D o you remember when finding an absolute bargain on Trade Me was a give-in and not a fluke? When you could score yourself a real gem without the annoying whiff of a bidding war?
Me too! I remember it well, just like I remember being the only one to know about that cool little shop around the corner and down the lane until it became so wildly popular that a great deal seemed too-hard-basket impossible.
As someone who still loves to shop Trade Me (in addition to going out and buying new of course) I firmly believe that you can still find something great at a great price if you know where and how to look!
My tips and tricks for finding hidden gems on Trade Me
1. Know what you need
Oh how I used to hoard away little things and not have anywhere to put them, until I realised that all that ‘stuff’ felt intangibly heavy to own. So if you want to save yourself the clutter and protect your right to feel unburdened I say, shop with a plan.
Tip: Ask yourself, is it beautiful, practical and/or purposeful (ideally all 3)!
2. Think outside conventional search terms
That little tiny search bar is key to finding really unique pieces but so often we type in really obvious or overused search terms. Descriptive words like ‘mid century’ and ‘retro’ are heavily coined and therefore popular with many. Instead I’ve found a lot of success by searching:
- Countries or cities: Words related to a country or city that we associate with being aesthetically cool or uber stylish. For instance, New York, Paris, London, Melbourne etc etc or Italian, French, Japanese ….
- Decades and design movements: Specifying a decade or style within that decade is another way to hone in on specific and hopefully overlooked pieces. Words like brutalist, art nouveau, oriental, post-modernist, pop-art (whatever you’re into, give it a try) …
- Textures, colours, fabrics: This comes back to knowing what you need. Generally there are colours, fabrics and textures I am naturally hoping to find (because I can see them working in my space) so why not just cut to the chase and search for them?! Linen, velvet, suede, tan, whitewashed etc…
3. Shop Handmade
I search ‘handmade’ quite a lot on Etsy because I love the community-feel and uniqueness of knowing that something I own was made by someone I know (or feel like I know). So sometimes I’ll type in words that I associate with handmade. Words like bespoke or custom-made. This often leads me to an untapped bevy of Trade Me makers (or local stores). From Nana’s to aunts to students, there are a bunch of sellers who love to make cool stuff!
4. Be a rebel, search the sub categories
We are pre-programmed to type things into search bars and hope for the best (hello Google) but Trade Me is one of those places where every now and again you’ll want to scour the aisles. As in, those obscure categories within categories. I sometimes try ‘textiles and linens‘, ‘cultural and ethnic‘ or if I’m feeling really rebellious, I’ll dare to try that Alice-in-Wonderland category known as ‘other’.
5. Note down great search terms
If a word you’ve used generates an unexpectedly cool find, write it down for next time. That goes for any word in 2. that generates interior ‘gold’. Don’t forget that if you go back, select ‘latest listings’ so that it doesn’t feel like you’re viewing the same old thing.
6. If it’s that good, buy it now
I’ve loved and lost things for less than the cost of a caramel slice, simply because I sat on a listing without going for it when I had the chance. If it is everything you’ve dreamed of (and only if), either start the bidding (so no one else can ‘buy now’) or consider the buy now.
Maybe you love the side table but they’re offering the whole bedroom suite, ask if they’ll split it. Maybe you missed something that you now wish you’d bid on, go back through your ‘losts’ and request a relist. Maybe you love it, but it’s pickup only, ask if you can arrange for it to be picked up.
And there is a little insight into how my mind works on Trade Me, how I find what I find and why I still love it, alongside buying new of course.
Over the next couple of weeks and months I will begin to share a ‘made over’ room or two of our reno house with you which as you can imagine will include more than a few secondhand finds, hence the inspiration for this post!
If you enjoyed this, let me know, I’ll be following this up with part 2 and a quirky Trade Me find to give away. And, if you’ve got some tricks feel free to share (though I won’t be at all surprised if you keep them to yourself either!) 😉