Selling vintage items in your Etsy shop can be a fun way to upcycle, recycle, and help people live a more sustainable lifestyle. Pricing those items, though can be difficult if you don’t know what they could be worth.
So how should you go about pricing your vintage items for sale on Etsy, or anywhere else?
Table of Contents
- What to consider when pricing your vintage items on Etsy.
- Don’t compete on price on Etsy.
- Do you want to use the “Make An Offer” feature on Etsy?
- What if you can’t find comps for sold items?
- Consider where else you sell.
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links that will pay me a small commission if they’re used to purchase something. To see the entire affiliate policy click here.
For an article about decorating with vintage Christmas decorations, click here
What to consider when pricing your vintage items on Etsy.
Pricing vintage items for Etsy involves taking a few things into account:
What’s the average price that people on Etsy are charging?
Etsy has a lot of vintage listings with extremely variable pricing. This doesn’t mean that you have to look at every price and decide how much to charge for something based on that, but you do need to do some investigation to see if the prices that are considered normal for that product are high enough to make it worth it for you.
And if you know that something is more valuable, you’ll be able to see whether people on Etsy or under or overcharging.
You definitely need to do some product comparison as far as sold prices go because things are basically worth as much as someone is willing to pay for them.
If you go to eBay and check what that type of item has sold for in the past, (not what it’s been listed for but what it’s sold for,) you may find that the prices on Etsy are way too high for what the market will bear, and you may want to price your items lower in order to make a faster sale.
You may also decide to price higher than the prices on eBay if people on Etsy are selling things at a higher price and it looks like those items have sold for those prices in the past.
Kerrie, owner of How Fast Time Flies, says that she prefers to set a higher price and be patient when it comes to selling her inventory:
“I research sold items and then what they are selling for currently. Solds are good to see what it currently sold for but you need to look at what they are priced at currently in case the market shifted up or down. Ebay’s prices tend to be cheaper, so I price to Etsy standards and use that price across all platforms. If I’m not able to find many sold comps, I price high and let the market decide, or weed out the low prices and hope mine is left for later at the higher price. I tend to price for the slowish nickel.”
You can go into some vintage shops’ sold items to see if those items are selling, but you won’t be able to see what price they sold for.
Just testing to see whether there is interest in those items in the form of that shop having made sales, though, can give you an idea about whether there’s a demand for that on Etsy.
Lynne, owner of Our Seasons Past, points out that where you find your vintage items to begin with is important in controlling your costs, and maximizing your profits.
“Sourcing is important to manage upfront costs of vintage items. There may be great sources out there in addition to thrift stores and estate sales… e.g. universities and libraries purge books and magazines periodically. And buying in bulk can make a big difference in your costs. Get to know sources personally, so they can contact you when they’re getting rid of items you can use.”
Kerrie agrees with this and adds “I’ve always been told you make your profit when you purchase.”
So when you’re purchasing things to resell, make sure that it makes sense for your business.
Even if you get something at a low price, you still need to make sure that the price really is low, or if it’s what people are selling that for online.
If there’s no profit to be made, it’s not worth buying that thing!
Have you included all possible discounts and fees into your prices?
When you sell on any platform, the fees that the platform charges have to be added in as an expense. You also have to think about any potential discounts or coupons that you offer.
If you don’t take those things into account, you might not make as much as you think, and you might actually end up losing money on some sales.
Pricing vintage items too low will potentially end up making you lose money with every order because of the fixed fee 20 cent listing fee and the 35 cent fee that’s wrapped into the payment processing fee.
If you want to make sure to get everything included in your pricing, you should get my Pricing Guide here: Pricing Guide for Etsy Businesses. It goes into full detail about how to figure out how much to include in the price of each item so that you’re not caught off-guard.
Once you get past the deciding on prices part, you then have to think about how you’ll structure your price points.
Don’t compete on price on Etsy.
There is no good reason to compete on price alone when you sell on Etsy. The fact is, when people start undercutting each other, all it takes is someone to come along and mark their items at 1 cent less than yours in order to “win.”
In this case, the winner is the loser.
Compete on quality and originality, emphasize that in your marketing, and you’ll have a much better chance of making a profit at the end of the year.
People also tend to think of a higher price as being an indicator of higher quality, so don’t leave the human behavior part of it out of your calculations!
My vintage shop is 100% stocked with random things that my husband and I have inherited from elderly relatives, and that my kids don’t want! My cost for the inventory is zero, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to price things lower than I should.
First, that’s being an undercutter, which I’m not in favor of. Second, pricing things accurately will result in a little more profit, which is always good.
I tend to use the eBay sold items to get an idea of what people are willing to pay for things, then I look on Etsy to see what’s being charged for them.
I’ll usually go more toward the Etsy prices so that my prices are in line with the other things that are available, and that will also give me some room to run a sale if the item doesn’t sell within the four-month listing period.
Do you want to use the “Make An Offer” feature on Etsy?
Etsy is currently testing a “make an offer” feature where the sellers in the beta test can accept offers from customers the same way that they do on eBay.
This isn’t going to be something that everyone wants to participate in, but if you do, you might want to think about pricing things a little higher than the lowest offer you’d accept for it.
That’s a good idea to do anyway since you might want to run a sale at some point, and you’ll need to have some wiggle room to keep your profit margins if you have a discount.
What if you can’t find comps for sold items?
If you can’t find any information about what different items have sold for in the past or recently, you might have to make an educated guess to choose a price. Before you do that, though, you should check into whether there are any forums or Facebook groups that focus on the type of item you’re pricing.
When I had a bunch of vintage Barbie dolls that I wanted to sell, I was able to find comps for the clothing, but the dolls were so specific it was hard to know which one was which.
I found a Facebook group for Barbie collectors, and they were able to tell me in about two minutes the exact value of the dolls that I had, as well as the specifics of how to describe them accurately.
The same thing happened when I found some old, strangely-shaped keys.
I did some research and found out that they were probably railroad keys, so I posted in a railroad enthusiast group and immediately got a ton of information and offers to buy them, so I realized that they were probably worth a lot more than I had thought.
There are a lot of vintage groups on Facebook and in other forums where you can get information about pieces that you don’t have knowledge of, so don’t be afraid to post about your items to see if someone can give you info on them.
Consider where else you sell.
If you sell on any platforms other than Etsy, or if you have your own website, you’ll need to decide whether you want to charge the same or have different prices in each place. There are reasons why you would want to have prices a little lower on a website than on Etsy, mainly so that people shop on your website for a better price.
You might also want to sell vintage products on multiple platforms, but you’ll need to decide whether to post the same thing in multiple places.
If you don’t want to do that because it makes tracking inventory too complicated, you may want to sell specific collections of things on Etsy or your website exclusively.
If you do have a website, you can offer exclusive items that you only sell there in order to get people to shop there so that you can maximize your profits and not have to pay fees to a platform.
I’ve heard of people who only offer coupons on their websites, and never on Etsy. There are ways to move people from Etsy to your website where you don’t have to pay Etsy’s fees, and pricing can be one of them.
Pricing vintage products can be tricky because of a number of factors, but if you set your prices where you need them to be to make a profit, you can always adjust to respond to market changes. And by that, I mean you can raise them if need be!
If you've ever shopped for anything online, you've probably seen messages that say "only one left". Does this mean that there really is only one of that thing left? Or is it just a trick to try to...
It doesn't happen very often, but every now and then, you'll buy something on Etsy and then realize that the shop is closed after you've purchased from them. How should you handle this situation?...