Me. That way if you do find it on Trade Me, although Trade Me rules state you cannot go look at it before you buy, it will be easier to discuss a return if you are not happy with it. Best to make this clear to the seller before you purchase but people tend to be pretty good.
If it is something new that you are wanting, check Trade Me before heading to the shops. You can often find competitive prices on there as businesses have lower overheads, so don’t have to charge so much to cover their costs. An example is that I recently got a 25 meter roll of ‘hook and loop’ fasteners for $15 instead of $13/meter Velcro at the store. Amazing what you can find when you hunt.
1) Do your research! Look up items to find the retail price and make sure you know exactly what you are after. Set a vague amount that you are willing to spend based on the retail price. Depending on what it is, you can often get a better-quality version second hand for the same price that you would spend on the cheapest version new. Therefore, you might end up spending the same amount but your purchase will last longer, saving you money in the long run.
2) Be patient – if you don’t need the item right away, keep an eye out. Add things to your watch list and see how high they go at auction. Gauge how much you will likely have to spend to get what you want.
3) If you find the thing you are after, set a limit that you are prepared to go to at auction. It can be incredibly tempting to get in a bidding war just to beat the other person. I have found myself paying way beyond what a product was worth just to do this. The last 2 minutes of a Trade Me auction can bring out a different side of even the most placid shopper.
4) Check Trade Me often. By constantly checking saved searches you may be among the first to see an auction or an item that you are after. See below for what to do if this happens!
5) If you find an item with a low starting price and no bids, ask for a buy now to be added. Or you can offer what you are prepared to pay and see if they will add a buy now for that amount.
6) If you like to live dangerously, you can leave it untouched and risk it at auction. I usually gauge this by how sort after the item is, or if I am not prepared to buy it outright and want a good deal (for example $1 auctions).
7) If there is already a buy now but is well beyond what you want to spend, place a bid to make sure no one else can click the buy now.
8) If you have an item you are definitely going to bid on, wait until the last 30 seconds to do so. If other bidders have their notifications set to tell them when they have been outbid, they will be reminded of the auction and make sure they are there at closing time. If you sneak in at the last second, they may be busy doing something else and not see the notifications until it is too late! By not bidding during the week and waiting until crunch time, you are also not giving away to anyone else that you want the item. Be patient and let people believe they might be the only one after it.
9) Following on from above, make sure you have your notifications set to tell you of any changes to your watch list items.
10) Keep an eye out to see if a buy now is added to auctions you are watching. If someone else has done step 5) and asked for a buy now and you see it before them, you can sneak in a grab the item for a price you are willing to pay. (You may upset another Trade Me shopper doing this, so I only do it if I spot an incredible deal… because I would be guttered if it happened to me).
11) If you are intending to buy something and pick it up, make sure you know what area it is! You don’t want to big on something and then not be able to arrange pickup straight away. No one likes an unorganised Trademe’er. Also, if it is on the other side of town you may loose out on a deal by the cost of petrol to pick it up!
12) Following on from this, pay straight away! (unless intending to pay cash on pick up). If you are going to pay cash, make sure you have the correct change. No, I am not going to go riffle through my draws to find you $2 change! If you don’t have the correct change, pay more and tell them to keep the change.
13) If you get a notification that an auction is closing in an hour and you really want to bid, set an alarm for 5 minutes from the closing time. There is nothing worse than getting the notification and getting excited and then remembering again 3 hours later to find the thing you had your heart set on sold for $1!!!
14) I don’t like using autobids for auctions but I know that I am lucky to have the option to watch auctions closing at whatever time of day they are! I have been a mum and working from home so it is far easier for me these days. But I know what it is like working 9-5 in a job that you are not able to look at your phone every two seconds. So, if you do choose to use autobid – set your last bid as an uneven amount. I.e.. Don’t finish on $20, finish on $21. The reason I say this is that as a bidder, I will bid to $20 and think “I bet they set their limit at that”, one more bid and I win it. Whereas if you set it at $21, I might think, “$20 is about my limit”, bit once more and see your still going and give up.
How to make it more sustainable
- ask if sellers can package without plastic (i.e. in a box or brown paper)
- buy local
- buy things that may need some doing up or fixing
As a buyer once said to me - "TradeMe is a wonderful place where good people look out for good people! "
All the best for your shopping adventures!