Sunday, March 11, 2012

"It was one of those March days

when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade." ~Charles Dickens

Yes, the extremes of spring...and that brings me to my thoughts this week...the extremes of pricing in the "secondhand" world. I said I would periodically give you some insight into this business. Well, my new issue of Country Living came, and I always flip to the appraisal section, and this month I see this...first, the person bought it on ebay...does the $65 include shipping...I find that no one seems to factor in shipping when buying online...and then the appraiser says it is worth $100. I just simply feel like this...Those of us in the antique/vintage/retro world are faced with pricing issues after every buying trip. How to price an item to sell, but how to gain some profit for that item...it is no different than an American artisan trying to sell his or her work and still make some money...I tend to go with the "I got a buy, you get a buy." This still needs to fit into the business venue...wholesale prices should be calculated on...the cost of the item...the overhead...the profit...then consider the retail price.

If you notice, JC Penney is getting rid of the sales gimmicks, the .99 as in $10.99, and flaunting it. In the antique world, the phrase is "can you do better?" And, in many co-ops and some shops, retailers raise the initial price so that it looks like they are giving the consumer a buy. A flea market may be another level of buying, but, even so, those people had to pack and fill their vehicles to head out in the early morning mist to sell. I still think, price it right within reason...let it sell.People use ebay as a guide for pricing, but any auction is really based on unrealistic prices...what one person is willing to pay may be totally out of the realm of reason. I call that person a "statue of liberty" bidder...won't put the card down...if anyone watches that program, Storage Wars, the bidding war is evident even if blown out of proportion for reality TV. The same with Antique Roadshow...I would love to see how many of the appraisals turn into cash. Yes, there are always some winners, but in the big picture, what is the final count?

Then, in the spirit of American capitalism, we have the make a buck at any costs. For example, I purchased a large collection of flower frogs. In the grouping, is "Draped Lady." This is a Cambridge Glass piece, and a 2001 price puts the value at $60. On ebay she averages $75 plus shipping costs which run $12-$15. So, there you have a price that is already way over the old book price.Not to mention some have the Imperial Glass version listed as 1920s Cambridge. And, the reproduction cycle continued...Mirror Images of Michigan and Summit Glass of Ohio manufactured Draped Lady in colors that Cambridge never did, and then you see that listed on ebay as "rare" because the seller never really did his or her research. Here is the Imperial glass mold...although it is hard to see, the base is more of a "ribbed" base.
Bottom line...buy something because you love it...not because it is worth X amount of dollars. If you are a retailer, if you make money, why not price it to sell? The super high prices are scaring away the new buyers...this economy does not tolerate speculation...and hedge funds are not just Wall Street words. I know many "dealers" who think they are going to make it big on some piece of pottery or glass. There are great buys these days in the antique world...I can offer Draped Lady for half of her book value, and even more off of the ebay price.

Remember these words from 19th century writer Oscar Wilde that sadly are even more relevant in the 21st century: "These days man knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Today's blog is a true as true can be! The White Whale adheres to your formula for pricing. When I get a buy, my customers get an even better buy. I hope this message is widely read, it could help the market in these tough times!