I’m Not Only The President, I’m Also A Client

I became a vintage seller because I am also a vintage buyer. When I realized that my personal collection included too many “specimen pieces” which were lovely but not my size, I decided to share the booty. I can have a dress tailored, but too-small shoes are going to remain too-small shoes. And how many silver lamé handbags should one girl rightfully own?

Of course, in order to keep things going, I need to keep buying. When my inventory is running low, I may pick up a few things that aren’t to my taste, but which I feel have merit. However, most of the time, I pick up stuff that I would be happy to wear (or use) myself. Which leads me to…

I’ve been scouring eBay for vintage swimsuits. I need a “new” one, and as long as I’m looking, I’ll see if I can afford a few for the store. If you feel like it, you can do a keyword search and see how many come up. A good number are vintage-reproductions. An equally large number are represented as true vintage, but I can tell from the photos that the seller is either confused, clueless, or flat-out lying. I saw one that definitely was vintage, but the Rose Marie Reid label either wasn’t original to the suit, or was original but had fallen out and been sewn back in (badly) by an owner at some point. There are all sorts of things to look out for, and I consider myself pretty savvy. I have to be.

When I spotted a listing for a “50s-60s rockabilly VLV vintage bathing suit” “in great condition” with no accompanying photo and a low starting bid, I added it to my Watched list. After a few days, a single photo appeared. The photo was small, blurry, and cropped off the very bottom of the suit. I’ve passed over other listings for similarly vague photos, but the low opening bid and 100% feedback score must have encouraged me to dive in. I placed a low bid, and forgot about it. Completely. I mean, when I received notification that I won the auction, I honestly didn’t remember bidding on it. But hey, there you go. I paid right away, and waited. Priority Shipping meant that I wouldn’t have to wait long.

Oh, but I did. 11 days after I paid the invoice, I contacted the seller and asked about the status of the package, and for a tracking number (heads up: all Priority packages include tracking, although it isn’t as robust as UPS or FedEx). I heard nothing. I thought about writing again the next day, but decided to give it another 24 hours. Lo and behold, my package arrived today! Postmarked 11 days after I paid! And wrapped in a United States Post Office bag, because the seller’s original packaging, a brown paper grocery bag, had torn open in transit. Now I ask you: If you’re selling a 40 or 50 year old swimsuit, are you shipping it in a grocery bag? Well no, no you’re not. Because I finished opening the bag to see a swimsuit that isn’t more than 5 years old. It’s an attractive color and a flattering, vintage-INSPIRED cut, but with clear hints as to its modern creation. For one thing, it’s a spandex blend fabric with a fine hand. Swimsuits weren’t made out of fabric this drapey before the ’80s, and the matte finish puts it no older than the ’90s. The lack of pilling, the blue-on-blue faux brocade print, and the cast metal rosettes on the straps indicate that it’s likely even newer.

This seller doesn’t accept returns, but I’ve sent a message explaining my dissatisfaction and am now in Wait And See mode. The next step is to contact eBay and PayPal and file disputes with both, but I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that. Be careful out there, kids!

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