Ask A Genius 470 – Buying or Selling Online (3)
December 11, 2018
[Beginning of recorded material]
Rick Rosner: eBay, you can look around and find other places that offer slightly – like Etsy – similar stuff, depending on your category. Etsy is not a bid based app. Everybody sets the price.
It is good if you do not want to wait. But on eBay, you are waiting 6 days or something until the bid ends. On Etsy, you, sometimes, pay a little more. But then, there are of items listed simultaneously on Etsy and eBay with the minimum starting bid being the Etsy price.
I do not know the etiquette of doing that is. But then, there are other places. If you want really high-end stuff where you will pay a lot more, and the prices have been or may seem double or triple what they might be on eBay, one place is called First Dibs. There is a place called Ruby Lane.
There are other boutiquey collectible sites. If you look around, you can find versions of eBay that are crappier than eBay with items even cheaper than eBay.
I don’t know if anyone has done anything on the economics of collectible stuff. Where there should be a mathematical function of what the price of collectibles is, given the absence of other factors, other factors being, for instance in the case of Beanie Babies; they were very collectible 20 years ago.
It was right at the end of the 90s and 2000s. People paid a bunch of money for them until everyone realized that they were bullshit. The people hoping to make a lot of money ended up losing it.
But in the absence of some market collapse, for something where there has been an established market for a collectible over decades, there will still be waves of fashionability and unfashionability.
Like Antiques Roadshow, people will realize – like the fancy heavy wooden granda furniture – stuff is kind of worthless. People do not want it; it reminds people of their grandparents. Fashion aside and market collapses aside; I suspect the price of collectibles to go up based on inflation or based on attenuation of supply, like with comic books, where decades of parents throwing away their kids’ comic books.
I had a comic book collection. If there is a rate at which the collectible items become more rare, because they are subject to loss and destruction, and then there is an increase in population; if the population has doubled or tripled since the first issue of action comics with Super Man, you would expect a number of collectors to, at least, have tripled and, actually, maybe, more than tripled because the internet gives people opportunities.
We know it gives people to share their terrible political opinions and to radicalize one another. But it would increase the number of collectors at a greater rate than the numbers of increase in the population because more information about stuff is out there.
Which you’d think would make collectibles an investment, it probably would not, because you are buying from people who know what they are doing. If you are buying from an auction house, when you can buy things online, you are paying a premium to the auction house.
One more thing about knowing whether what you’re purchasing on eBay is fair priced or not. If it is a popular item with 6, 8, or 12 bids on it, you can click on the bids and see who is bidding on it. Not the names of the people but the number of transactions that they have done on eBay.
If a bidder has a thousand or more transactions listed with a number listed in parentheses beside their name, they are probably a dealer. It would be insane for someone to go on eBay to then buy a 1,000 things without selling anything.
A big number means a dealer is trying to buy that thing and means that that dealer thinks that he or she can make money if they get the item at the price that they have bid, which means that it is fairly priced; unless, you’re dealing with a crazy obsessed person.
That’s about it.
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American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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