Making Trade Me Work

Turns out that Trade Me is a mysterious mystery to several of you, with its overwhelming hundreds of thousands of preloved clothing items (over 600,000 just in women's).  I have had many successes on Trade Me *gestures expansively* so I thought I’d pop together a wee follow up post on how I work it, Trade Me style.  Click on the links below the images to be taken to their auction.  Plus, scroll to the end for a few seller options that might float your boat and cut out a big chunk of the work for you…

One: Filters

I feel like this is obvious, but you need to filter those results.  I apply the following filters:

  • Two size bands

  • Used (I’m here for pre-loved designer and vintage, so I don’t need new stuff)

  • Buy Now

  • Budget of up to $50 (for example)

This immediately reduces the results to 13,000.  That’s still a lot, obviously, but it’s a start.  Plus, setting a budget means you won’t be tempted by that item that’s slightly more spendy than you intended.

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Two: Know what you want

There’s no point in going on Trade Me and just filtering.  13,000 items will still take you entirely too long to work through.   I’m also going to make a "scientific" assertion and say that the cheaper things are, the more likely we are to impulse buy them.  Coming onto the site with a clear sense of what you’re looking for will shut down the likelihood of you buying a random pair of shoes or a jacket that’s really too big, just because $20 seemed like a bargain.

I use Trade Me to find specific items or specific designers – like it’s an alternative to ASOS and other online retailers.  So, I’d either filter further by colour and item (like: red, dresses) or search by a particular designer.  There is an additional filter for brands on Trade Me, which is immensely useful, but sometimes it's also good to just search "Gorman" in the search bar and then filter down the results. 

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Three: buy something better

I know I bang on about this, but I believe that the point of buying pre-loved things is the ability to power up and buy something that’s better quality, or more interesting than you would otherwise have been able to afford.  I refer you to my beautiful red and black baroque-patterned, silk Trelise Cooper blazer, a steal at $65 (especially compared to its retail price that was ten times as much).  If you normally buy your clothes new at Glassons, surely there’s little point in buying pre-loved Glassons online.  

You might have to be patient, but the deals are there to be had.  Set up a few alerts (the more specific the better) and wait for the computer to do the work for you.  The great thing about Trade Me is the watchlist feature - make sure you use this to collect and compare items, and to make sure you aren't impulse buying things. 

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Four: Always click through to more results

If you find something you like, scroll to the bottom of the page and click through to see the seller’s other listings.  Trade Me is not just where your Mum sells the weird furniture that’s been in the garage for ten years, it’s also a viable market place for businesses.  You might find that the Gorman dress you like is just one of a collection of items, picked by someone with excellent taste. 

 Once you find a seller you like, and who has good reviews, make sure you save them as a favourite so you can skip back to them quickly next time.  This technique basically turns Trade Me into an online store in the same style as ASOS, which makes it about a hundred times easier to use.

Last week I interviewed Dianne Ludwig from Welcome Back, my very favourite seller on Trade Me (and selected 11 faves from her current listings).  Here’s a couple of other sellers I tracked down using the technique above:

  • flip73 - tons of excellent vintage. My pick: I'd buy this dress and wear it all summer long...

  • pinkvintage - mostly contemporary things rather than vintage, good wearable range. My pick: buy this jacket now and hoard it for winter

  • cgj123 - just a normal gal having a clear out of amazing things. My pick: throw in the day job and swan about in this.

  • punkath - comfortable, stylish shoes with $1 reserves. My pick: the highest heels she had. I'm a creature of habit.

  • holigal - lots of colour, pattern and flair. My pick: you know I love a statement earring.

  • dresscents - more expensive (by Trade Me standards) but lots of great items. My pick: this divine jumper is a classic