Little Black Bag is insanely addictive. Shopping, trading, and fun all on one site!
Written: May 22, 2012
I have been reviewing items recently that I obtained from a website called Little Black Bag and I decided it was time to review the site itself. This isn't just a shopping site. It is a unique experience! You pay a flat fee, chose one item from their gallery, and they give you two or three mystery items that add up to $100-$115 retail value. Then you trade with other members until you get the perfect little black bag for you or until one week is up, whichever comes first. You can just open a bag and ship it out right away but the allure of this website is the trading and potential for trading up to get a bag worth much more than you started with.
About Little Black Bag
This website has a large gallery of around 300 items including brand name handbags, wallets, sunglasses, jewelry of all kinds, technology cases and other small tech items, cosmetics and body care products, small decorative or unusual home items, and so much more. The site is geared toward women and everything in the gallery is for women although some home items and a few other things are unisex.
How To Use The Site
When you sign up at Little Black Bag, you decide if you want a monthly subscription for $49.95 plus $4.95 shipping or if you want to try just one bag for $59.95 and shipping. You can skip as many months as you want and cancel at any time if you subscribe.
New items are added to the gallery every Monday and a whole bunch of new stuff is added every first of the month so there's always new things to try to trade for.
After signing up, you take a quiz and choose designers that you like. I don't find that the quiz does anything as far as choosing what's best for my bag but it really doesn’t matter.
Now it's time to choose your first item. It can be anything in the gallery from a $98.00 handbag to a $10.00 lip balm. The site then generates 1-3 more items (sometimes up to 5) that add up to around $100-$115.00 retail. You can see the brand, the category of item, and the retail cost and can usually figure out what you will be getting. I play around with the first item to get the best starting bag but, if you love something, you should just snag that and not worry about the other stuff.
Once the bag is chosen and payment is recorded (You're not charged until you ship.), your mystery items will be revealed. At that point, you can simply ship your bag. But the fun really begins when you start to trade others for items you like better or that are more expensive.
I recently closed a bag (Today actually.) that started out with a $120.00 value and ended up with a $431.00 retail value. But it took a lot of work and a lot of sleepless nights offering trades, accepting offers and basically working up to what I wanted.
You can opt to ship your bag at any time within seven days after you open it. Or you can wait until the very end and let the bag expire and close on its own. At all times, you know exactly how much time you have left and can plan accordingly.
Once your bag closes, you will receive a confirmation email with a list of the items that will be coming to you and then you will get a shipping email. At that point, your credit card is charged. Your "bag" actually arrives in a white and black box with all items wrapped separately in black tissue paper and sealed with a black and white logo sticker. Handbags are in dustbags and sealed and some items are boxed. Other items are wrapped securely in bubble wrap and then wrapped up like a little present in black tissue paper.
Items are listed at their retail value. Some still sell for that while others are on sale for less elsewhere or no longer available for purchase. The site doesn't inflate the retail values but you may find a handbag retailing for $80.00 on sale for $50.00 on another site. But even that price is more than the whole bag so I honestly don't think you can lose even if you're horrible at trading or just want to jump on and snag a few things and ship the bag.
Navigation, Shipping, and Returns
Navigation is easy online and by cell phone. You can choose to see items that are new first, list the gallery items from high to low priced or low to high priced, or look at certain categories or brands. Every item has a brand name that can be purchased in stores or online. There is nothing off label or generic. Steve Madden, Betsey Johnson, Disney Couture, Cargo Cosmetics, Big Buddha, Zad, Gorjana, Robert Rose, Street Level, R&EM, and Melie Bianco are just a few of the many, many brands sold on this site and new ones are coming onboard all the time. There are no seconds or used items. Everything is brand new straight and tagged from the manufacturer. However, now and then a marked or defective item will get through the system and to you. That is always very quickly rectified.
Everything has at least one photo and a brief description. I think the photos could be better. While they do show the item, it's hard to gauge what earrings or a necklace look like on a person even with the measurements given. The bags are shown on a shadow mannequin but still, it's tough to get a good feel of the size. I also would prefer more interior photos of handbags and a little more info about the interiors.
Next to each item is the retail value which is crossed out. You go by that value when you trade. For instance a $16.00 pair of earrings usually won't be traded for a $80.00 handbag. You can offer several items for one pricier item and accept offers for several items for your one item. It's truly a game of strategy if you are trying to get the most bang for your buck. I barely sleep when I have a bag open. I just trade and wheel and deal until the week is over. It pays off but it can be tiring!
