The Art of the (Re)Sell
Published in the fall 2012 edition of Vintage KC Magazine
Written by Michael and James Fry
Treasure hunting, whether at antique stores, garage sales, or estates sales, can only go on for so long until space, your significant other, or funds require that you look at reselling your hand picked gems When delving into the realm of reselling, there are now more options than ever and each have their own set of benefits and drawbacks. Some require more time or space, while others more talent and focus to really succeed. All can be used to create a steady stream of income and support your picking habit. We’ll break down each option and leave the decision of where you would thrive up to you.
Let’s begin by taking a look at the oldest option on the list – a booth. Now a booth can be in a flea market, antique store, swap meet, or any other type of space where you have to pay (often a monthly flat rate) for your own area to display and sell your items. You have to pay just for the opportunity to sell. Whether you sell five or five hundred items you still have to pay for your space. If you are not really serious about buying and selling this is probably not the option for you. It can really reward continual effort, but it punishes half-heartedness. The most successful booth sellers add new items and re-arrange their space at least several times each week to prevent their booth from looking stale and picked over. On the positive side, less time is spent dealing with each item you want to sell. You don’t have to take photographs, write a description, rank the condition, and post them online. Most importantly of all, you don’t have anything to do with packaging and shipping! Kansas City has a number of fantastic antique stores and flea markets that are well worth walking through… and possibly selling from.
Next we will compare two of the most common ways to sell items using the internet – eBay and Etsy. Ebay would certainly be the most popular, with over $1,839 in goods sold every second. That popularity is one of the top reasons it’s such an attractive venue. With 233 million registered users around the world, your chances of the right bidder finding your specific item goes up considerably. With more users comes greater interest, and with greater interest comes higher sales. Unfortunately, eBay leverages its high popularity by charging a steep 9-13% commission for every item sold on its site. A great tutorial on eBay selling can be found at www.squidoo.com/free-ebay-seller-tutorials.
This leads us to Etsy. With an attractive commission of just 3% Etsy makes for a good eBay alternative. The site is much more specialized than its larger competitor, only allowing items that are either handmade or can be classified as vintage (defined as 20 years or older). It also has a stronger focus on good photography, and overall artistic sensibilities as exemplified by high selling shops like: Hindsvik, Jerseyicecreamco, & Lacklusterco. Recently a Brown Button fan told us of selling two pairs of identical vintage 1950’s eyeglasses online. He posted one pair on eBay with a starting bid of $14.00 and posted the other on Etsy with an asking price of $22.00. The pair on eBay sold that week with one bid for $14.00. The pair on Etsy sold within a month for $22.00. If you have the right items, skill in presenting them well, and a little patience, Etsy is worth the effort.
The world of reselling has changed dramatically in the last ten years. The technology explosion has resulted in a national and even international market, many more options on how to sell, and additional tools in the reseller’s belt (Craigslist posting from IPhone anyone?). Whether you sell from a booth or from one of the many online options, technology will continue to play a significant role in shaping and directing the antique & collectible market in the years to come. Choose well where you sell. We wish you the best of luck turning your treasure hunting habit into a profitable pursuit.