A Little Knowledge Can be Dangerous, or “An Easy Way to Tell if That Vintage Chanel Bag is a Fake”

I don’t know whether to call this a sad story, or a tale about one of the times when I thought I knew too much. On this particular day I had more cash in my pocket than I normally have when I go to garage sales, or estate sales, about $900.  My first stop was at a moving sale where the people were moving out of the country and everything was for sale.  I spent close to $300 and the most expensive thing about was $15.  Prices were very good.

My next stop was an estate sale.  Three daughters were handling the estate of their mother who had passed at the ripe old age of 92.  Both parents had been professional dancers and had traveled the world on tour with a dance show.  The first thing that caught my eye was a table full of Coco Chanel purses, handbags, clutches, shoulder bags, wallets etc.  There were about twenty of the Coco Chanel goodies.  Prices ranged from $90 to $800 depending on the age and condition of the item.   My knowledge of Chanel products was very limited and I didn’t feel comfortable spending that kind of money on something that was new to me.  So, I left the sale and went home, just a couple of miles away, to research Coco Chanel Purses and handbags. After spending ten minutes or so on the computer I felt that I knew enough to make an investment in one of the Chanel pieces.  When I got back to the sale all but seven of the bags were gone and two of those were Bottega Veneta brand, something I’d never heard of.  I decide to play if safe and but one of the older, no so expensive Chanel bags.  The bag I had really wanted was gone and what I should have done is leave the sale, or look at other things beside the bags.  Anyway, I picked out a nice $130 off white little clutch that the daughter said her Mom had bought in Paris sometime in the 80’s.  The label in the bag said, made in France so that seemed to check out.  The bag didn’t have the hologram, or serial number that Chanel bags are supposed to have, but I had just read that Chanel didn’t start numbering their bags until 1986.  OK, the bag looked and felt like quality,  like a $2000 bag, and since Mom bought it in Paris in the 80’s it must be one of those that they made before they started with the serial numbers.  I’m going to buy the bag and sell it for six or eight hundred, probably. I called the daughter over and tried to negotiate the price.  I offered $100, she said no, I offered $110, she declined. She said she had to get $130 for it because the three daughters had agreed not to drop the prices on any of her Mom’s clothes, accessories, or jewelry.  I still had a pocket full of cash so I gave her the $130 and went on to the next sale, feeling pretty good about my purchase.

A few weeks later, I decided to list the bag on ebay to make a quick few hundred dollars.  I took some nice photos and listed the bag around 7:00 PM on a Saturday.  Then I went to hang out with some friends.  Sunday morning, when I checked my email, I had an email from ebay saying that they had removed the listing for the Chanel bag because it was a fake.  They said if I re-listed it they would suspend my account.  I’ve sold almost 2,000 things, with no problems, on ebay and I certainly didn’t want my account suspended.  My feedback is 100% positive so I’m not going to test them.  I tried to give the bag to my neighbor, but she said she never goes anywhere to use it.  She said I should give it to my daughter who lives in North Carolina.  I called my daughter and she already had three of the Chanel fakes that she bought at a flea market.  I tried to give it to my Granddaughter but she said she doesn’t carry a purse and if she did that one would be too small.  I came close to putting it in the dumpster behind the ABC Liquor store  across the street, but I didn’t.  I thought about keeping it to remind me of my mistake, but as time passed I felt sure I would never make that mistake again.  I have a shop on ETSY, so I decided to sell it there and just say it’s a fake and tell how you can tell it’s a fake.  Sunday, at about 9:00 PM, I listed the bag on Etsy with a title and a description that both said it was a fake.  I priced it at $35.  In the description I said, “don’t tell your friends it’s a fake and they will probably never know; if one of them says it’s a fake, just say “Yeah, I know, but I only paid $35 for it.”  About 10:00 PM i got an email from ETSY saying the bag sold.  I lost $95 on the deal, but I learned two valuable lessons. Lesson number one is don’t be too anxious to buy something at an estate sale.  I should have done more research before spending $130.  If I had I would have learned how to tell if a Chanel bag is real, or fake.  Lesson number two is how to tell if a Chanel purse, or bag is authentic, genuine, or real.  It’s so simple.  Just look at the zipper pulls.  Genuine Chanel bags have “Chanel” imprinted on one side of the zipper pull and the Coco Chanel logo on the other side.  I had to read through several web sites to find that little bit of information.  Hopefully it might help someone avoid buying a fake Chanel bag.


