I normally keep my blog posts pretty light and cheery. Nobody wants to read some ranty old sow banging on about what’s annoyed her this week. However… I’m feeling ranty right now and have for some time so the cap fits, and I’m going to wear it.
The state of the pre-loved market is something much maligned by anyone who was babywearing pre-2014ish. The market has been flooded by a plethora of beautiful new brands and designs, and the halcyon days of being able to flog used slings off for more than you paid for them are long gone. I’m pretty sad about that in general as I used to love a really good churn and would sometimes have two or three new slings a week rolling up at the same pace that they rolled straight back out again. I got to try a lot. These days, purchases are more considered and as such, selling is nothing short of a complete ballache.
I think the thing I’m really taking issue with at the moment, is the amount of effort you have to make to sell a wrap. It’s a buyer’s market right now and boy do they know it. Not only do we now suffer the unfamiliar indignity of selling (often significantly) below retail and having to bump our posts daily for weeks on end, we are now at the mercy of Buyers With Questions.
Now. I myself have asked questions before purchasing. It’s not unexpected for a buyer to query exact length before committing, or to ask for an action shot or a flat shot. This is not unreasonable. The problem is that now, these questions are mandatory. Nobody will purchase without first asking for exact length and a flat/action shot.
OK, that’s fine… I can tolerate that. It’s of some use. But then you get the “I’m asking for additional pictures because I think I should be but I don’t really know what it is that I’m wanting to gain from it” parties. People want more pictures of well-known slings to better see the colour or pattern or what they look like in a certain light. GOOGLE IT! Most of us are parents of young children, we don’t exactly have the time to drag neatly folded slings out, unfold them, take various pictures with flash, without flash, with child, flat shot etc, fold them back up again, send you the pictures... Whereas if you have the time to type “can I have a flat shot of the Starry Night Nebula?” onto a For Sale listing, you have time to type “Starry Night Nebula” into Google!
And there’s really no shortage of “I can’t be arsed to Google it” questions. “What’s the blend?” GOOGLE IT. “What’s the GSM?” GOOGLE IT. “What’s the linen percentage in this?” GOOGLE GOOGLE GOOGLE!!!! Because otherwise I have to go away and Google it and then come back and answer your question when you could have just typed it into Google in the first place! Now of course the pedantic amongst you will be saying "but there's two different blends of Starry Night Nebula". And that, my friends, is where questions become necessary. Because Google can't answer the question of which blend you have.
Sometimes the questions get really ridiculous. And again I think people are asking because they think they should be. But some of the things I (and others I know) have been asked are simply ludicrous. “Is it smooshy?” is one example. What? What even is that? If I say yes and it arrives and you find it is not in fact smooshy, will PayPal side with you? Or on an advert for a brand new, unworn sling; “is it broken in?” No. It probably isn’t. “How moldable is it?” Now I know this stuff is important personally but come on guys, it’s very much potayto potahto here. “Will it carry my toddler?” Well I don’t know. Hold on, I’ll ask it… “Is it suitable for a boy?” what, does it have some sort of penis guard? What are we hoping for here?
Also, asking the length of a wrap advertised as a certain size… Now, I get why this is practical. I personally favour a longer 6 so if I find something I like at around 490cm I’m generally fairly delighted. But… recently I’ve had two separate incidents of people asking me to measure because they were hoping it was a different size. Had they said “Can you measure your 3 because I’m really after a 2” I could say “It’s definitely a generous 3!” and we’re all happy! But no, I had to stalk downstairs and measure it only for them to say “Oh. I was hoping it was a 2”.
The real problem with all of these questions is that despite them being mostly pointless (barring the questions that you actually NEED to ask!) we must tolerate them and patiently answer them. Because otherwise we look rude or difficult. And because the market is currently so slow, we find ourselves tolerating more simply because we’re all desperate to get a sale. We are now slaves to the buyers. So you can’t point out that they’ve just asked you something ridiculous. (Well, I have recently and happily lost the sale rather than waste my evening taking unnecessary photos for a sling I was selling for a pittance). You have to solemnly answer these questions (oooh it’s really smooshy!). Which opens the door for buyers to ask more. And others see this and think they should also start asking strange and pointless questions and asking for 8000 different photo angles. And thus it becomes ingrained in the selling page culture.
The thing that REALLY irritates me and a lot of other sellers at the moment is that people ask these questions, sometimes even ask for your PayPal details… then completely vanish from the face of the earth. They suddenly stop commenting on your sales post. They ignore your messages. They BLOCK YOU. Sometimes this can lose you a sale if you have someone else interested as good manners dictates that the first person to ask should get it. Plus it’s just rude! How difficult is it really to simply say “I’m really sorry, I’ve changed my mind”. This has always happened to an extent of course but it is only recently become a really common occurrence.
I think I’ve been spoiled, having started wearing at a time when the market was fast and vibrant. You had to get in quick if you wanted something so questions were minimal. These days, slings can be up for sale for nearly half retail and sit there for months with no interest. But I really do think that some common sense needs to be employed, as well as good manners and resourcefulness. A lot has always been made of there being proper selling etiquette, as there should be. But what about buying etiquette? For example, a lot of the people asking these questions are mildly curious. Perhaps don’t ask unless you’re planning to actually buy and the final purchase actually depends on the outcome of the questions or photos! I know I’m going to cop some stick for even saying that but really, it’s just good sense! I’ll measure all the wraps in the world if I know I’m getting a sale out of it, but too often (and I’d say about 80% of my recent sling selling experience) they pass or go off to “have a think” or “check with my husband” (read: run for the hills.) And maybe if it’s something you can find out for yourself, stick it into Google! If you want a better idea of how a sling might look, stick it through a Google Image search. You’ll get loads of flat and action shots from there. It makes no difference to you time-wise but saves the seller a lot of hassle.
I don’t like to rant (ok, that's not strictly true, everyone loves a good rant) but nobody can say anything about the situation whilst they're selling and encountering it first hand for fear of looking like a total git. But stash selling is hard work at the moment and really doesn’t need to be. So I think it’s worth maybe giving it some thought.