Thursday, September 19, 2013

Looking Like a Ripped Beast

Not really. It's just an illusion of the pendulum but sometimes it's hard to get out of your own way. Like some cell phones, not all cameras have a nice clear image viewer in bright sunlight and can be difficult to see. I was doing a little guessing and hoping for the best or at least have a centered and focused shot. The results were interesting to say the least. Tip of the day: Make sure you wear clothing when listing.
I posted them anyway...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Local Resellers Groups

I have been selling items online for many years now both on Ebay and Craig's List. Each has their distinct advantages and disadvantages .

Ebay is a good place to sell hard to find and unusual items even common pieces such as sterling flatware, dishes, dolls and scrap gold. It exposes it to a larger established following and most of the time they will pay for their item thanks to the strict rules ebay has in place for members.

Craig's List is a good place to sell large hard to handle and ship items like furniture, bikes, and lawn mowers or find a date with a lonely "BBW". It's anonymous, quick, free and well, not that reliable when it comes to buyers showing up. Sometimes they do show, but a lot of times I end up waiting around for nothing. They don't call, cancel or even email to let me know they don't want it anymore.. That's part of the problem with Craig's List. I just accept it as part of the deal. I've been burned so many times by these empty promises I've made it policy to hold nothing for anyone. I don't care how bad they want it and if they "guarantee" they will be here.

"Puhleeeez hold it for me!! I want it! I'll come out this weekend"

"Nope, sorry. First come first serve"

What do you want for nothing right?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ebay Buyer Scam?

Scam? You be the judge...
I have sold items on Ebay since 1996. Over the years I have had users contact me wanting me to stop an auction format sale (end it early) with an offer of what they feel is a fair price. I never do. Not because Ebay doesn't permit it, but it's usually a good indication the item for sale will bring way more than the offer the user is presenting me.

It seems some of these disappointed buyers have found a clever new and very scummy way to attempt to get the item without paying full price even if it brings a higher price than they want to bid.
Here's how it works.

Say I list a painting for 50 bucks starting price. It eventually get's bid up to 175.00 and the auction ends in 18 minutes. If you've sold anything on Ebay you know sometimes the last minute of the sale is when all the action happens. Two bidders can fight over a piece down to the last 2 seconds. The deceitful high bidder will send me a message during the final hour with an apology similar to this

"Hi, I am currently high bidder on your painting. I typed in the bid box $17500 INSTEAD of 175.00 I'm at work and I can't fix it until I get home. I will only pay $175.00 that was what I wanted to pay and no more than that. I'm very sorry


What does this mean? He will be the high bidder even if it brings $400.00 or more. I can't end a sale early in the last hour but I can cancel bids IF I'm home and I open the email before the sale ends. Otherwise, he wins the item. Now I usually wouldn't think anything about someone making a mistake like this, but when it happened again with a hauntingly familiar line of bullshit, I smell a rat. Now I'm not saying that an "accident" like this can't happen twice, but in my opinion, it is unlikely and too convenient.
What if the painting brought $192.00? The winning bidder already said he was only paying $175. If I tell him no and he cancels, the back up bidder may not respond to my second chance offer. Sometimes when an item is relisted it brings less. In fear of that and possible negative feedback, I just sell it to the scam guy for his bid of $175. It's dirty.

Even though I'm not obligated to sell it at his price the buyer could get nasty about it.

I have wonder how many sellers cave into their "Oops! I'm a typo dummy" story and sell their item at the lower bid price to avoid negative feedback or the backup bidder changing their mind. 

My policy, if caught in time, is to cancel their bid and block them. I don't believe anyone is that simple. They can fix it immediately after bidding. The process is two step and ask BOTH times "your bid is" they have 2 chances to correct it. It's clear and very easy to read. If anyone else had a similar experience, I'd like to hear from you.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Thrift Store Buying Etiquette


A while back I caught up with a friend of mine to check out the some of the local yard sales and thrift stores in Hernando and Pasco County. The great thing about second hand stores, especially church oriented or ministry run industries, they recruit volunteers that have limited knowledge and at times can be completely clueless when it comes to pricing items as well as a steady stream of fresh merchandise stocked throughout the day.

It was a weekday that turned out to be one of the best days I've had in a while for the little I spent. We hit all the regular stops then went to a local charity thrift store.

At the counter was a showcase used for what they thought was the good merchandise. Things they consider high value or collectible enough to protect behind glass. In with the cheap sunglasses, old Avon perfume bottles, over priced common baseball cards and chipped plates that belong in the trash I noticed behind the counter was a bag of costume jewelry tucked in a box that had assorted gold filled or what appeared plated rings chains and rhinestone pins. I asked the clerk to see the box.

"Oh I was just getting ready to put that out"

Music to my giant floppy ears...

"Great, can I take a look?" I replied.

