Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Seller Spotlight: Chivasmomma

This is the fourth installment of my monthly feature called "Seller Spotlight." Once a month, I will introduce you to a reputable eBay seller who lists quality Anthropologie items from past seasons. I wanted to create something that would benefit the community and hopefully turn you on to great deals from honest sellers who are the cream of the crop, as I know eBay can be a little intimidating.

This month's featured seller is Lisa, who sells under the name Chivasmomma on eBay. I first met Lisa when I emailed her for help on my own eBay listings. As a new seller, I looked to Lisa for advice, and she was kind, gracious and willing to take time out to help a newbie eBayer. I've learned a lot from her during the time I've known her, and it is with true pleasure that I profile her in this month's installment of Seller Spotlight.

So, without further ado, here is my Q&A with Lisa.

(Q) How long have you been selling on eBay, and how did you get started?

(A) I had been buying items like concert tickets on eBay for a couple of years when I became unemployed a little over five years ago. I had to outfit my son for Boy Scouts because he had outgrown all of his uniforms. I turned to eBay to get what he needed. As the packages started to come in, it dawned on me that I could probably do this.

The first thing I ever listed was a brand new Chicos outfit someone had given to me as a gift. I did not have the heart to tell them a Chicos size 2 was not an industry size 2 so it had been hanging in my closet for several months. That sale paid the electric bill that month and I was hooked. Even after I found another job I continued selling on eBay part time as a source of extra money for my son's extracurricular expenses. I was working full time in an industry that experienced unprecedented volatility over the years and eBay grew into a much larger part of my income until I finally decided to sell full time over a year ago.

(Q) Can you talk a little about your inventory -- what kinds of items do you sell, and do you focus on any specific type or brand of clothing?

(A) I focus on quality fabulous and funky items. I have always loved clothing and have never wanted to look like everyone else so I bring that to my inventory for others. I began reading fashion magazines from the time I was a young teenager not only for the fashion, but also for my love of photography. I never thought my self-taught knowledge of designer clothing, beautiful textiles and how to combine pieces for your own look would ever benefit me financially.

(Q) How did you find out about Anthropologie, and what do you like about the brand?

(A) I cannot recall exactly when I became aware of Anthropologie. I figure I probably became aware due to my indulgence in my love of clothing. I remember my first Anthropologie item I found in a thrift store. It was an Odille skirt. At the time I did not have the knowledge I do now of all the brands Anthropologie carried. I just knew the skirt was really special. That skirt lead me into researching Anthropolgie deeper. That research hooked me on the store.

I love several things about Anthropologie. They are not shy about their use of color and detail, but manage not to look ridiculous. A bit offbeat but tasteful designs to mix and match with the rest of your wardrobe. I very much admire Anthropologie's ability to appeal to all age groups. There really is something for everyone's taste.

(Q) Are there any pieces from Anthro that you've sold that were your favorites, and what did you like about them?

(A) There are so many. I absolutely adored this long tiered skirt from Fei. It is such a show stopper.

Another that just stopped my heart when I found it was this tiered Odille skirt.

(Q) What advice do you have for buyers who are searching for older Anthro items on eBay?

(A) Many, many sellers on eBay do not have the resources to identify the design name of a particular Anthropologie piece. Try using key search words such as the specific brand (Odille, Fei, etc.). Also be sure to try basic search terms. An example using the pink Fei skirt above would be pink floral, tiered, long skirt, etc. Ebay sellers are trying to give you the terms to find what you are looking for as well as appealing to as large an audience as possible. By using the basic search terms you will actually get more items returned in your search for you to better your chances of finding that ever elusive item you want.

Once you do find your beloved item, be sure to read the entire listing, look carefully at the pictures for any flaws the seller may have missed, and ask any questions you have that are not addressed in the listing prior to purchase. By doing these things you will definitely save yourself a possible headache later.

(Q) If a buyer has a question about a listing, or a problem with a transaction, what steps would you advise them to take?

(A) As far as asking questions go, at the very bottom of every listing is a section titled Questions and Answers about this item. In this section there is a link titled Ask a Question which will enable a buyer to contact the seller. Also, any questions asked previously that the seller chooses to post publicly are located in this section. You may find your answer without having to ask.

If a buyer has an unfortunate transaction the first step is to contact the seller. Be polite. Do not threaten with negative feedback. Just simply state your issue and give the seller time to respond. In my own opinion, 24 hours at a minimum. More on holidays and weekends. There are good sellers and bad sellers. Give your seller an opportunity to prove which one they are. If you find you cannot get satisfaction working things out with your seller eBay has a buyer protection system where you can open a case and let eBay help you resolve your situation. I want to say this. Use that protection system as your last resort. Every case filed against a seller is a derogatory mark against the seller's record and has the potential of hurting their ability to sell. It should never be used if the seller is cooperating. Also, keep in mind that a buyer has up to 45 days to leave feedback. Do not get in a hurry.

(Q) A lot of Anthropologie clothing is vintage-inspired. You also sell a lot of very beautiful vintage clothing on eBay. How did you get into vintage clothing, and what do you think are the important things to remember when buying vintage clothing?

(A) I could go on and on about my love of vintage clothing. I love all the different eras for different reasons. As a thrifting junkie, it was natural I would come across these pieces. By studying them I developed an even deeper appreciation for design and quality. I wear vintage regularly mixed with my contemporary clothing. It helps to set me apart from the fashion formulas the malls dictate.

There are several shopping techniques I have developed over the years that can help avoid disappointment when buying vintage.
  • Some fabrics deteriorate with age and lack of care. Look carefully for signs of rotting fabric, disintegrating shoulder pads and elastic, broken beading, etc. Much of that cannot be repaired.
  • Some odors cannot be removed with cleaning. If in doubt, do not buy it.
  • Underarm stains are near impossible to fix.
  • Unless you have considerable experience removing stains, do not buy it. Dry cleaners do not work miracles. Some fabrics will deteriorate with the use of modern day laundry products.
  • Unless you have a very talented tailor only buy what fits. Many tailors are not familiar with construction techniques of the past. I have seen some tragedies where tailors have tried to apply contemporary techniques to vintage clothing.

I'd like to thank Lisa for sharing her answers with us. Don't forget to check out all of Lisa's listings in her eBay store, which is called The Gutterflower Gypsy; you can find it here. I've also included a permanent link to Chivasmomma's eBay page on the side of my blog so you can check back in with her often. I hope you've liked this feature, and you can look forward to another installment next month!

If you are an eBay seller of Anthropologie items and would like to be featured on Seller Spotlight, please contact me via email at saraefarr(at)