eBay used to be great. It’s the granddaddy of sites where anyone can buy and sell. While this is its strength, it can also be a weakness. While originally it was the Internet equivalent of a garage sale, as time has gone on, more professionals have started selling here. This makes it harder to find bargains while greatly increasing the number of items available.
The participation of needlework shops on eBay can be great for buyers. If you are not near an LNS these shops can become a main source for purchasing. Items purchased this way are pretty much bought at fixed prices at or near retail. In some cases the canvases are ordered just as they would be at a brick and mortar store.
In addition several of them handle consignments, giving you a place to unload your stash. Most of these sales start at a very low price and are open for about a week. As is always the case for auctions, sometimes you get great bargains and sometimes Auction Fever hits and the price for an in-production canvas can be more than twice the normal retail price!
For people who have used eBay in the past, the search function along with the specific needlepoint categories was the way to look for needlepoint. Not anymore. Earlier this year they got rid of the categories for needlepoint & plastic canvas (which was really dumb). Now the items of most interest to us are clumped together with lots of other stuff. It used to be that I did survey searches of eBay every couple of weeks, just to see what was out there. I no longer do this, not because there are so many canvases but because it is hard to do without getting tons of unwanted hits.
To give you an example I was using eBay to search for cookie canvases for the cookie chronicles. If I just put cookie in when I got to needlework in crafts I’d get tons of cross stitch patterns and an occasional felt project or two. It was hard to find the needlepoint. In order to narrow the search I would need to add the words “needlepoint” or “hand-painted.” “Canvas” will not work because it will give you both plastic canvas and needlepoint canvas. Doing this makes it harder to search. If I knew where to complain I would.
Almost all my searches, and therefore my purchases, on eBay today are in areas where I can search, for example clothing. In fact 80% of my purchases are there. A year ago 80% of my purchases were needlepoint-related.
Because of this change I rarely buy needlepoint from eBay except through stores. On eBay you can sell either as an individual or in a store. If you have a store you pay a monthly fee for the store. Stores can have shop newsletters as well. Often they are not very helpful, but they do serve as nice reminders to go look. If you want to sell and do not want a store, you can find out how to do this and list your items through the selling area in My eBay.
For us as buyers, stores are great because we can favorite them to find them in My eBay or bookmark them in our browsers. I do this all the time. I also have bookmarked either the store home page or the store’s items page in my browser. I check several of these regularly for items. You can also do this with individual sellers.
In addition as a registered user you can watch items. This is a one-click option in the light blue box that has the price. Watched items appear together in one area in My eBay. You can put watched items in your cart, bid on them or delete them. eBay will send you reminders about watched items, items you’re bidding on, and items you’ve viewed. They also will send you emails when new items are added to your saved searches when you have asked for emails. These can be great ways to find elusive items.
While casual searches on eBay are harder now, you can narrow down searches by clicking the advanced link next to the search box. You can limit your search in many ways including, among others, geographic area, price, words to exclude, and type of sale. Once you have found the magic combination you can save it (link under search word box) and choose whether or not to get emails about it. When you want that search again, just go to “saved searches” in My eBay and you can run it again. I have dozens of these fro everything from straws to very elusive books.
In spite of all its difficulties, I still really love eBay. I’ve gotten so many good things there.
About Janet M Perry
Janet Perry is the Internet's leading authority on needlepoint. She designs, teaches and writes, getting raves from her fans for her innovative techniques, extensive knowledge and generous teaching style. A leading writer of stitch guides, she blogs here and lives on an island in the northeast corner of the SF Bay with her family
Care to comment on needlework items on Amazon as well? When I do general searches for books, they often turn up here as well as on ebay. It depends on the item, but I’ve been able to purchase some of the older needlework books at reasonable prices and good service. I’m a member of EGA and ANG, and many of the courses/projects have bibliographies. These guide many of my purchases, and I suspect they are what the teacher/designer has in their library. As such, they are frequently out of print (OOP). I suspect a lot of stashes/personal libraries are being cleared out in the last few years. At least with the web I’ve been able to locate copies,
Janet M Perry says
I’ll make this Monday’s post, hanks for the idea!
Hi, Janet: I have found some tricks to using ebay’s browser when searching for needlepoint canvases and threads. If I were looking for reindeer canvases, excluding plastic canvases & Christmas stockings, I would type it this way in the browser: reindeer needlepoint -plastic -stocking -stockings The minus sign is used in front of the unwanted word but spaced one space behind the search words. And you may have to type those words twice to include an S (plural) as they do not always distinguish between singular and plural word in searches. I have also found it best not to use the descriptive category (i.e., needleworks, etc.) but rather a straight browser search, uncategorized. Etsy leaves me frustrated. Amazon seems to offer mostly printed canvases and I have not found the brick and mortar stores on Amazon as I do on ebay. I have found that some ebay sellers sell canvases for more than I would pay in a LNS and some charge too much for shipping but other than that they’re my happy go-to source.
Agree, learning tricks to searching makes it much easier to find what you’re looking for. Also, when I search for specific needlepoint canvases, it doesn’t bother me that other versions of the design — like counted cross stitch come up. I was recently searching for an out-of-production canvas that no LNS had, but an ebay search gave me the counted cross stitch kit with chart. I was able to purchase the kit, set the floss and aida cloth aside, and create the needlepoint I wanted in the first place with the wool I wanted to use.