Evolving perceptions of value

As the owner of a consignment store, I see the full spectrum of buying and selling: There are those people that place too much value on the 'junk' they have and there are buyers who undervalue these same items. Our job is to find the happy medium. I recently sold a hunk of a bronze statue for more than a whole car - a vintage Jaguar coupe in beautiful, running, driving condition! Granted, the car will require maintenance over time, while the sculpture will only require the occasional dusting. But still - that's just not right! Talking to an older lady the other day, I had to explain that her 'vintage' fur coats were not worth the thousands of dollars they cost when new as the current generation does not generally want to flaunt dead animal on their shoulders. In the colonial days, everyone wore furs as they were readily available and met a persons need for warmth. Somewhere along the line, fine furs became a luxury, but are now worth nothing again because of a shift in the economy coupled with skewered and evolving perceptions of what is valuable.

Among our hundreds of customers, a few have in fact complained that a given item left with us on consignment sold for less than what they had hoped. In reality, a given item is only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it. eBay and the internet has actually hurt the value of many items as now, items which used to be 'rare', are readily available. As a professional eBay trading assistant, we honestly do help the value of items with our reputation and representation, but we can't make an item that is worth $10 sell for $100. Condition is a big factor as well. Just like a new car, any item is worth less once it has been used. For that matter, eBay is not a retail store and even new items will only sell for so much. A retailer can command a certain price for a given item by having it right when a customer wants or needs it. Selling an item in one week on eBay is usually going to involve a monetary trade-off since we are not stocking said item on our shelves for months at a time waiting for the perfect buyer. A funny exception; I recently had a Hoover vacuum cleaner which was actually a model from about 10 years ago but still new in it's box. I put it on eBay for a $10 bid and a 'collector' found it and begged me to sell it to him outright for the original purchase price of $120 as it was a 'rare' model and had some collector value to him. Wow! I knew people collected some strange things, but vacuum cleaners! Who knew? I quickly accepted his offer as I didn't expect it to bid up past $50 and everyone was happy. In many cases, we turn down offers like that, but in this case I knew to jump on it. In short, as one of the few remaining eBay drop off stores in the Baltimore Maryland area, we know what we are doing and we most certainly earn our commission. We thank all our customers for allowing us to get this far and look forward to serving your consignment needs soon.


Submitted by Mike on August 26, 2012

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