Collectibles are a tricky. I should know, I’ve been selling them on eBay for a little over 13 years now. Collectibles can be a volatile market: their value can change widely based on current events or popular culture, they can be difficult to research and easy to mis-list and, perhaps worst of all, no one can seem to agree if they are spelled collectibles or collectables.
But whether you just started selling collectibles or have been selling them for years, there are three very important things you need to remember to be successful. Handily, they each start with the letter R! 😉
Thorough research is the collectibles seller’s best friend. Before you price or list an item, do your homework and not just on value. If there isn’t a price guide or website available, ask around on message boards. What’s the history of this item? Are there features of this one in particular that increase or decrease its value? What terms do the collectors of this item use to refer to it? This has to be the biggest mistake newbie collectibles sellers make. When you fail to research your item before selling, you both cheat yourself out of profit and mislead your buyers.
Let’s say it takes you three hours to clean an item, then another two hours to research it and then an hour to photograph and list the item on eBay. Then, once it sells, you have to pack it up and ship it out which takes an hour because it’s fragile. It sells for $50 which seems great (you only paid $5 for it after all) until you start to think about it the fact that, broken down in terms of those 7 hours of work, you only made $6.43 an hour. Less than minimum wage and I didn’t even take eBay and PayPal fees (or the fees of whatever you platform is these days) into consideration in that calculation. When choosing collectible items to sell, be realistic. Take not only final sale price but also research and prep work into consideration when deciding if it’s worth it to sell.
Never under estimate the value of loyal customers. If a certain type of item did well in the past, make sure to keep stocking similar items. If they got good service from you in the past, you’ll find that some buyers are willing to pay more for the same item from you than from another seller because they know what to expect from you. Some collectibles sellers assume the rules about branding and customer service for sellers of brand new items don’t apply to them but this couldn’t be further from the truth. This doesn’t mean you can’t sell whatever comes your way, but it does mean that you should keep a supply of your most popular items to help build up some “regulars.” It’s the secret to sustainability in the collectibles business.
To my readers that sell collectibles, what would you add?