With the recession that may or may not have existed and may or may not still be here, even the hippest fashionistas have considered looking to “previously loved” handbags to get their fashion fixes. I’ve been purchasing my bags online through sites like eBay and Bonanaza for four years now, and went through the school of hard knocks when it comes to fakes, beat-up bags, and even the infamous switch-and-bait. Here, 5 tips to keep you from having to learn the hard way too.
1. Know what you want
Type “Louis Vuitton” into eBay and you’ll come up with thousands of results, after a page or two it’s easy to get overwhelmed! Look on the websites of designers you love to see exactly what you want before you start your second-hand search. Consider how you like to carry your bag (shoulder? crossbody? clutch?) and how much space you need. Think about the bag you’re currently carrying, what do you love about it? What do you wish was different? Knowing what you’re looking for will help you to find it faster, and make sure you don’t end up disappointed.
2. Read the description, and then read it again!
When you get excited about a purchase, it’s easy to overlook the details. Read the description carefully and make sure you’re alright with any damage, wear, or adjustments that have been made to the bag. Look at all the photos, copy them to your computer and zoom in on the details and ask questions from the seller about anything that isn’t clear.
Even if it looks real, it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion from an expert. Sites like The Purse Forum have enthusiasts of a number of brands who can tell the real from the faux, and there are a few pay sites who will guarantee their results and give you a certificate of authenticity. When your bag arrives, double check it against the pictures you’ve saved from the website (because you did save them, right?) and make sure nothing looks suspicious. If you’re at all unsure, post a new set of authentication pictures that you’ve taken yourself and get a (second) second opinion.
4. Use PayPal
When you purchase on eBay, PayPal guarantees that the item you pay for is the item you’ll get and if it’s not, they’ll pull the money out of the seller’s account and get it back to you (with a few hoops to jump through). Even if you buy from another site, PayPal still offers some protection and keeps your credit card information private.
When your bag arrives, after you’ve made double sure it’s authentic, it’s time to clean it up. Depending on the material, there are many great cleaning options available (that’s another how-to entirely!) but you’ll want to make sure you don’t use anything that can damage that bag. This step isn’t necessary, but it gives a little piece of mind, and makes the bag really yours 🙂
Used bags are a great way to save a lot of money and own bags that you might never be able to afford otherwise (see my latest baby here). If you have any questions from a veteran of the used bag trenches, leave them in the comments and I’ll get back to you asap!