Selling an Irish dancing dress online
Irish dancing solo dresses are a unique high ticket item with a niche market. With the Irish dancing community being worldwide, the best way to reach the right buyer for the dress you are selling is online, but selling such an expensive item via the internet can be very daunting. Am I giving the buyer the right information? Am I pricing my dress correctly? When is the best time to sell? What if the buyer pulls a swift one on me?! All legitimate questions, and all things to consider when you’re preparing for sale.
First things first, you’ll want to list your dress on a site that gets big traffic – more eyeballs means more chance of finding the right buyer and making a quicker sale. The two biggest websites are dance-again.com and feisdresses.com. Dance Again requires a small listing fee, while it is free to list on Feis Dresses. When you’re getting ready to list your dress online the biggest box you need to tick is photos. According to Lisa of dance-again.com, who has been running her site since 2001, “A photo of the dress on a dancer is great, but only if not covered by trophies and sashes, and only if the lighting is good.” Rhonda from feisdresses.com adds to this, “Most buyers are not concerned with how well the dancer competed in the dress, but are more concerned with how the dress looks. If you cover up a large portion of the dress in the main photo, most people won’t bother to look at the listing.”
“The best photo to use is the one that makes the dress look its best, so if you don’t have a good one of it on a dancer, take one of the dress either lying flat or on a hanger, whichever looks best. Have a plain background and arrange the dress so that the skirt is sitting properly. If lying down, take the photo from directly above, and if on a hanger, from directly in front (taking the photo on an angle can make the dress look out of proportion). If possible use natural light, so the colours of the dress look right in the photo,” says Lisa. Rhonda continues, “You probably also want to have detailed photos on hand to email to anyone interested in the dress. Photos of the inside of the dress, showing how much let out room is available are also great in helping to sell a dress. Make sure your photos are clear and not blurry, and large enough to show detail and not just a small picture that is hard to see. The photo is the most important part of the listing, to draw buyers in to read about the dress. Take time to make sure your photos are done well.” Lisa’s final suggestion for getting the best photo, “Plan ahead! Next time you are at a feis, take several photos of your dancer in the dress, front and back, no trophy or sash, and in natural light, and save them for your future dress ad!”
Unfortunately, you can have the best photos on the internet of your dress, but if it isn’t priced to sell then it could sit there for months, or even years, without a single enquiry. Firstly, “Have a look at similar dresses that are already for sale and price your dress accordingly. You have a lot of competition, so pricing your dress the same as, or a little less than dresses already for sale will give you the best chance of attracting buyers,” says Lisa. “Be willing to negotiate with buyers. Taking a little off your price now is much better than still having the dress under your bed months later, unsold.” Rhonda adds to this, “The longer a dress remains for sale, the more the value drops. Consider if your dress sits for a year without selling. It is now a style that is yet another year older and worth significantly less.” But what about making your dress final sale? Lisa points out, “If you have listed your dress as “final sale”, consider changing this to returnable. Buyers are more likely to take a chance on a dress if they know they can return it.”
Is there a best time of the year for selling a dress quickly? With a global community it’s always feis season somewhere! Rhonda notes, “You want to get your dress listed as soon as you know you are selling it. Don’t let it sit under the bed waiting! The style will get older by the month and its value will drop over time.” Lisa adds, “Buyers are always looking, but if I had to choose [the busiest times] it would be September/October (North American Oireachtas season), followed closely by January (Australian and New Zealand dancing year begins) and May (Pre NAN’s).” That said, as Rhonda points out, “You don’t want to miss out on a buyer who might fit your dress just because you waited to post it for sale.”
So you have found a buyer, what comes next? The negotiation. Lisa very plainly states, “When negotiating a sale with a buyer, the seller should always be very clear about their return policy.” This means as a seller you should set a 48-72 hour window in which the buyer can try the dress on, show the teacher, and make a decision. “The buyer should let the seller know straight away if there are any problems with the dress and send it back immediately. Only when you receive the dress back in the same condition in which it was sent should you send a refund.” Rhonda firmly adds, “Make sure you are clear to the buyer that they may not wear the dress for a feis or performance — yes, this should be made clear. With package tracking available, you should be able to tell what day the dress arrived, and notify the buyer ahead of time that in order to return the dress, they must provide you the return tracking number within 3 days of receiving the dress.”
“Most buyers are happy to have a return period and are agreeable to terms like this. If you have good communication and a good agreement ahead of time, usually it goes well. If you find a buyer is quite difficult to work with before you even send the dress, that may be an indicator that they will be trouble after receiving it. If you feel uncomfortable with a buyer, you don’t have to sell to them. Both parties in the transaction take some risk, so both parties should feel comfortable with each other,” Rhonda states. And a final word from Lisa, “Once they wear the dress, they own it.”
Have you sold an Irish dancing dress online? Do you have any advice you can add? Share it in the comments below.