One of the first questions people ask us is how much do you charge and what do you do? Most of the time, a tone of voice or look in the eye tells me the real question a person is asking ends; What do you do... to earn your 33% commission? The short answer is that we get your items sold in a timely manner by dealing with the nuisance that is known as the general public.
I do a little picking for myself from time to time. People love diecast replicas and I knew that when I saw a lot of 17 assorted pieces at a local flea market - all mint in original boxes. I bought them all for about $25 each and sold them for $75 or more each on eBay and tripled my money. Flea markets and yard sales have their places for both buying and selling, but if you have something good - give it to a professional like us and know that we will get the best price possible.
Barbie can be hit or miss, but the older pieces can do okay. This lot was actually the less common Barbie's friends "Midge Skipper & Allan" from 1962. A 1959 First Barbie (Zebra Swimsuit) is worth as much as $3,000 - and the prices go way down after that. I generally won't even take Barbies newer than the 1970s
This "Antique Masthead Brass Marine Lantern" had a great 'steampunk' look to it and it could have sold for more than the $142 it did, but it had been altered from it's original condition when someone cut a hole in the bottom and stuck a light bulb inside. These were originally fueled with oil or kerosene, so the serious collectors passed this up.
eBay is very name brand driven and some items like this hand made "Antique Wood Humidor Cigar Box Cabinet" don't have too many characteristics to help us describe and market them. I knew this piece was worth several hundred dollars, but this was the type of piece that might have slipped through the cracks. A $10 opening bid could have been disastrous, so we started the price pretty close to what I thought it was worth.
Over the past few years, we have had to turn away more than several customers who presented us with items barely fit for a thrift store. While we don't profess to be one of those 'snobby' elite consignment stores, we can't take just anything.
If you have appreciated our service and the results we've gotten for you in the past - please just take a minute to provide us with a sentence or two of testimony under "Customer Comments".
While most of our consignment customers are satisfied with the results we deliver, some confide in me that they really thought a given item would be worth more. I am no economist, but I can tell you that consumer spending is way down. Even in the Washington / Baltimore metropolitan area where unemployment isn't that bad, people are loosing their homes and businesses are closing every month. The good news is that when times are tough, most people have things that they are not using which they can sell. If the price is right, there will always be a buyer.
I recently had a potential customer with a large collection of eight thousand old lead and cast iron toy soldiers who suggested they were worth half a million dollars. After doing some research on his collection, I explained to him that the real value was more like $15,000 - on a good day - from the perfect buyer. Some people just don't live in reality. This lot of "Antique 80mm Cellose French Napoleonic Cast Iron Toy Soldiers" only sold for $89 as they were basically just old dime store types. Had they been from a decent maker, they would have done much better.
Any old items with decorator potential can do well. We found these "Antique Art Nouveau Cast Iron Wall Light Sconces" in a mice-filled shed during a house-call and knew they would be perfect for eBay. We cleaned them off in our glass bead cabinet just enough to make them presentable. These actually had a makers mark on the back which made them even more desirable. Even in this bad economy, they still sold for $78
This "Original 1950 White House Item President Truman Gavel" was actually a retired piece from the White House. Apparently they clean house every so often and the trash becomes someone else's treasure. If you ask me, they've been needing to clean out that place since 2009. Non-printed political items are hard to come by, which is why this piece went for $484
Anything that was printed in quantities like books, magazines, or even postcards usually don't do so well. eBay and the Internet in general has killed the market for such items as every old-timer is digging them out of the attic thinking they are worth a fortune. With postcards, they have to be both really old and in decent condition - this lot of several hundred sold for $288.
We love old items with history. A typical old wooden coin bank is worth maybe five bucks, but when you know the history, things like this 1890s "Antique Christian Science Busy Bee Band Wooden Bank" can bring big money - $363 in this case. Things with religious significance will always do well.