A VIRTUAL TAG SALE—that’s what I thought eBay was, and I wasn’t interested. Antiquing is one of my least favorite gerunds (except when it comes to books, and there the word is antiquarian), nor am I one to trawl through lawns and sidewalks full of crap in pursuit of treasures. I like my clothing new and untouched.
What I didn’t know was that a lot of stuff on eBay is new (with or without tags or packaging), and although you may not get the rock-bottom prices you do on preowned wares, it’s still a lot cheaper. It is essential, though, to become an expert in the brand you’re buying—and I mean exact color, correct retail price, precisely right size. My triumphs include Stella McCartney for Adidas sneakers (two pairs: asymmetrically laced silver mesh and color-blocked high-tops in shades of gray, brown, and beige) at a fraction of their usual price, and two Longchamp Les Pliages bags, chocolate and graphite (respectively, 50 and 75 percent of what I’d have paid at the store).
But electronics are trickier. I got burned on a Motorola Razr cell phone that expired after only seven months. Supposedly it was “factory sealed,” and it looked kosher, but, clearly, poor Freckles (for that was her name, after her iridescent orange coat) had some congenital defect. I have transferred her contacts and given her a decent burial. Her violet successor, Prunella, purchased from Verizon, has a two-year health insurance plan.