ISSUE 35: October 19, 2007
Yard Salers: Issue 35! More on Dickering Down & The Lost Rinker Files: Oct. 19, 2007
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The "dickering down" piece we ran in the last issue seems to have struck a chord with people. I got some great letters and strategies from folks which I'll be sharing in this issue.
The books I got from the aforementioned realtor windfall (see the last two issues in the Back Issues area of the Yard Salers web site, at http://www.yardsalers.net/backissues.asp/) continue to be the gift that keeps on giving. The second lot of old literature books, this one a circa 1902 leather gilt Collier poetry series, with color frontispieces, went for $50. So not including the individual books I've sold off, I've made $126 on those two sets alone.
As I was wrapping and packing up the leather books, I paused to gently flip through them and at least glance at each color illustration. The distressed old leather and gilt text block made me really nostalgic for these books and feel like you just can't get as good quality anymore, without of course paying thru the nose for it.
One that made me wonder if I should have kept it was the Lord Byron volume with a beautiful portrait of him. Can you tell I was an English major? As such I sometimes feel an obligation to at least be passingly familiar with every major literary figure. And although I can't say that I am, I can report I faithfully read "Sally Forth" in the comics section every day.
But has every item from my free estate lot garnered me big bucks? No, and I think that goes to show that just as we hope to get bargains on eBay, sometimes we are the ones giving the bargains. My lot of 5 D-Day books and post cards, one signed by the author, went for only $9.95. On the other hand, it went to a New York firefighter, so I can feel good about the sale.
For a long time I've been wanting to share with you notes from a speech Harry Rinker, the "Whatcha Got" radio show host and collectibles expert, gave at an eBay Live. Now, in this issue, I can finally do that...read the second article in this issue to see what took so long.
So without further ado, let's get to it!
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In This Issue:
1) Dickering Down: Readers Share Stories and Strategies
2) The Lost Rinker Files: Collectibles on eBay
3) Reader Mail: How to Tell the Value of a Coin (or Just About Anything)
1) Dickering Down: Readers Share Stories and Strategies
We got some excellent reader mail about dickering down.
I'll let them speak for themselves. Our first letter is from Maggie:
RE: Dickering down. EXCELLENT point that you have to be sensitive about doing that. I was once at a sale where there were a lot of 25 cent items. This old geezer holds up one and asks the woman, "Would you take fifteen cents for this?"
A psych prof once suggested that when negotiating, have the exact money you want to offer in your hand and say, "Can I GIVE you X dollars for this?" By saying, "Can I GIVE you," it frames it in a more positive context and the visual cue of seeing the money is more likely to sway the potential seller.
Two years ago I was at a sale where a large obnoxious man was badgering the seller over a box of books. I got closer and saw that it was a box of 1960's kids series books -- in fact all 34 books in the series. The woman had a price of 75 dollars on the box and he was telling her that no one sells books at a garage sale for more than a quarter each, while holding out a ten dollar bill to her.
Fortunately I had enough cash. I walked up, smiled sweetly, handed the seller 75 dollars and picked up the box. The jerky guy freaked out -- I guess I would too if I saw someone walking away with 3000 dollars worth of books that could have been mine -- LOL. He told the woman he'd give her 75 dollars, but the seller said, "Sorry buddy, they're sold."
He followed me out to the car cursing and screaming at me. Pennywise and pound foolish. If you're already getting a fabulous deal, do you really need to deal down more? Doesn't the original seller have a right to get something as well? I'm not saying that if a seller drastically underprices something that you have to say, hey these go on ebay for a hundred times that price. But in that situation I think it's the ethical thing to pay the asking price.
Thanks for the thought-provoking newsletter.
And thank you for the thought-provoking letter! You said it better than I did. I totally agree with all your points. That is so funny about the geezer offering 15 cents for the 25 cents items. I mean..really! ;)
And what a great story about the children's series books. Good for you for stepping in and doing the right thing..which also turned out to be the profitable thing for you. Those books may also have had an emotional attachment for the seller..who knows they may have been his, hid dad's, or grand-dad's.
Do you happen to remember what they were, or can you say?
[I heard back from Maggie again after that e-mail, and got an even better letter. To wit:]
The series was the Tom Swift Jr series in the pictorial hardcovers. They were pristine. As you probably already know, with those 50's and 60's series books the last few in the series is where the price really starts to jump, with the book usually going for big money. I have a card in my wallet with all of the most popular series, how many are in the series and the names of the last few titles in the series. That's saved me a few times when I came across a box of series books where the per book price was high -- once it was five dollars a book but the highest numbered book in the box was like 23 -- and the series actually went to 37 so I would have been lucky to break even at that price. Another time I found a box with 11 books which didn't look promising -- but my cheat sheet said the whole series was only 11 books.
