Dos and Don'ts of eBay Shopping

Decorating by way of eBay? Here's how to get exactly what you want — without getting burned.

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Do broaden your buying horizons.
In addition to eBay USA, the company has auction sites in more than 12 other nations — from Argentina to the United Kingdom — all of which welcome international bidders (get tips on international buying). McEvoy has imported beautiful cabinets, sofas, tables, rugs and textiles from sellers as far away as China, England and Belgium. And eBay veteran Lisa Faust, of Portland, Ore., who frequently site-surfs internationally, says, "I've never had a bad sale, and communication hasn't been a problem. In fact, I think foreign sellers often try harder." Shipping can be pricey, but favorable exchange rates may make up the difference.

The site also hosts live auctions from prestigious dealers worldwide at LiveAuctions.ebay.com.

Do shop eBay's Stores.
Although eBay is famous for its online auctions, the site also supports more than 200,000 eBay Stores with very reasonable fixed prices for millions of items, from light bulbs to bedding. "Because they have such low overhead, online ma and pa merchandisers can sell their goods for close to wholesale," says Collier.

Big-name retailers such as National Geographic's NOVICA and Sears maintain eBay storefronts to unload overstock, and thousands of other sellers have turned selling outlet-store wares online — last season's Williams-Sonoma offerings, for example — into a cottage industry. What's more, eBay Stores are the place to buy art and other items directly from the artists and craftspeople, without paying a middleman.

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