Tips for Selling Vintage Online

by Elizabeth Sellers on 24 September 2013 · 13 comments

Vintage Brownie Camera

Collecting vintage has always been a passion of mine. I have been frequenting charity shops and car boot sales since I was knee-high-to-a-grasshopper. I have spent years wandering, rummaging and sourcing charming, interesting and downright bizarre finds from times gone by. Eventually this hobby of thrifting on a weekly basis led to a rather large collection of Stuff. Oh yes, with a capital S. My house was bursting with vintage finds. And in order to keep my hobby going I needed a system of moving on some of my vintage finds to make room for the newbies. New vintage, if you can call it that!

stack of vintage suitcases

And so, I set up a little online vintage shop called Three Jelly Moulds and a Wardrobe. There I was able to share my passion for vintage and find new homes for some of my vintage collection. I absolutely loved selling vintage online. Things I loved about selling vintage online included; being able to connect with fellow enthusiasts, the thrill of an order to popping up in my inbox, carefully wrapping an item in tissue paper and twine, and know that something beautiful was going to be loved in a new home.

vintage bottles and camera

Eventually I closed my online vintage shop for various reasons but not without learning a shedload of tips. Tips that I am happy to share with my lovely Rosalilium readers.

bunch of vintage bits

10 Tips for Selling Vintage Online

1. Photographs are key!

The photographs of your vintage items are a key deciding factor for a potential customer. You need to make sure you take big, clear photographs that show the item in its full glory. Ideally the item should be photographed with a plain background in at least one of the images on your site.

2. Demonstrate use

Get creative and photograph the item in use. Some items are straightforward, a coat is generally only worn as a coat. But an enamelware coffee pot has a variety of uses, it can be a simple coffee pot or ornament or even a vase. Show these in the photograph to entice the buyer!

3. Be honest in your description

You want to build a good reputation and being honest is definitely the right policy. In your description of the item be sure to note signs of age, wear and damage. Most customers interested in vintage will expect some wear on their purchases. Just don’t let it be a surprise for them!

4. Research pricing on ebay and other vintage sites

A simple google search should bring up any competitor vintage sellers and their similar items. It’s worth pricing your items at a similar rate accounting for damage and wear. After some time of researching pricing you will be able to gauge quickly how to price your items.

5 . Keep the language perky

You don’t need to be a professional copywriter to create eye-catching descriptions. Write your product descriptions with a light, friendly tone. Even some humour won’t go amiss, just keep it cheeky rather than blue!

halina super 8 camera

6. Think SEO for product titles

Make the titles of your product pages as descriptive as possible including colour, era, shape, pattern, manufacturer, material or use. This will help potential customers find you via a search on Google. Keep the title to approximately 70 characters long.

7. Social media is your friend

Share your listings on social media but be mindful of spamming your followers. Spread out the listings over some time. And consider sharing sneak peeks on instagram or facebook.

8. Blog about your vintage stuff

Whether you blog about your thrifting adventures, your vintage style or even your latest product round-ups, many readers will be interested in the behind-the-scenes blog posts.

9 . Practice your fixing skills

Learn how to remove stains from clothes, lift rust from tins or bring up the shine on silver. Fix up your items as best you can to enhance your chance of selling your vintage online.

10. Become a pro at customer service

As with any business your customer service skills are paramount. This includes friendly emails, timely delivery and welcoming feedback. The vintage community are a friendly bunch so get involved and watch as your reputation grows!

Good luck if you are selling vintage online. And do share your shop link in the comments below. It would be great to see what you have in store!

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P.S. I used both Shopify and Bigcartel for selling vintage. Each have their merits but both are recommended. 

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharon Pickles September 24, 2013 at 7:32 am

Thanks for a great post – I’m about to have a go at selling vintage stuff on-line, so this is really helpful. The sewing directory have a code to get 20 free listings on Etsy to get you started, valid until 16th October :)

http://www.thesewingdirectory.co.uk/news/2013/09/22/free-listings-on-etsy/

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Elizabeth Sellers October 9, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Awesome. Thanks for the tip!

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Jess September 24, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Great tips! I love picking up vintage bits in charity shops and at car boots, and half thought about opening a shop with my stash, but between etsy/ebay/paypal fees and postage costs (particularly because many homewares are really heavy!) I couldn’t work out how to make money from it. Did you find you were able to make a profit selling vintage online?

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Elizabeth Sellers October 9, 2013 at 12:03 pm

If you use an alternative postage service like Collect+ that will bring the postage costs down.
I did make a little bit of profit selling vintage.

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Maria September 24, 2013 at 8:37 pm

These are really useful tips, thank you for sharing these :)

Maria xxx

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maria September 24, 2013 at 9:58 pm

I also sell vintage and am in the process of redoing my store, so this is definitely a nice read for me. Love the photos of those cameras!

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Frances September 24, 2013 at 11:16 pm

Excellent tips as ever Elizabeth. I was so sad when you decided to close your store, as you have such a good eye for finding vintage treats.

Earlier this year, I started selling vintage books through Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/LastYearGirlbooks. I started because I was researching out-of-print fashion titles as part of my job and my collection exploded from there. I had to sell some titles before my shelves collapsed under the weight! I’m really enjoying the selling for all the lovely reasons outlined in your post.

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Elizabeth Sellers October 9, 2013 at 12:04 pm

I love it when etsy shops materialise out of simple passions like that!

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Adley September 27, 2013 at 3:30 pm

These are wonderful tips for selling vintage. I usually don’t try to sell breakables but I picked up a few items to experiment. So far none have sold, maybe I need to demonstrate their use and that may entice the buyer to make the purchase.

Pictures are very important. I use a 2 simple white foam boards to make the background plain so the buyer can focus on the item only.

Great post as always!

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Ozell Richardson October 11, 2013 at 6:45 am

Are the vintage stuff yours to keep or are they for sale? I like the suitcases! Anyways, what really matters for potential buyers are the photos, and the way to use the item. I myself admit that I skip those that just shows photos (unless they are utensils and the such) without instructions to use.

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