It was earlier this year when Megan and I were shopping for beauty stuff at her local TJ Maxx when she grabbed a coffee mug off of a shelf and asked me if I could believe people were reselling $5 mugs for upwards of 40 bucks in secret Facebook groups and on eBay. I didn’t think much of it because while the mug was cute, I already had a cabinet full of equally cute Starbucks coffee cups and I certainly didn’t need one that was crazy misshapen by someone named Rae Dunn.
For some reason Rae Dunn came up again during our New York trip. We laughed out loud reading angry tweets from people who weren’t having any luck finding pieces at their local TJ Maxx, HomeGoods or Marshalls stores. Collecting and reselling Rae Dunn pottery has officially reached fever pitch proportions. I didn’t get what was so appealing about this farmhouse style pottery. Why are people clearing shelves, getting into arguments with other Rae Dunn hunters and even accusing employees of taking first pick at the stock before putting it out for shoppers?
There was only one way to get to the bottom of this. I had to become a Rae Dunn hunter and reseller to understand the pottery phenomenon. This is a story of what I learned along the way and why the resell game is not for me.
What is Rae Dunn?
First, a lot of people have no idea what Rae Dunn is. Rae Dunn is an artist out of California who has been making clay pottery since the early 90s. She currently has a boutique line of items but it’s the Rae Dunn by Magenta line sold nationwide that people are outrunning each other for in stores. These pieces are manufactured in China in her signature imperfect style and the most popular pieces are the ones with the large, skinny font known as Large Letters (or #LL in all those secret Facebook groups and on Instagram).
Where to Find Rae Dunn by Magenta Items
Rae Dunn by Magenta is sold only at TJ Maxx, HomeGoods and Marshalls (and other regional versions owned by the discount retailer). I’ll admit, my interest was certainly piqued after our late night New York laugh fest. I have a pretty big HomeGoods in my neighborhood. Surely, I could find a few pieces there and resell those babies for profit.
One late afternoon after running errands I stumbled upon a full shelf of Rae Dunn mugs! Jackpot! I ran back up to the front of the store to grab a shopping cart. I cleared most of the shelf and loaded my cart up with mugs that read Vacay, Relax, Sweetie, Out of Office and more. I bought 12 mugs that afternoon and walked out of the store feeling like I was going to make a million bucks.
What Are the Most Popular Rae Dunn Items
The joke was on me. The most popular Rae Dunn items are the ones with the large letter, remember? The mugs I bought had the fancier script font and was probably the reason why there were so many on the shelf that day. But, a quick search on eBay showed a few of these mugs for sale anywhere from $18 – $35. I figured there had to be a market for this particular line so I created a Rae Dunn specific Instagram account, snapped some photos and asked for $15 per mug.
I joined a few Rae Dunn Facebook groups to see what was being bought, sold and traded. I asked in a newbie group about the fancy script mugs I had bought and learned “nobody wants those.”
So what do Rae Dunn collectors want? Canisters, small oval plates, trays, mugs and anything holiday themed are by far the most popular. Always with the large letters and mostly in the traditional bone and black colors (some bowls and mugs come in various shades). There is also the Icon line and a kitschy polka dot pattern that both seem popular as well.
What are the Rae Dunn duds? If there is an abundance of Rae Dunn items on the shelf at any given time, it’s usually the dog and cat bowls and the office accessories. I personally think these items are really cute but collectors are not paying top dollar for these pieces, so leave them at the store.
Tip #1: Keep all of your receipts and keep your items organized. TJ Maxx, HomeGoods and Marshalls will give you a full refund with receipt within 30 days. Those 12 fancy script mugs were returned and are probably still sitting on a shelf.
Join the Rae Dunn Facebook Groups at Your Own Risk!
I was warned to stay away from the Rae Dunn FB groups mostly because of the strict rules and drama. But, I had product to move, so I joined four or five of them. I’ve learned that there are a lot of rules but not anything out of the ordinary. Admins are especially sensitive to people criticizing resell prices. You don’t like the asking price, move on and don’t run up a thread with 150 comments complaining about a person asking $60 for a $12.99 tray. Just don’t.
Tip #2: don’t overdo it with photos of your hauls. No one likes a shelf clearer and if you’re sharing pics of your cart filled with 10 of the same tray and 40 canisters, expect frustration to erupt especially if a person has been to four stores that day and haven’t found one piece – except another damn dog bowl.
Understanding the Rae Dunn Vernacular
Collectors and resellers seem to use a special Rae Dunn language in most of the groups and on Instagram (actually, I’m joking, I think these are common acronyms amongst any group buying and selling). Get familiar with the following.
