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Selling Vintage Scarves Online

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10 Tips for Selling Scarves Online
Selling Vintage Scarves Online

Mid-century Swiss Silk Scarf

© Sue Sorensen
Here are some tips for selling scarves online:
  1. Look for designer names. Even in the current economy, designer scarves will sell if competitively priced. Some popular designer names include Hermes, Dior, Burmel, Vera, Sally Gee, Oscar de la Renta, Yves Saint Laurent, Adrienne Vittadini, Echo, Liz Claiborne, Anne Klein, Calvin Klein, Ellen Tracy, Pierre Cardin, Perry Ellis, Honey, and Albert Nipon. Collectors also like scarves that come from particular organizations and museum gift shops, imprinted with the company or museum’s name.
  2. Scarves without designer names are also popular if they are excellent quality and great colors and designs. I buy non-designer scarves if I find them as aesthetically appealing as a designer scarf.
  3. Silk and other natural fabrics are the best sellers. Sell synthetics only if they have outstanding designs and colors.
  4. Don’t pay too much for your inventory. The cost of selling online runs about 20 to 25 percent of the sale price, and your own time is worth something, too. I try not to spend more than about $3 for a scarf that I can expect to sell for $10 to $15.
  5. Buy at thrift stores, church or charity rummage sales,garage and moving sales, and especially estate sales. Ask where to find scarves — they are often hidden away somewhere, and sellers do not realize that they have any value. You may also find affordable scarves at antique shops or vintage clothing stores. And sometimes I get great inventory by buying larger box lots from other eBay sellers, then “cherry picking” the best scarves for individual resale.
  6. After design, condition is the next most important factor in selling scarves. Avoid buying scarves that are stained, torn, or have holes, snags, unraveled hems or odors. If you do offer a scarf that has condition problems, be sure to describe them fully so buyers aren’t surprised or disappointed. And, to maintain repeat business, have a generous return policy. Personally, I always give a full refund on any scarf that a buyer doesn’t like, and it keeps them coming back to buy more.
  7. Iron scarves on a gentle silk setting before photographing them. Use PhotoShop or other photo editing software to crop your photos so they show only the scarf and not the surroundings. Also, use photo editing to make any necessary color corrections.
  8. To determine pricing, search for what similar scarves have recently sold for on eBay. For example, search for “vintage Echo silk scarf,” and then click on the box in the left margin on the eBay search page that says “completed listings only.” This will show you vintage Echo silk scarves that have sold (or not!) over the past several weeks and what the terms of the sale were, both price and shipping cost.
  9. I believe in pricing my scarves very reasonably so my inventory keeps moving. However, sometimes scarves don’t sell, and I will offer them again at a low fixed-price rather than trying another auction. Fixed-price selling on eBay has a lower listing fee than auctions do, although the same percentage will be charged at the end of the transaction if the item sells. Another tactic I use to clear out accumulated unsold inventory is bundling scarves into a lot of 20 or 50 nice scarves and offering them at about the same price I paid for them myself.
  10. Keep your shipping prices low! A scarf does not cost very much to ship, from 45 cents if it fits into a regular letter size envelop and is nearly flat, up through perhaps $2.50 for a thick challis scarf sent in a larger envelope. As an incentive to impulse purchases, I always offer free shipping on individual scarves.
Shown above:
This mid-century Swiss silk scarf sold for $24.99. It was hand printed and has gorgeous colors, so minor condition problems did not prevent it from being desirable. In mint condition, it might have fetched $50 to $75.

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