"I haven't had a chance to price it yet." She said.
Tip: (Here is a good time to turn on your nice guy charm that you usually waste on the hot girls at gas stations or the cute cashier at Walgreens. You know, the girls who could care less about you. Use all your powers that you've skillfully honed and developed through years of dealing with the opposite sex as a man relating to a beautiful woman...Even if she's 83 and on oxygen.

"That's ok dear, I just wanted to take a look. I like shiny objects....Maybe you can price it for me as we go if you like? I love your dress. Are those doilies on the sleeve? You smell really good. Is that maple bacon?" I said smoothly

After rolling her eyes at my cheese ball attempt at a compliment, she pulled the box out anyway.

It was a small box packed full of goodness. Now, I've been doing this long enough where I don't need a loupe to identify a gold wedding ring when it's in my hand. I can't always get the karat right, but through wear, weight, the obvious mark visible to the naked eye indicating the karat, and that distinct ringing sound a gold ring makes when it's dropped on the floor or counter gives it away 90 percent of the time. The other 10 percent I over pay for gold plate..
 If you look too hard at a piece for a long time through a loupe or showing deep interest in a item, the price can sometimes go up or  they won't even sell it to you with the excuse

"I need to look that up." It's best not to reveal your hand. You don't want to make them feel like they are making a mistake by selling it to you.

I put a brooch pin, a gold ring, some scrap bent earrings, and a bracelet that was most likely Bakelite on the counter.

"Well, what do you think for these pieces?" I asked

She shuffled them around on the counter like she was playing Checkers and said,

"Twenty five"

There was still 10 or 12 pieces of junk costume but salable.

"What about the whole box?" I said

She dumped it out on the counter, more shuffling...thinking...shuffling..."Thirty five?" she said with uncertainty.

"Ok...I'll take it." I said.

Tip: (If you find yourself in this lucky situation, don't try to negotiate it down lower for the extra 6 or 8 bucks. Asking for a lower price on something that is already dirt cheap so you can boast about it later to other dealers and friends, especially if you know you're going to make 8 or 10 times more than what you paid for it is just cheap and tacky. Pay for it and leave before some other dealer or wannabe dealer armed with Pawn Shop Reality TV or Antiques Road Show "knowledge" walks up and chimes in on how cheap it is or ask to look at it before you've even paid for it to squash the deal.)

I've had this happen. "Squashing the deal." It's frustrating and rude. Usually motivated by jealousy or complete amateur ignorance. Anyone with common courtesy understands etiquette dictates you wait your turn in silence.

I have little patience for this dirty tactic..On the very rare occasion this imposition does happen,
I will sometimes stop what I'm doing, turn and face them squarely. Stare at them directly in the eye, blank face, emotionless and silent, ignoring comments, questions, and nervous laughter until it feels so awkward and uncomfortable, they eventually drift way defeated.
(Assuming he's not 6 foot 8 with facial and neck tattoos and looks like he's out on parole...)
Or you can ignore them entirely and talk loudly over them like they aren't even there. This is equally effective.

The box yielded a few pieces of 14kt gold, and a good lot of assorted rhinestone jewelry that brought over 300 after commissions.

This is a thrift store that I donate to all the time. I give way more than I take from this store so it's nice to get it back every now and then.
To sum it up:
Keep your eyes open. Pay attention to details. Be nice. Wait your turn and respect others. If you like what they bought or have interest in it, ask in the parking lot after they leave...Even better, get there first.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Reframed Auction Results

In order to make it worth while to have an auction company pick up items I had to sell, I would sometimes include valuable items I really liked. Beautiful antiques with sentimental attachments. Pieces with fond memories and interesting stories behind them that I have had for many years. I would do this to pad the sale and distribute the cost evenly and ideally pushing the average lot price higher. ORRRR, I just needed extra cash that particular month so I hastily sold off some expensive shit that I never use and was just collecting dust.... It's one or the other.

When the sale was over and those "cherished" items bring way less than I thought they should have, I felt like punching myself in the face repeating "WHY did I sell that? WHY did I sell that!!?" That just happens sometimes. The crowd didn't want it, things fall out of fashion, one buyer wanted it really bad but no competing bidders were there to run up the bids. It's not the auctioneer's fault. That's just the business.

The good news was, thanks to all the other unusual and under appreciated lots, surprisingly the sale brought 30 percent or more than I was expecting. Pieces that should have sold for 350 brought 800. Some paintings that I offered out 2 years ago for 25 bucks brought 150. THAT is the double edged sword of the auction. Pretty sweet when duds explode.

Take the good with the bad. You will get burned on a small margin of the pieces you consign if you don't put reserves on them. You should know that going in.  Reframe it and have a price range you will be happy with after the commission and other fees are deducted.
I personally don't put a reserve on anything unless the auction house suggest it. The piece is there to be sold to the highest bidder, not to be displayed and priced like it's in a shop window at the mall. It's unfair to the auction house and the buyer. Sell it. Take your lumps or show a profit and occasionally a potential massive profit. Either way, don't look back or whine about the pieces that should have brought more.