– NFT: Not for trade
– NFS: Not for sale
– ISO: In search of
– LL: Large Lettered
– B/S/T: Buy, sell, trade
– Unicorn: that one piece you really want but haven’t been able to locate
When to Shop for Rae Dunn
I sat in my car one morning waiting for HomeGoods to open and saw two young women with carts at the ready. When we walked in, one went straight for the pottery section and the other tore off to the holiday section. I tried playing it cool pretending I was looking at placemats but who was I kidding, we were all there for the Rae Dunn.
Expect others to be there when the doors open. I promise you, you aren’t the only one looking for Rae Dunn. I walked into a store at 9:38am one day and two women had loaded up their carts already. I never saw an empty shelf so I think they just smashed and grabbed from the stock ready to be put out. This was the first day I walked away frustrated at how competitive it can get between shoppers. However, my mother-in-law had a worse experience when two ladies blocked the aisle and said “We’re claiming this! This is all ours!” This isn’t how to be a Rae Dunn hunter (or human, really).
Store employees are not allowed to hold pieces or even tell customers over the phone if there is product in the store. New shipments arrive on Tuesday or Wednesdays (varies by location) and often stores have stock in the backroom but employees will not go look for something if you ask. It’s clear that employees are fed up with the Dunn hunters.
Tip #3: Shop later in the morning but before lunch. This allows stores to restock items after hunters clear the shelves at opening (so says a former HomeGoods employee).
Where is the Rae Dunn in stores?
Where the Rae Dunn items are located at any given store will vary. Some stores will pull out a metal rack stocked with product and sit it by the front entrance but mostly it’s with like items. Mugs with mugs, canisters with canisters, dog bowls with pet stuff and holiday with holiday.
Tip #4: A Facebook member said to look for items placed upside down, hid under or behind other items and even buried in the pillow section (she claimed employees stash items there so they can purchase on their break. I’m not sure employees are ransacking the Rae Dunn before the public gets to it, but maybe they are).
Selling and Trading
Instagram, Facebook, eBay and Mecari are the most used platforms for selling and trading Rae Dunn pieces. I first used Instagram using a slew of hashtags and built a quick following yet I didn’t have much success reselling any items until I listed them on eBay. The problem with eBay is they take a portion of your profits. It’s definitely a hustle in terms of promoting what items you have and if you are willing to sell or trade. Collectors want to trade, resellers want to sell.
Tip #5: The Facebook groups might sound intimidating but I was able to resell quite a few items there. You don’t need to post your items, instead find the collectors looking for certain pieces. Someone might write that they are new to collecting mugs. Here is where you post the photo of all the mugs you’ve picked up. I promise, you will have one they want.
Tip #6: Don’t get greedy. I scored a set of polka dot mixing bowls that I saw listed on eBay for $90. If I could sell these bowls for that amount, it would make up for some other losses (see below). I posted the photo on Instagram and Facebook and quickly got several messages about price. I went for it and asked $100 for the set of bowls. Every single person passed. Do the research. Don’t rely on one eBay listing for your asking price. Search Instagram and within the FB groups for the same item and price it competitively.
Tip #7: Always, always, always indicate your asking price within your posts on FB or Instagram. Negotiations in the DMs are a hassle.
How to Ship Rae Dunn Items
Shipping is where reselling Rae Dunn went sideways for me because I lost money on every sale. Sure, USPS offers flat rate shipping boxes but the sizes don’t really work for most Rae Dunn items. Trying to calculate shipping costs via USPS, eBay and Paypal were alway a fail for me. Instead of making a million dollars reselling, I was maybe making a couple bucks on each item sold after shipping costs and materials to ensure the item isn’t broken in transit.
Tip #8: Get friendly with your local postal outlet. I was able to save a little bit in shipping materials because my local post office had extra bubble wrap and foam peanuts that they gladly gave me for free.
Is it Worth being a Rae Dunn Reseller?
The Rae Dunn resell game isn’t for me. While I love the excitement of the hunt and walking into the store with the hopes of stumbling on that one item everyone is looking for, I hate everything else about it. I don’t want to keep track of purchases and receipts, I don’t want a garage cluttered with breakable pottery, I don’t want to be a bookkeeper, I don’t want to spend my afternoons bubble wrapping everything and I don’t want to visit the post office everyday.
The extra couple of bucks I made reselling Rae Dunn is not worth my time and energy. I’d much rather pop into HomeGoods at my leisure and buy what I want for my own collection.