Buying and Selling Dolls on Ebay

You’ve thought about buying a doll on Ebay, but you’re not quite sure.  I know the feeling.  I have to say that I’ve bought quite a few things on Ebay and I’ve never gotten burned.  I’ve also sold a lot of things on Ebay and I do think that has helped me in my own purchases.  I’m going to share some of this info in hopes that it will help you too.

Selling:  I have sold all sorts of things on Ebay ranging from photography equipment, dishes, clothing AND dolls.  When my mom passed away I ended up with her very large collection of Barbie dolls.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Barbie.  I just don’t have room for 100 of her, all still in boxes and to be honest, the majority of them were collectors dolls, not my thing.  I decided to start listing them a couple at a time and it took me about a year, but they are now all gone.  It was an interesting and fun journey, sometimes frustrating.  The biggest thing I can emphasize in selling dolls, particularly still in the boxes is to be honest and disclose everything.  Take good photos, notate any damage to the boxes and price accordingly.  I know a lot of people have a hard time deciding what to charge for the dolls.  The best resource for this is to view the completed auctions for that item, it will show you several months of that item and what they sold (and didn’t sell) for.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the same dolls listed over and over again because they were over priced.  You CANNOT go by guide prices when selling on Ebay.  The market for collectibles fluctuates as much as the stock market and what was worth $200 last month is maybe only worth $15 this month.  Believe me, I know, I have a teddy bear that is a perfect example of this.  My $300 investment barely sells on Ebay now.  Good thing I like it!

Buying:  Ebay can be a great place to get a deal on a doll, particularly if you aren’t wanting something in mint condition.  I think this is a great way to get an American Girl doll for a little girl as a first doll.  $60 – $70 for a doll that might get beat up or not played with sure beats spending $110!  Start off by looking at completed auctions (again) to get an idea what the average going price is so that you don’t end up overpaying.  Then start searching!  Look at the pictures–I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to this, but I use the same rules for buying as I do for selling–the more pictures the better.  If you are trying to sell a doll with one picture or worse yet, a blurry picture, don’t expect me to look at your auction.  A good seller will show the condition of the doll.  If buying a doll NRFB (Never removed from box) it’s hard to tell, but it can be totally worth it.  In the case of American Girl dolls you want to be able to see the doll without clothes on to be sure there aren’t any major stains or damage to the doll, as well as a good shot of the front and back of the hair.  MOST IMPORTANT:  Check the sellers feedback!!!  I cannot emphasize this enough.  Go in and read the reviews from the seller, you can get a good idea if they are an honest person or not just from this.  And don’t be discouraged by one or two negative feedbacks in an otherwise stellar rating, read those reviews too and go from there.  I’ve seen some absolutely ridiculous negative reviews.  Sellers are human, not miracle workers.  We can’t control what happens once the box has gone to the post office, or if your reading comprehension issues keep you from making a good purchase.  Yet I’ve seen people place unjustified blame many times over in the feedback section.

Some of my pet peeves:

Selling something that isn’t what you say it is.  For MONTHS some idiot kept listing a doll as the Sunshine Family mom.  I’m not sure if this seller didn’t know better or was hoping someone would fall for it, but they had stuck the world’s ugliest doll head on the Sunshine Family mom body.  Most serious collectors know their stuff, don’t try and pass something off as what it isn’t.

Deceitful listings.  I can’t tell you the number of listings for AG dolls I’ve found that say “retired” in them for dolls that are still being made!!  Do your homework and be careful, this especially seems to be an issue when a company has announced a retirement list.  I have no time for liars and trying to take advantage in this way annoys me to no end.

Bad photos.  If someone can’t take the time to take good photos of what they are selling, they probably aren’t going to be honest in their listing or pack it well for shipping.

Lack of information in the description A description that says “doll in nice condition” and nothing more tells me you don’t care.  It’s not hard to tell in words about the doll.  Some people are visual people, some are verbal people.  You need to appeal to both because you don’t know the people personally.