Overall the prices on series books are down in the past couple of years. I think part of that is market saturation, part the economy, and part the nemesis of vintage children's book resellers: the dreaded REPRINT.
Two series that have always done very well, Cherry Ames and Chip Hilton have both been reprinted recently, driving prices way down. HOWEVER the last few books in both series will still do OK, and Chip Hilton Hungry Hurler and Cherry Ames Ski Nurse, the final books in each series are still doing well.
Other high-ticket series like Mushroom Planet, Maud Hart Lovelace's books, and the Me and Caleb books have met a similar fate. I sold a copy of Emily of Deep Valley last week on Amazon for 11 dollars. Four years ago I sold two lesser condition copies for over $250 each. Me and Caleb was an easy 60 to 90 dollar sell with Me and Caleb Again an effortless 100 or more. I was fortunate to hear of the potential reprinting before it happened and was able to unload my copies before the drop.
Sorry to be so long-winded -- I'm home sick today. My point is the importance of PRE-researching what you consider your areas of expertise and continually RE-researching. You should have a reasonably clear idea of what an item would potentially sell for on the venues you use (ebay, amazon, etc.) so you know how much you can pay and still make a reasonable profit. That's where "dickering down" comes into play.
It was easy to hand that seller 75 dollars. I KNEW that was a high dollar series (though I really didn't think it was 3k high; that was just good market and good timing). It's much harder when you find something more risky. Sometimes you simply have to take an educated guess and go with a gut feeling.
There are some series books that you almost have to PAY the buyer to take. Had the books been a series I didn't know about I probably would have made a lowball offer or just walked away.
A few times I've asked the seller if they could hold the books while I went to the atm -- and also make a quick stop by a computer to look up the prices. Once I found a 17 volume set of the Oxford English Dictionary at a Library sale. I'd sold a compact 2 vol version of the OED a few months previously for around 200 dollars. Of course this was a different version and not the most recent version. They wanted 40 dollars. A woman ahead of me offered 20 but the girl said they never discount at the preview sale.
I asked if they could hold the set for a few minutes while I made sure it was what we wanted. Then I hit the library's public access computer and checked online -- saw this set was going for 400 to 500 dollars. I was just writing the check when the other lady came back and said she'd take them for 40 dollars. Lucky for me she wasn't quicker with that offer.
The book business has changed immeasurably in the ten years I've been selling books on ebay (and later Amazon). For those who don't stay flexible, keep current of the markets, and improve their skills, they are getting bulldozed into oblivion by those who have.
I was very lucky to fall into this business. I got started on ebay after watching Suze Orman on Oprah talking about decluttering. I'd bagged up about a ton of stuff I never used and had literally already put in in the big trash totter outside when I heard an NPR [National Public Radio] piece on ebay.
The lady mentioned an item that I'd put in one of the bags. So I went to ebay and started looking around. THANK HEAVEN for Hefty trash bags LOL. When my husband got home he helped me retrieve all the stuff from the trash and the bags were still intact. For three months I sold all that stuff and made about 700 dollars. When the bags were empty I stopped.
A few months later our parish had a used book sale and were were shopping. I found a book just like one I'd sold on ebay for 30 dollars and showed it to my husband then put it back on the table. I started to walk away then it literally hit me like a ton of bricks -- well DUH I could BUY this copy and sell it on ebay. Then I started looking around thinking "I wonder what else would sell on ebay?" The rest is history as they say.
I'm really glad that I started on ebay when the learning curve wasn't so steep. I think it's much harder for new sellers now -- and the high fees make it hard to try out new niches.
I'm trying out your real estate agent idea later today.
Here is my second reply to Maggie. I want to mention first she asked me to stress the need "to be current with your research -- the market for books and I'm sure certain collectibles can change quickly and so many vintage kids books are coming back in print lately." Very true.
She also added she was not trying to say it is never a good idea to dicker down...of course there are times when it's perfectly acceptable to negotiate. It may even be expected at many a sale, I would add.
Great info on the series books! I love the trick about going to the atm, and then looking up the books on a computer..lol. Also, more and more people are traveling with a wifi enabled laptop. I asked a friend about this, saying wasn't it hard to find a spot with a connection, and he said that no, for him, he was finding more and more places with connections. This, of course, is going to vary a lot from area to area, esp. urban and rural areas.
I didn't know that about the last books in a children's series being more valuable. I haven't done that much with those, but I may look into it more. If you are into that you may also want to read the bookthinker newsletter (www.bookthink.com) -- Craig has written a lot about Chip Hilton just to name one.
Also I love your trash bag story..priceless! Funny that you heard Suze Orman speak to give you the idea bec. she spoke at the last eBay convention, where I wrote a piece about her talk for AuctionBytes. She's a great speaker.
