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The Ecstasy of Making Lowball Offers on Grailed

Everyone loves a good deal, but for these Grailed buyers, savings for high-end secondhand goods is just icing on the cake. Because for them, there’s no better way to blow off some steam and incite a little harmless chaos in the process

Last Tuesday, on a day when he didn’t even have time to eat because of too many Zoom meetings, 27-year-old Kyle sat back on his couch and opened up the Grailed app on his phone. If he was feeling anything, it was a need to decompress by way of inciting a flick of chaos.  

After a few minutes of scrolling through the infinite wall of square tiles of designer clothes in his Grailed feed, Kyle found something he wasn’t even really looking for. “Honestly,” he tells me, “the last thing I needed was another pair of pants.” And yet, there he was, staring deeply at an image of Comme Des Garçons wide-leg trousers that typically retail for $1,000.

On Grailed, however, someone was selling the same pants, albeit not brand new, for about a quarter of that price. Kyle, though, was looking for even more of a bargain. And so, he took a sip of his grapefruit-flavored LaCroix, thought about what he would eat for dinner — maybe sushi? — and then considered the amount that Grailed suggested to be a reasonable offer ($212). But that also was too rich for his blood; he was thinking of something closer to $100, which is why, possessed by a swirl of retail Jokerfication, he tapped out the numbers 1-2-2 on his phone. “I knew I wasn’t going to get them for $122,” Kyle says. “But if I did, that would have been pretty dope.”

Of course, on Grailed, users get to choose the price of the clothes they want to sell. But as with Kyle and the Comme Des Garçons trousers, there’s also an option for buyers to submit offers that the seller can decide whether or not to accept — a negotiation process that ideally begins with a good-faith bid.

What, though, constitutes an initial good-faith overture? Based on the Grailed subreddit, anything above 80 percent of the listed price is deemed “reasonable.” But as one seller tells me, in his experience, most of the buyers on Grailed are like Kyle. “They lowball you, and when I mean lowball, I don’t mean 80 percent of the original listing,” he says. “I’m talking closer to 60 percent.” 

In Grailed’s defense, they have implemented a fix that’s theoretically supposed to prevent people from unleashing a barrage of profoundly lowball offers — now, if you try to submit an offer below 60 percent of the full value of the item, the app allegedly won’t allow it. Still, Tyler, 22, who spends a few hours a week firing off offers he knows are so minuscule that they won’t be accepted, tells me that lowballing is just part of the game, and that he doesn’t “understand why sellers get so mad.” “They don’t have to accept it if they don’t want to,” he argues. He also happily admits that most of the time, he has no intention of buying the clothes anyway. “It’s just something I like to do when I’m bored,” he says. 

Sellers could opt to avoid dealing with buyers like Tyler and Kyle by turning off the option to receive offers, leaving only the option to “buy now” at full price. But that strategy isn’t typically recommended if you want to make sales on the app. “I’d say leave offers on,” advises redditor _SHWEPP_ on the Grailed subreddit. “Every platform and every ‘hobby’ that involves buying/selling is prone to people who lowball. Most of my listings have upward of 60-100 likes, and I get awful lowballs almost daily. However, there are times where someone offers a fair price (ex. 5-10 percent off), which is usually when I make a sale. Very rarely do I get people who buy it now at full price.”

The lowball offer also isn’t just a shitpost of sorts, or an excuse to blow off some steam; it sometimes works, too. One time, Kyle tells me, he sent a guy a “not even half the price” offer for a leather Celine jacket that was going for $2,000. “He took it,” Kyle says, still shocked to this day. Beyond the surprise, it put a serious hurting on Kyle’s bank account as well, since he wasn’t planning on spending that kind of money with the proverbial push of a button. It was bad enough financially that he decided to take a break from the app for a while — his propensity for lowballing left to Tyler and others like him.

Kyle could only stay away for so long, though. So now he’s back and ready to lowball the shit out of everyone in his path — not just because he can, but because being cheap never felt so good.