Getting a Better Deal at Garage Sales

Do you ever wonder if there’s a way to get a better price when you buy stuff at a garage sale. Well there is, and I’m going to tell you how I do it. Garage sales, tag sales, moving sales, and yard sales are all pretty much the same. We’ll talk later about Estate Sales.
Two important things;

  1. The first thing is, if you have two vehicles like maybe a BMW and a Toyota Corolla. Take the Corolla to the garage sales.
  2. The second thing is, don’t wear your Jimmy Choo pumps, your Marc Jacobs jeans, your Dior Cardigan, your Fendi Tote bag, or your Prada Sunglasses. You get the idea, no expensive designer clothes. Don’t look like you’re trying to keep up with the Kardashians… Even if you have some of that stuff that you bought at the thrift store, don’t wear it. If you do, don’t expect to get any real break on prices at a garage sale.

Setting up for a garage sale is hard work. The seller usually was up late the night before the sale, or he/she got up very early in the morning. A big garage sale takes a few days to prepare for, so the seller is probably going to be tired and maybe a little grumpy. It pays to be nice, and friendly toward the seller. Wait your turn to ask about a price, and try not to ask for a discount when others are close by. Smile when you speak to the seller. If they tell you something costs $20, try to look disappointed or sad, and say something like, “Could you possibly consider selling it for $10, I really can’t afford $20.” There is a good chance they will say yes and you’ll own it for $10. If they say no, and you really want the item, say will you take $12. If the answer is still no, ask “what is the least you can take for it?”

Another important thing: When you see something that you really like, don’t go nuts over it. Don’t act like you can’t live without it. If you do, it will surely affect the price.

If a seller has several things that you like, try putting them all together before you try to negotiate the price. That’s called bundling. Sellers are more apt to give a big discount on a large sale.

It’s not rocket science. Leave your $60,000 car home. Don’t dress like your going shopping at Saks. Be nice to the seller, even be a little humble. If you try these little things, you will surely save yourself some money $$$$$$$$$.

Now about the Estate Sales:

Some estate sales are conducted by surviving family members, and can be negotiated pretty much the same as a garage sale. The Estate Sales that are most difficult are those that are conducted by an Estate Sale Company. The Estate Sale Company usually has a staff of a few people that research things on the Internet, before pricing them. Many times when you try to negotiate a price they will tell you it sells on eBay for that much. Ask them if they looked at completed sales or active listings. Ask them if the price on eBay was in the color red, or green. Prices in green have sold. Prices in red did not sell. Chances are they looked at active listings and the prices they saw were asking prices, not what the item sold for. Let the seller know that you know that selling on eBay is a hassle. It’s not easy, and it’s not cheap. It takes time to take photos, write the description, and write out their return policies. Then there is a listing fee, a picture fee, a final value fee, and then PayPal takes their cut when the buyer pays for the item. Oh yeah, then the item has to be packed and shipped to the buyer. The Estate Sale seller would be better off to give you a 30 or 40 percent discount and be done with it. Eliminate all the handling and save some time. One more thing. Estate sales usually do give a large discount on the last day of the sale. Only problem is, most of the good stuff will probably be gone by then.

Happy hunting!

P. S.
If you like to see some of the things I’ve picked up at Garage Sales, Yard Sales, Tag Sales, Flea Markets, and Thrift Stores stop by my Etsy shop Antiques n’ Oldies https://www.etsy.com/shop/AntiquesNOldies