what this blog is all about...

Do you sell stuff on-line? Interested in it? Well, this blog might be for you. Don't expect lots of news stories or other stuff you can easily get. I want to give you the ugly side...the practical, the-stuff-they-don't-warn-you-about side of on-line retailing for the small seller.

I've been selling on-line for about 9 years. And I'm happy to share some of my experience and knowledge with anyone who has the patience to trudge their way through my random ramblings!

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

So...where do you get your stuff? The Classic Version

In our last show, we discussed the wonders wholesalers can bring to your bottom line, but I kind of left you on the edge regarding how to find them.

Well...stay on that edge. I'm gonna get to that eventually, but not now.

This "Classic Version" is a bit of help for those who want to find those wonderful (and valuable) antiques and collectibles that still bring in decent money on auction sites (usually eBay).

Now, by "collectible" I am not talking about those Franklin Mint thingies your granny has hanging up in her kitchen. If the item has the word "collectible" on the box, that probably means a lot of people collect them (or are gonna collect them because of that word on the box) and therefore are usually not of significant value.

"Collectible" for us can mean anything from Fenton glass pieces to monaural amps.

OK, now the fun part...sources.

1. Garage sales. At one point, these were my sole source for items. Then ebay started being used by garage sale holders to price their items...and garage sale finds (worth buying) nosedived. But they are coming back in line, especially in this economy when families are doing what they can to make a buck.

Hitting garage sales takes planning, and empty vehicle and a full tank of gas. Oh, and lots of singles and quarters. I personally don't try to barter prices; it takes too long and wastes valuable time hitting other sales.

2. House sales. These are the like garage sales, but usually have a lot more stuff...like entire households. These are usually listed separately from garage sales. Be warned, though: some people call their dinky garage sale a "house sale" to bring in the dealers (like you).

3. estate sales. Sometime called tag sales here in the Cleveland area. No difference really. These used to be fantastic ways to get items, albeit at somewhat higher prices (but also somewhat higher quality).

These have recently, though, become a bit of a scam. For example: I hold a tag sale and price the good stuff kind of high. I sell some (but not a lot) and then offer the people I'm holding the sale for some amount of money to take the rest of the stuff off their hands. I then turn around and sell it myself in some antique or resale shop I often do business with. Most people don't realize that crappy toybox in the attic is worth hundreds and their precious collection of fake Hummels (which they think are worth a fortune) is worth about a buck 25. So it's easy to fool them. Sad...but that's reality.

4. auctions. Ah...the gods smiled down with happiness when they created auctions. I have been to a couple of hundred auctions and never ONCE left without at least one thing that made the trip worthwhile. NEVER.

5. Personal ads. these are the "items for sale" listings in your paper. I have had about zero luck with these. They usually want to much and are selling stuff not worth much anyway. Or (usuallt the case) they bought something they can't return and want to try to get most or all of their money back. I don't recommend these unless you REALLY know what you are buying.

Maybe I'll get some time to concentrate on each individual one and give a few pointers on each.

Or maybe I'll just go to sleep. Eh....who knows.

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