You will get an email every time you are offered a trade if you check that option. I HIGHLY suggest you do. I keep my browser open and can tell immediately when a trade comes in because the number changes on the tab. You will also receive an email when someone accepts your trade. You can check in via your cell phone and make trade offers any time as well.
Shipping is a flat $4.95. Tax is charge in NY and CA. I don't believe it is charged anywhere else.
You can return any item you don't like for either the retail value in your next bag or a prorated refund. That is, if you return a $60.00 necklace, you can opt to have $60.00 worth of products added to your next bag or you can get a refund based on how many items you had in your bag and what percentage of the amount the necklace was. I never returned anything for a refund and I definitely feel you get a better deal returning for bag credit, if you plan to ever open another bag.
Now and then you will receive something defective. I received a bag that had small spots on the suede. I contacted customer service and they offered me full credit on my next bag (without having to send the item back) or a prorated refund. I took the credit. Customer Service is exceptional via email or phone. They will go the distance to make sure you are happy. Some things things do arrive damaged or looking different than the photos but CS will rectify any issues for you.
When I heard of Little Black Bag, I though it was ridiculously expensive especially considering you only get to pick one item and they pick the others. I didn't get the concept of trading and I didn't understand what the site was about. Slowly though, as my friends posted photos of their bags and talked about their experiences, I caved.
And I have been obsessed ever since.
I usually choose either something I love and plan to keep no matter what or something mid range so I can get a few decent items to start my bag. I then immediately begin sending out trade offers. One trade offer goes to everyone who has the item you want to trade for and they can choose to accept or decline your offer.
I always send out lots of trade offers and the minute one is accepted, send out more. I also will take whatever trades I feel are good and decline ones I don't want.
The first time I opened a bag, I had no idea what I was doing. I chose a handbag I liked and was given two other items. I traded around and even ended up trading my original handbag for a pricier one but I really didn't get it at all. I liked trading but didn't seem to be doing well at it!
That bag was the one that came with a slightly spotted suede handbag. The issue was immediately rectified and I didn't have any issues or complaints. And I had an excuse to open a new bag with my credit applied and do better than the first time which I did. Having an additional amount of product added to a new bag helps with trading and gives more options which is why I will only return items I don't like or that may not be as I expected for bag credit.
I have since purchased three more bags and have had no issues. I am getting to be a pro at trading and my last bag was the biggest one yet with four name brand handbags, Cargo cosmetics, and name brand jewelry. It was exhausting because I worked hard to get the items but also rewarding. I am so excited for the box to get here! And the cool thing is, if I don't like something I chose once I actually see it, I can return it for credit or a refund so really there is no risk involved. I do have to pay for return shipping if I simply don't like an item but not if something is defective. So far, I liked everything and never returned something because I didn't like it. I only had the issue of the spotted bag. However, lot of my friends return items that they don't like as much as they thought they would and are promptly given credit or a refund.
Lastly, there is a section on the site that allows you to see who is trading what. It's called the "News" section. That will show recent trading activity of people as well as who opened new bags and what they have in their bags. You can vote on anyone's bag telling them which items you feel they should keep and which they should trade and you can follow your friends or anyone you want to see what they're doing and what their bags are shaping up like. If you invite friends and they buy a bag, you will get a code for an item retailing at up to $25.00 in your next bag. I love that perk!
Little Black Bag is what you make of it. If you just want to get some discounted products and save a few bucks, it can be that website. If you want to have fun trading with other women and seeing what treasures you can snag, it's that website. If you want to dedicate yourself to building a huge bag filled with great products that far exceed the original cost and have the time and dedication to watch the site everyday as often as possible, it's that site as well.
I love the site and will be back. I have never gotten less than my money's worth even when I looked up items on the net that were selling for discounted prices. I have been able to snag some coveted Disney Couture and Betsey Johnson pieces that are no longer available and I have gotten gifts that I could never afford for people otherwise.
The site has a ways to go as far as complete quality control as now and then people do get items they are marked or slightly defective but customer service rectifies that immediately. Photos could be better and more plentiful and shown against a real person for comparison (or a mannequin). Otherwise, this site is just too much fun and too addictive to not try it. You can buy a gift card for yourself or someone else for the $49.95 price and they can try it out with no obligation to join. I bought my sister one for her birthday and she caught on quickly. She was able to get a beautiful Kenneth Cole leather and silver watch, a gorgeous large Nila Anthony Color Block Tote and a cute Big Buddha Cross Body Bag. I couldn't have afforded any of them let alone all of them for her! Plus she had fun and is going to open a new bag now!
I give this unique website 4 stars. It will only be getting better with time and the issues with quality control - which are minor - will probably be resolved. Even if they aren't, you can always get a replacement or a refund so there is no risk. Have fun!