frugality mycloset shopping

Buy a Lot, Save a Little. Buy a Little, Save a Lot.

As you may already know if you read my personal blog, I’m expecting our second child this December. Last time I was pregnant, I didn’t start to “show” until August, so most of the maternity clothes I have are for the fall and winter.

This time, I needed maternity clothes by early June. Realizing it would be a long, hot, summer, I decided to invest in a few nice summer tops. Since I’d had a lot of success buying lots of clothes for my little boy on eBay, I thought I’d try it for myself.

I easily found large lots of nice summer maternity clothes, many “NWT” (new with tags). I calculated what I was willing to pay per item, including shipping, and got to bidding. But I kept losing the auctions, even when I waited ’til the last minute to bid. I saw that new maternity tops were $16.99 apiece at Target, so I was unwilling to pay more than that on eBay. Actually, I didn’t want to go over $10 per item, though a couple bidding frenzies got me up to $13/item. I still lost.

maternity shirts
Two of the shirts I bought on eBay.

Frustrated, I decided to check out the auctions for small lots and individual items. In children’s clothing, these are usually worse deals: items selling for twice or three times what you’d pay for them in lots. But surprisingly, in maternity clothes, individual items were much cheaper. I ended up buying nine shirts that ranged in price from $1.25 to $13. Even with shipping calculated in, they averaged only $5.32 per shirt (two of the small lots were from the same seller, so I saved a little on shipping).

Why were people paying so much more for the clothes in lots? Maybe it was the perception that buying in bulk saves money. Maybe they didn’t want to bother searching through the other listings to find individual items. Whatever the reason, I’m going to be a lot more cautious of lot sales on eBay in the future. Just like in the grocery store, it always pays to calculate the per-item price so you can really see what you’re paying.

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1 Comment

  1. Dan says:

    I wonder if there can be a lottery/baseball card effect, where people assume that a larger lot is more likely to contain a severely under-priced find than a smaller (and presumably pre-screened) lot or individual piece.
    For the record, the thought of buying a lot of clothes is not something I’d ever considered before.

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