Buyers who run up the prices.  I am continually amazed at the number of people who will bid up an auction to the point that the item goes for almost as much as the item would be if you bought it new.  Seriously?!?!  When I was looking to buy my AG Rebecca doll I had started out looking at auctions, but finally gave up because most of them were selling for around $100.  For another $10 I could have her brand new.  No brainer.  I’m on Ebay because A) I am looking for something that isn’t readily for sale everywhere or B) I want a deal.   A bit of advice here too–set a mental price limit on what you are wanting to buy on Ebay and stick to it.  This applies to anything on Ebay, not just dolls.  It is too easy to get caught up in the whole auction process and end up overpaying because you wanted to win.

Overcharging for shipping.  As someone who sells, I know the ins and outs of shipping.  Don’t try and sell a doll and charge $20 for shipping.  I’ve shipped heavy glassware packed to the max in a large box and only spent $14 to send it clear across the country.   It has become a common practice on Ebay to “pad” the shipping and then try and sell the item cheap.  It used to be a way dishonest sellers got around paying the fees to Ebay for their selling prices, but now Ebay charges a fee on shipping.  If someone is overcharging, they are not an honest seller, they are trying to make more on shipping.

As I mentioned before, I’ve bought all sorts of things on Ebay–purses, clothing, collectibles, you name it.  I’ve only bought a few doll related things, but I think I did very well.  One that I did exceptionally well on was The Sunshine Family.  My set had seen better days and one of them was severely damaged.  Mint in box sets go for around $50 which I find hilarious, back when these dolls came out in the 70’s they sold for about $5.  I ended up getting my set of near mint in box for $24 because they were part of a bundle.  For some reason people are afraid of bundles, but I’ve gotten a few really good deals this way.  In this instance they had bundled them with two dolls from Welcome Back Kotter.  I guess everyone was afraid of Mr. Kotter and Juan Epstein, not me!!

sunshine family and sweathogs

After I got them, I turned around and relisted Mr. Kotter and Juan, netting a profit of $8.26 after I paid my fees.  So essentially I got my Sunshine Family for just under $16, not bad!  I also bought a bulk lot of doll furniture and accessories because it had 3 pieces in it I wanted.  The three pieces by themselves generally sold for $30 and up by themselves but I got the whole lot for $8!!  To say I was thrilled was putting it mildly.   Some of the extras I kept, the rest I donated to Goodwill because they weren’t in all that great of shape or things that I could use.  I additionally found a great deal on a Barbie Kitchen that I didn’t want to pay a ton for because I was going to redo it.  Interestingly enough I paid less for a NRFB kitchen as opposed to one that was used and missing pieces just by poking around a lot on Ebay for about a week.  Patience!

My most recent purchase was an AG Kit Kittredge.  I always thought Kit was cute and debated on her before when I bought Rebecca.  I was a little more willing to take a chance on her from Ebay because of her short straight hair, less likely to be a mess.  It took me about 10 days before I finally found one I liked enough in the price range I wanted to spend.  I got her in a Buy It Now for $69.95.  The shipping was more than reasonable too, the photos were good and the seller had great feedback.  She was definitely worth it.  Note:  she was without clothing, but that was fine, Samantha and Rebecca rarely wear their “meet” outfits and in all honestly, Kit’s outfit is probably one of the most generic of the bunch, I can make her an outfit.  I also noticed that in most of the auctions for Kit, her shoes looked like heck, whatever they were made of didn’t hold up. What was nice about buying a used Kit is I could see from the photos what her freckles looked like.  I know that sounds weird, but I’ve seen some Kit dolls that look like they have a serious skin disorder instead of freckles.  She’s blond and blue eyed, her freckles should be subtle and I was able to find a doll that fit my expectations this way.  I wouldn’t have had this choice had I bought her brand new unless I went to an AG store, and even then it would have been iffy.

Meet Kit 1

Meet Kit 2

She arrived this week and to say I am happy is putting it mildly! I can spend the $40 I saved on other things and someone made some extra cash. She was packed incredibly well, it was obvious to me that this seller must do a decent amount of doll business, her body was wrapped in tissue paper and her head in some sort of fiber paper very tightly to keep her hair from getting messed up. I think she is just adorable, hopefully Rebecca and Samantha will treat her nicely 😉 You can see she is settling in well, eating an ice cream cone!

I hope the information I have posted helps anyone who is thinking of buying or selling dolls on Ebay. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section, I will be more than happy to answer them. Happy shopping!


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