Selling replacement dinnerware has many factors involved in setting a piece or pattern's “retail value.” Just as a car dealership is generally able to get a much higher resale price for a used vehicle than an individual could, selling replacement china has the same economic principles.

A used car's value is based on overall condition, mileage, reliability, brand name and consumer demand. The better the condition (nothing is broken and there are no major repairs in its history which is true for the car OR the china in this example), the lower the mileage (how often was the car driven/china used – general wear & tear), the more reliable the vehicle (how durable is the china), the brand or maker (manufacturer) AND its model (pattern) and how many people are actually looking to purchase that particular car (china pattern and/or particular piece) ALL go into determining its overall resale retail value.

If you were to sell your car, chances are VERY good that you will get A LOT less than a car dealership would get – the dealership has invested tons of money into building a client list and advertising. They will have more “traffic” – that is, a dealership has more potential buyers than any one individual.

A car dealership has also established itself as an EXPERT. People know that when they buy from a reputable dealer, the will get the EXACT car that is promised in the EXACT shape that it is advertised to be in. If there are issues, the consumer KNOWS that they can go back to the dealer to handle any issues that may have been overlooked. All car dealerships must adhere to some type of limited warranty, lemon laws and the like. Also, a consumer knows that they have not only purchased a car from the dealership, but along with that they now have a relationship with that dealership – a place that they can return to again and again for on-going maintenance. These two points are generally the reasons why most people will pay premium prices to a dealer when purchasing a used car.

A consumer that purchases a vehicle from an unknown individual generally has little or no recourse if the car was either intentionally OR unintentionally misrepresented. Usually the only protection a consumer would have is to bring a civil lawsuit against the seller.

In the China Replacement resale market, these same points hold true – people are willing to pay more to a company that stands behind their inventory, offers no-hassle return policies and has a standardized condition grading system.

China Replacement Firms that sell “full price, first quality” dinnerware have inspected the dinnerware and have certified EACH AND EVERY piece to be in as close to BRAND NEW condition as is physically possible based on the age, scarcity and durability of that particular piece.

These firms also know what each manufacturer's “seconds marks” (defects, flaws, irregularities) look like and will NEVER sell any “second” quality piece at “first” quality pricing.

Oh Goody, my set or item is selling for TONS of money on eBay and/or Replacements, Ltd!!!!

MAYBE, but possibly not – you cannot ascertain the actual selling price of something from the asking price!!!

MOST replacement dinnerware does NOT sell (on eBay or elsewhere) for more than what the leading China Replacement Retail Establishments are asking. That said China Replacement Firms will price their items based on the number of clients they have for a particular pattern, how many total pieces they have currently on hand for each particular piece type and THEIR realized consumer demand for EACH piece.

The eBay marketplace however, fluctuates madly; generally valuing items on the overall consumer demand and the item's perceived “collectability”.

As an example, a pattern that was only produced for one year may bring MUCH higher prices on eBay than a China Replacement Firm would charge as they may have none or only a handful of registered clients – they may not even have much, if any pieces, in stock of that particular pattern.

Additionally, pieces that are in stock with high retail prices ARE NOT NECESSARILY “flying off the shelves.” It is highly probable that some higher priced serving pieces (as well as place setting pieces) have been in their inventory for YEARS – with only a handful (if that even) of actual completed SALES.

When researching what “your set is worth.” It is important to understand the difference between what current eBay prices are ASKING and what the pieces have ACTUALLY sold for. MANY, MANY auctions and Store Listings end with NO buyers. MANY Store listings end up selling for a “Best Offer” which can sometimes be CONSIDERABLY less than the seller's original asking price.

As in the general retail market, the Dinnerware resale market has plummeted as well. It does not make sense to value your China based on ANY sales prior to the past two or three months, as prices fluctuate wildly based on the current economic climate. MANY items are CURRENTLY valued at 50% LESS than they sold for just one or two years ago.

An item is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it, on any particular day and at any one particular location. Not one cent more and not one cent less.

A good rule of thumb HAD BEEN that a seller with a GOOD online reputation could get 50% to 75% of retail China Replacement prices on eBay.

In THIS market, the general rule of thumb is that a seller, who is willing to run MULTIPLE auctions or put items in their “Store”, can hope to get 25% to 30% of retail prices for their dinnerware.

Because it takes longer to “move their inventory,” sellers are getting hit with more initial fees and higher final fees. Sellers are also sitting on their inventory longer and thus may come up against storage space issues.

It generally costs a seller about 12% – 17% of the final purchase price in fees. Once you add additional costs for shipping supplies, the extra pictures required and the time involved in selling dinnerware; the fees to sell an item are about 20%.

Why Can't I Just Sell It Myself on eBay?

You can, OR you could employ a Trading Assistant. HOWEVER, either way, you will not get your money all at once. Selling an entire set of dinnerware at once on eBay is A VERY BAD IDEA. As the quantity of items you are selling increases, your average selling prices per piece will DECLINE DRAMATICALLY.

For one reason, MOST people are shopping to REPLACE broken pieces – VERY FEW eBay buyers think to themselves – “oh I think I want to buy a whole new set of china today”. Consumers purchase BRAND NEW sets at Department Stores and Retail Outlets.

Additionally: “Shipping 50+ pieces of china is a COMPLETE NIGHTMARE.” BELIEVE ME – I KNOW.

In order to actually get anywhere CLOSE to the best prices on eBay, you would need to split out EACH and EVERY piece type and sell them individually.


