5 Top Tips for Buying Preloved or Vintage Online

Buying Preloved or Vintage - a black fireplace with gold mirror and wood burner.  In the alcove there is a writing bureau with a vintage floral painting and flower frog filled with dried hydrangeas on top.
The gold mirror, writing bureau, S.Leigh painting and flower frog were all bought through eBay.

Do you find yourself constantly scrolling eBay or Facebook Marketplace looking for your next vintage and preloved find? Or, do you feel that everyone else seems to get the bargains and you’re left wanting?

There is nothing I love more than a mooch round an antique warehouse or vintage store.  Even if I don’t buy anything, it’s fascinating! Unfortunately, over the past few months it’s been tougher than ever to get out to places and even when you’re there, I can’t say that I feel relaxed enough to say that I’m “mooching” and perusing.  I usually just want to get in, walk around quickly and see whether they have what I want, and get out of the building as soon as possible!

Anyway, I digress, because what I really wanted to share are my five top tips for buying preloved and vintage items using the likes of eBay and Facebook Marketplace.  I’m sure these could be applied to other online auctions too.  I’ll share some of my finds along the way too.

Be specific

If you would like a “vintage chesterfield armchair” then that is exactly what you should type in the search bar.

The more specific you are, the easier it will be to find what you’re looking for compared to, in this example, searching for simply “armchair”.

I’ve also learned that a lot of listings will be described as “vintage” when they’re actually “vintage style”, so be sure to check that in the description.

Filter the results

Filtering the results based on price and distance really helps.  There is nothing worse than finding “the one”, and it’s miles away from you or completely out of your budget.

I also filter results on eBay to show ‘auction only’, which saves me having to wade through too many results, that often aren’t actually preloved or vintage.

Buying Preloved or Vintage 2 - A chaise longue in a bay window with cushions.
My latest Facebook Marketplace find is this chaise longue. I kept seeing plenty of beautiful ones but they were too far away or out of my budget, so filtering the search results really helped.

Set up alerts and save your search

Once you have been specific and filtered your search results, save the search or set up alerts.

This means that you will be notified of other items being listed that meet that search criteria also and because you can be alerted to them, you won’t miss out on the new listing.  Win win!

A singer sewing machine table with a gilt frame and lamp on top with a vase full of pampas grass in the foreground.
I had an alert for Singer sewing machine tables set up for months on eBay and Facebook Marketplace. Managed to find one last year though!

Contact the seller for more information

I find this usually helps in knowing either when they need the item to be collected by, and perhaps extra dimensions too. It’s bad enough not being able to fit everything in the car at Ikea, never mind collecting something you’ve won on eBay, from the seller’s house!

I have had a situation where, even though I’d asked the question about where the item would be, it hadn’t been mentioned that it was up two floors and had taken four men to carry it up there when they’d moved into the house! That’s usually the situation I’m trying to avoid when I’m asking for more information from the seller.

All ended well because we found something better soon after that!

A wood burning stove in a black fireplace with a large gold mirror above it.
I just about managed to fit this gold mirror into the back of my small car, but only because I’d asked for the dimensions from the seller.

Don’t be afraid to haggle a little

So long as you’re polite and don’t make silly offers, I’ve never had a bad experience when haggling over eBay and Facebook Marketplace.  

You want to make sure you get a good deal, and if that happens through a little haggling then it’s worth it!

I hope that these tips have helped and I hope that you’re able to find some preloved or vintage treasure very soon!  I already have more search alerts saved!

Lydia xx

Follow me also on Instagram and Pinterest.

1 thought on “5 Top Tips for Buying Preloved or Vintage Online

  1. Very helpful reminders. Thank you


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