Remember, most of the world record prices in the art world were set at auction. It dictates the market and creates excitement.

If you have something to sell, be prepared to lose or jump for joyous joy joys when that ugly painting of the sailor smoking a pipe in your grandmother's hallway brings fifteen thousand dollars at auction. (You know, the painting you wanted to dump for cash at the church craft and junk sale last year but your husband talked you into letting a competent auctioneer look at it?) Don't be that person. Get an opinion.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

10 Things You Should NOT Buy for Quick Resale


I've been doing this a long time and while a lot has changed in the business, some things over the years haven't changed much at all. One of them is dealers buying and carrying stock that is hard to move. They will often buy things just because they are old or they think they are collectible. Maybe  it was because it was very cheap and the shrewd seller told them it was valuable...(Fish on!!)... I still see these hard to sell items show up in shops and markets. Now I understand that they may have gotten them from an estate buy out or in box lots from an auction, but that doesn't mean they will sell fast and they take up valuable space in the booth.
The following are a few things I found very hard to sell
1) Platinum rim dishes from the 50's and 60's.
    This stuff was elegant and lovely during it's day. That was then. Unless you have a mint condition complete set with little or no wear on it, generally, it doesn't sell quicklyThere is little to no value in micro flashed on platinum trim and most of what is out there is single pieces or partial sets. I still get calls from people trying to sell me their dishes. Unless it's a desirable name like Tiffany     or it service for 12 with all the serving pieces, avoid it.
2) Norman Rockwell prints and calendars.
    These items were produced in the millions. They are all over the internet. If you go to a completed listing of sales on EBay, you will see lots of red. Most of it is under 10 bucks and doesn't sell.
3) Bradford Exchange limited edition plates.
    Sold in over priced shops and mail order to collectors who like their plates with Dorothy and Toto or a clown transferred on the front with a limited edition number on the back guaranteeing that their     thoughtfully machine  crafted heirloom plate is number 47,89999 out of ONLY 250,000,000,000,000,000.  Well, maybe not, but they produced these by the boat load and I've seen dealers struggle to get five bucks for        plates that originally sold for fifty.  A recent search of completed sales on EBay of just plates there were 16,368. Most unsold. When items are abundant, buy CHEAP, I mean super cheap, even better, completely avoid     them. I've passed  on these plates for 50 cents.
4) Single pieces of silverplated common flatware.
    Rogers Brothers. A name you will see on lots of silver plate. Common patterns and available in most thrift stores and antique malls can be picked up for around a quarter each. Serving pieces are a better buy if all of the     plate is intact and boxed sets with service for 8 or more in clean condition is a better investment.
5) Silverplated miscellaneous tea service pieces.
    Staying with the silver plated theme, try to avoid over paying for common single tea service pieces. An odd sugar, a plain teapot with wear through on the plate, a damaged footed tray, a less than fancy 1970s plated         waste bowl. Unless it is Victorian, covered with grape vine, cupids, or a desirable pattern, most of the odd pieces don't sell quickly. Stick with the good patterns and the big wonderful impressive shiny silver plate.
6) Beanie Babies.
   ... Glorified dog toys.
7) Rocking chairs and single dining side chairs.
    "Sittin on tha front porch huggin mah piller in Gramps ol' rocken churrrr" 
   Charming but the damn things just don't sell. I've had one rocking chair in 20 years that sold for 250 bucks only because it was a decent Mission oak chair. All of the other 1950s maple, turn of the century Shaker style,  period Victorian platform rockers or Hitchcock rockers eventually went to auction just to get rid of them. Some dealers may disagree with me, and I know a couple, but even they wouldn't buy my rocking chairs for 20  bucks. Oh the irony 
8) Fenton milk glass.
    I like Fenton art glass. Great company still in business that produces decorative hand made glass for the masses. Some of the Crest lines are very popular with collectors. However, the milk glass doesn't sell  very fast. There is tons of it out there. Rose bowls, candlesticks, console bowls and much more. If you like the milk glass, try to stick with bigger and harder to find pieces like epergnes and pitchers.
9) Movie cameras and projectors
   8 mm movie cameras, movie projectors from the 50's and 60's are hard to resell. They are not quite decorative enough to put in your office or living room. They always look like they belong in the media center or school    library. Don't confuse these common 8 mm cameras and movie projectors with the Mitchell movie cameras of the 30s and 40's. BIG difference in price and desirability.
10) Floor model sewing machines
     Often seen in yard sales and thrift store over priced. The owners like to brag how their mother used it in the 1960s and it STILL WORKS! Doesn't matter. Most of them don't bring squat. They are a piece of heavy, cumbersome, ugly furniture disguised as a disguised sewing machine.  The table top portable models like the Singer Feather weight sell for more money and much quicker than a Kenmore in a table. Even the vintage Singer treadle sewing machines with fancy open iron work base, tiger oak veneer flanked with drawers don't bring what they are worth and often less than a good table top machine.