You should sell the dinner plates and the higher priced place setting pieces individually, but group together 2-4 piece sets of the lesser demand pieces.

When listing each item you need to accurately measure each piece and describe ANY and ALL flaws. You will need to take AT LEAST one picture of each item (to get higher prices, multiple pictures are usually a necessity).

Once you have started splitting your set into small sets you will quickly see that the “better pieces” will sell first. You will most likely be left with the lower priced items – the small bread plates, the cereal bowls and the cups and saucers. The creamer and sugar bowl will also be difficult to sell; however the teapot and/or coffee pot will sell almost immediately.

After each sale, eBay and PayPal will take their piece of the pie (eBay has now BANNED off-line payment methods.) You will need to either accept PayPal, have your own merchant account and accept credit cards directly or participate in another “eBay accepted” on-line payment solution (they do NOT accept Amazon, Yahoo or Google payment solutions.)

Next, you will need to safely package and ship each item. You will need a LOT of bubble wrap, packing peanuts and packaging tape. Just as an FYI, if you use newspaper you will NOT have a repeat buyer and most likely the buyer will trash your detailed seller ratings and feedback. eBay uses both your Detailed Seller ratings and Feedback ratings to not only determine your fees, but also where your item ends up in a “best match” search result (near the top of the list or buried on page 14 of the returned found set) and whether or not eBay will even allow you to list new items. Welcome to the new eBay – selling just got a WHOLE LOT harder!!

You can always contact a Trading Assistant who can handle all the eBay headaches, BUT a Trading Assistant typically charges a 40% commission on the FINAL selling price PLUS all the fees. As an example, if you sell a $100 item on eBay yourself, you will probably end up paying out around $20 in expenses and fees. If you have a Trading Assistant sell it for you, you will pay the Trading Assistant $40 and will also be charged $12 to $17 in fees. REMEMBER, this $100 item may well be “worth” anywhere from $200 to $400 retail.

Set Realistic Expectations for Yourself

So now that you have decided you want to sell your dinnerware set, you need to take a realistic look at what your set is worth. First off, check out on-line what the RETAIL price would be – NOW FORGET THAT NUMBER!!!

Seriously, or you will beat your head against the wall.

Check out the COMPLETED auctions on eBay and see what your stuff is ACTUALLY selling for. Items in RED did NOT sell. Pay attention to the total number of bids and how many visitors looked at the successful listings. This gives you an idea of what the ACTUAL demand for the items tend to be. DO NOT use the China Replacement Firms completed auctions to get a feel for market prices. There are retail prices on eBay too – don't be fooled into thinking you could get close – you can't.

If NOTHING comes up when you search, that could be a GOOD thing OR a BAD thing. It is very hard to predict.

When there are completed listings check and see what the overall success rate is. If only 2 out of 20 or more listings sold, that is generally VERY BAD. Low sell through rates are usually an indication of low market demand. ALSO, it is REALLY important to note what selling format the majority of the items that sold were listed under. If the majority of the items that sold were out of eBay stores that usually indicates low demand and slow turnover.

Here's a little secret – MOST sellers put items in their stores only AFTER an item was unsuccessful at auction.

Now, you need to decide how you are going to sell it:

  • Put it all up on Craigsist and hope… if you sell it for super cheap, it will eventually sell. When I say super cheap, I'm talking LESS than $1 per piece!!!
  • Sell it yourself on eBay – take that plunge, roll up your sleeves and start listing. You PROBABLY can sell the good stuff, but get ready to sell it piece by agonizing piece.
  • Have a Trading Assistant sell it and pay you as it sells (most Trading Assistants take possession of your stuff – so at least it will be GONE). You pay through the nose for this service.
  • Sell it as a box lot at auction – local auction houses may take your set and try to auction it off. Some auction houses will allow you set a reserve minimum price – but many will not. Take your chances and you will also have to pay the seller's premium (this premium is typically 35% to 40% of total sales).
  • Have a yard sale. Be prepared to sell for super, super cheap. Yard Sale people DO NOT CARE that the set was “handed down from your Great Grandmother and it came over on the Mayflower.”
  • Sell it at a swap meet or Flea Market. You could probably get a little higher premium (not much though) over a yard sale, but you will also need to rent the space.
  • Sell to a China Replacement Firm. You will need to contact them, package and ship the pieces that they are buying (more than likely they will NOT buy everything) and AFTER they have inspected your items you will get a check mailed to you in 10-14 days. DO NOT EXPECT to get the full amount of their offer price unless your pieces are in EXCEPTIONAL condition. You will be left with the items they were not purchasing at all and if you want your “rejected” stuff back, you will have to pay for the return shipping.
  • Sell it to a local China Replacement Dealer. Generally the Dealer will come to your house /storage unit, pay you cash, wrap it up and take it away. It usually takes an hour or so to inspect and pack your stuff. The Dealer will generally ask you to count the number of each piece type you have, the manufacturer and pattern (if you know what it is) and the overall condition. Most Dealers will make you a ballpark offer over the phone or via email based on YOUR descriptions. However, once they actually come to see your set, they will grade the condition themselves and will give you a final purchase price based on the ACTUAL overall condition, correct piece types and what they are ultimately able to sell the set for themselves.

As you can see there are several ways to sell your china and dinnerware, the choice is yours based on how much time and effort YOU are willing to put into the actual selling process.

Source by Deborah Henry