Here's a link to the story I wrote about Suze Orman for AB: "Don't Get FICO'd: Taking Control of Your Finances with Suze Orman at eBay Live":
I am eager to hear how/if the realtor strategy works for you..I'm putting more feelers out too.
Best wishes..thanks again for writing!
I received another letter from a reader, but I am still awaiting word from him as to whether it's OK to run it. So I think we'll end the reader mail exchange for this issue here. Even though it's only one letter...it was long enough!
I'd still like to hear from more readers as to what your experiences are with dickering down. Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll run them in future issues.
Julia's Make Money Selling Kids' Clothes on eBay ebook has been updated for 2007! Now 42 pages, it's jam-packed with brand analyses; high, median and low prices; and tips about where to find the best children's clothes to resell. Buy it!.
2) The Lost Rinker Files: Collectibles on eBay, Part I
An amateur scientist recently discovered some buried treasure that it was thought had been lost to the annals of mankind forever. I'm talking about, of course, The Lost Rinker Files, my notes from Harry Rinker's speech at eBay Live 2005 (I think it was 2005). After looking in the logical places, such as the credenza and project box in my office, the scientist (i.e. yours truly) discovered these notes in the stack of books inside the nightstand. I think it was the nightstand. Anyway.
Harry Rinker, radio host and collectibles expert, and host of HGTV's erstwhile Collector Inspector show, gave a great speech entitled "Collectibles on eBay." Here is my attempt at giving you the highlights, bearing in mind there may be mistakes:
Collectibles on eBay, Part I
There really was a market [for antiques and collectibles] before eBay. Harry said we would take a look at [then] ten years of eBay's influence on it.
He said he has a "collecting gene," and calls himself a "dedicated accumulator." He and his wife were once at a collectibles museum and she said "Oh my gosh, this is the pile you're trying to beat!"
And just where do you keep everything if you collect that much stuff? Well, it may not be so hard if you live in a school. That's right, his house is an old school, with six classrooms, 250 collections, and 14,000 items.
Does that sound weird? Not to Harry. For him, "People who don't collect are sick!" That got a laugh out of the audience.
Rinker said "I cut myself on the big three: stamps, coins, and rocks." His uncle collected match covers. They used to pick it up out of the gutter. [See, I'm not the only one who picks things up off the street! ;) ]
"You get it where you get it," he said. Who dominates the antiques and collectibles market today?
What are we in the antiques biz but junk dealers? What are you eBayers but resellers?
Today, people buy for nostalgia reasons. The group with money are spending money to buy back what they remember. Antiques and collectibles, after all, he says, make great accents in the house.
Today, less than 30% of what we sell goes to collectors, he said. Who does the rest go to? Well, you're going to have to read the next installment of the Lost Rinker Files to find that out. ;)
3) Reader Mail: How To Tell the Value of a Coin (or Just About Anything)
I got a letter from a man in India, with an attached scan of a coin. He said it was 5000 to 6000 years old. I thought he was asking me how to find out how valuable it was so he could sell it. So my reply gives info about that, below.
In re-reading his email, I realized he may have been asking about me actually auctioning the coin for him, which I said I would not do, but he might find someone in India who could do it for him. Or I could try to help him find someone who specializes in coins. Below is my reply:
How wonderful to hear from someone in India! How did you find me..are you a subscriber to my newsletter? That's great. :)
That does truly look like an old coin. I would guess it is quite valuable, but as I do not specialize in coins, I don't want to make a wrong estimate for you. I can, however, suggest how you might find out.
One is an online appraisal service called What's It Worth To You at wiw2u.com. According to their web site, it costs $9.95. They also have a deluxe service which you can read about. As far as I know, you just submit online photos, though they may ask you to submit more. It may be the ones you have are all right; I'm not sure.
You may also try the folks on the Coins & Paper Money discussion board on eBay, whether on the US site or one of the foreign site (that's what the discussion board for coins is called on the US site; you can check for what it's called on other country sites). Or try other online selling sites' community boards. Some of these communities have wonderful, helpful experts who post regularly for free.
Please write again and let us know how it goes!
Thanks so much!
Can I buy the e-book Bank Big Profits Selling Vintage Topographical View Postcards on eBay from you at the subscriber discount price?
Thx for writing. :) I wish I could sell that to you at my discount, but because I sell that one for Avril Harper via her affiliate program, I can't go lower on the price. You won't be able to get a lower price on that one. :(
[Note, in case yuo don't know what ebook he's talking about: it's Avril Harper's excellent ebook about selling topigraphical postcards --
find out more here . ]
Fwiw, I bought that one myself and really like it..in fact, I am trying to get 30 post cards listed tonight (I know, you can see I have rockin' Saturday nights!). ;)
But, of course it's up to you.
Best of luck and thanks for subscribing!
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That's it for this issue. Until next time! - Julia
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Copyright 2007 Julia L. Wilkinson
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