This little guy didn't have any markings but by knowing descriptive buzzwords such as 'Imari' we were able to find comps and got a nice price for what might otherwise appear to be just another mundane figurine. One customer had a whole house full of cat figures, most of which were nothing special. Having the eye to recognize unusual pieces is what sets us apart from other auction services.
Things like old comics can have serious value but condition is everything. Comics and other types of things can be professionally graded on their conditiion - which costs money and takes time to mail them off. Sometimes we get things that could be worth even more if we had them appraised by a third party but since our consignors don't always want to invest money in things they're getting rid of, we just have to carefully show buyers what we have and take our chances.
I was recently turned on to the strategy of 'junk drawer' lots on eBay. Dealers looking for smalls and hoarders alike will pay up for a bunch of random vintage stuff. In this case, I tried to make an appealing group of things but for only $65 I don't think I'll be doing it again anytime soon. Believe it or not, there was a good $300 or more worth of items here if sold individually. The problem with selling unmatched groups of anything is that it lowers the per-piece price and most importantly, it is too hard to market to specific collectors.
Quality musical instruments will always have decent resale value but here is a story for you: A couple years ago, a customer brought me one of these to sell - I sold it - and that was that. That same customer, who was a professional level player by the way, decided that she wanted to play again - mainly for her father who's health is declining. She just happened to be checking on eBay and found this instrument - from a totally different customer - and went ahead and bought it and picked it up in the store. We're like a neighborhood trading post!
This old cart had never been used and was almost 50 years old - it's the type of thing that's so obscure and most people would send to the thrift store or throw away. And just look at the pattern, we knew it was so awful that someone would love it but it took time and effort to sell.
As part of our employee 'picker' training program, we sent Kyle to the local thrift store with the intent to buy something and resell it for a profit. He paid $5 for this item and after about a month, it sold. After the eBay fees his profit was around $15 - he quadrupled his investment! Imagine if you could get returns like that in volume, selling hundreds of items a month. All it takes is a little knowledge and effort. Right here on this blog explains to you 80% of what I know - the rest is just instinct and experience which comes in time.
Sometimes, having a 'story' behind a given item not only makes it more salable but also increases it's value. Some pieces from this lot were used by a man who worked at the Mather mine in PA which exploded in 1928. He purportedly didn't feel well that day and stayed home from work while his father went in and was killed in the blast along with 194 other casulties. The person who bought this lot also had a family member who didn't go to work that fateful day either and was preserving the history through artifacts.
These Hallmark decorations typically retail between $10 and $20 each new at the store. As a second-hand dealer, we can't afford to take the time to sell things on the Internet for under $20. In many cases, we have to create 'group lots' like this knowing it will lower the per piece price and the weight and cost of the shipping will cut into the sale as well. These things considered, our timing was apparently good and this lot sold for a respectable price.
This piece was in rough condition but it dated back to the decade Donald was created and was probably one of the first cartoon toy figures made for him. Any markings had been worn off but we were able to find an identical piece that was attributed to the 'Knickerbocker' maker. So many items have changed hands on the Internet in the past twenty years or so that we can easily find almost anything we come across and get more information about it which in turn helps us sell the item.
This awful piece found a new home in Australia! The buyer paid almost as much in shipping as the purchase price! Using buzz words like 'Mid Century' gets eyes focused on items that otherwise wouldn't have a chance of selling. This piece actually had a crack when we found it (shhhhh) but our vendor friend Mary doctor'd it up so no one would ever even know. A chipped item is usually worthless - no one would have spent over $200 to get it and it would have probably ended up in the trash. We are all about preserving things and keeping stuff out of the landfill.
We recently acquired a collection of assorted never-used inventory from a client who was planning to eventually open a B&B. This piece was bought at Homegoods for $39 with a price sticker that said 'compare at $100'. It blows my mind that it sold for $139 plus $12 shipping and not only that but the buyer was a dealer who is planning to resell it for even more! It just goes to show that if you know your P's: Product, Price, Promotion, and Placement - you can make money with just about anything.
Anything Disney puts out has millions of followers but most of these made-in-China porcelain figures are a dime a dozen. This one in particular was a Theme Park exclusive and the collectors drove the price up. The winning buyer was actually in Italy! Immediatly after the sale, the runner up bidder messaged me how upset he was that he lost the bid and suggested that he would pay more if I would sell it to him instead. No amount of money is worth my reputation so I politely declined and wished him better luck next time.