Moving On

I would like to thank everyone who wished me well through my health ordeal last month. The story wasn't actually finished with the last article because after being home for three days after being released from the hospital after 8 days, I ended up in the hospital for another eight days with complications. With my luck, I wasn’t surprised.

I am very happy to say that I feel much better now, and am getting better each day. The doctor says in two weeks I might be able to continue my golf carrier. Now you’re talking Doc!!

I haven’t had the opportunity to purchase any new inventory for over a month now, but that should be changing soon. I just received an interesting collection through the mail that will be appearing on the ‘new stuff’ file soon. In addition I am negotiating for some large Lionel Post War collections. One of the problems is that I can’t travel yet, but in three weeks hopefully I’ll be on the road again!

Enough of this talk about my health. Let's move on!!!

Congratulations to my Son Charlie. He graduates from High School on June 8th. It is hard to believe that the years went by this fast. I remember him as a little tyke who loved walking around our old apartment carrying of all things empty beer bottles. Being new parents, we didn’t know any better than to let him do that. Today that would probably be a federal offense!!! Charlie will be working in the store a couple of days a week this Summer, then it is off to Penn State, majoring in Computer Science. Of course we wish Charlie only the best. What a good kid! (He doesn’t take after me at all!!)

We’ve had a couple of topics on Ebay, and I thought maybe I would add to those thoughts here, since I have Ebay completely figured out now!!

You may or may not know that we have been running consistent auctions on Ebay for the past couple of months.

If you would have told me that I would be committed to Ebay the way I am now three months ago, I would have thought you were crazy. But as I have found out, Ebay is perfect for my business. It is especially great to liquidate older stock.

For the most part, the items that we run on Ebay are old stock items that we’ve had for 6 months or longer. Every time I update a list I run a special program that gives me a list of items that have been reduced in price due to the fact that we have had the items for 6 months with no activity. The program also prints out a report, and many of the items that we run on Ebay come from those lists.

Our official policy though is that we will not run items on Ebay until the item has at least run through the ‘New Stuff’ file, which is inventory that is no older than 30 days. Now this is with the exception of items such as junk items or personal items we run. I do not intend to buy collections and put the items directly onto Ebay now or in the future. I have to many loyal customers who have no interest in bidding on Ebay. So I will always give you the opportunity to purchase directly from our lists before any item is put on Ebay.

There are some things I have found that I don’t like about Ebay.

One of those things is the length of time that it takes to process items. I have gotten better at it. It used to take me over 2 hours to do 5 items. Today I was able to do 5 items in an hour and twenty minutes, mainly because I am more organized. My descriptions are probably to wordy, and the pictures take a while. But I would rather be careful to make sure there isn’t a misunderstanding as to grade, etc.

Another problem I have with Ebay is people who bid on something and then don’t send the money. This can be frustrating. Fortunately most bidders are sincere. However I did have an item that was bid up to almost double it’s retail price. I immediately sent a notice the winning bidder only to have the address turn up bad. And then there was the time that a guy bid on an item, and after I notified him, he told me the check was in the mail. After not receiving the check for a two week period, I emailed him again. This time he said he didn’t remember because he had a stroke. I’m still trying to figure out what the stroke had to do with ‘the check already having been in the mail.’ Of course the only thing you can do is give them bad feedback, and although I am reluctant to do that, I do, as you can’t have people like that bidding.

One thing I love about Ebay is that it is a sure sale. Although you may take a loss on an item, in some cases that is a good thing to do, and use the money to buy more trains that maybe you can loose some more money on!! (Hopefully not.)

I know a dealer who refuses to take a loss on any item he has bought. You should see his storage room!! He is trying to retire now, but that won’t happen because he refuses to sell anything at a loss. I think he has more dead inventory than I have inventory period!

A while back I told you that in April instead of going to York, I was going to experiment by putting items on Ebay. