Ebay started out as the mother of all flea markets. Hard to get vintage items and collectibles were it's niche market. My friend discovered the site and described it to me as the mall that never closes. These days Ebay has a section for motors, where you can not only buy car parts but motorcycles, boats and other vehicles. If it's not on Ebay, it's not for sale. You can buy things from out of state and avoid paying taxes. You can buy things from another country that are not available here.

Things You Will Need

You will need a computer you can log onto, and to shop you should establish a user name and a paypal account so that you can buy and sell items. Gone are the days when sellers were ordinary people selling junk out of their garage. While some of the sellers still are, others are huge volume drop ship businesses with warehouses all over the country.

Step 1

The first way to find a good deal is to always be half looking. Ebay has a service called "want it now." After creating an advanced search for the item you like, for example "Breyer Horse", you may save the search and have emails sent to you every time a new item is listed that matches your search. You may have to wade through some junk every day, but when that final something arrives - you are first bid! The more narrow the search the better your results will be this way.

Step 2

Another way to find the best deal is to routinely go in and set your sort button to things ending soonest. This will show you the item ending in less than a minute. If it's something you want and no one else has been you can get stuff for pretty cheap. Do this in conjuction with misspelling a word in the search. Lots of times things languish on Ebay because the seller was in a hurry and misspelled something in the title. Other times the seller just doesn't know how to spell, "Airdale" for "Airedale" for example, is really common.

Step 3

Another way to get a good deal is to look at the recently closed items that did not sell. Sometimes if you email the seller and ask them to sell you the item anyway they will relist it "Buy-it-Now" for you and you can get it right away. If you are really lucky they may even offer to sell it to you off of Ebay, although they are not supposed to do that. Ebay doesn't like people selling stuff with out them getting a commission. Nonetheless, sellers who have already paid a listing fee, only to have no one buy their item are often only to happy to sell to you.

Step 4

With the increase in the cost of gas, shipping can change the whole picture of if something is a "good" deal or not. Ebay has a search option to show items that are close to you. If you buy items within your own state the shipping is considerably cheaper. The trade off is, you have to buy tax. Some shippers in Hong Kong and China offer free shipping. You take a risk, slightly, with the over seas sellers - most are reputable. Those that are not are awfully far to prosecute.

Step 5

Look for items that are described as "New without tags." They have never been used, but because the tag is missing they are usually cheaper than the brand new items. Or if you are buying a high quality item, consider buying it gently used. Ask for more pictures if you can't tell how gently used it is, a reputable seller will oblige. Don't buy anything you aren't sure of. Don't buy heavy items from someone that won't pay for return shipping. Don't buy clothes if you can't be sure they will fit.

Step 6

Buy in bulk and buy from the same seller. Most will cheerfully combine shipping. The most expensive pound is always the first. Ask if there are cheaper slower methods of shipping. Keep a bookmark of the best sellers and return to them. Some, albeit not many, have discounts for return shoppers.

If you incidentally come across a jewelry item you like, try searching to see if other vendors are selling the exact same item. Whenever I see an infomercial on TV for an exciting new product I check for it on Ebay. One hundred per cent of the time, it's cheaper to get it on Ebay than from the TV offer, because the Ebay seller is not paying for the infomercial. Also you will get less junk mail if you stay away from purchasing anything via a mail order catalog.

Step 7

IF something you bought on Ebay doesn't fit, or isn't your color, consider re-selling it rather than returning it. I have made a tidy profit this way on items that didn't work out for me.
The recession seems to be here to stay. You might as well learn how to shop well.

Tips & Warnings

Be sure to look carefully at a seller's feedback. Even if the numbers seem good, something is fishy about a seller who is all of a sudden switching to high end expensive items after good feed back was created by small inexpensive items. A new seller is not necessarily bad, unless they sound cagey. Check if there is a return policy before you buy. Enjoy!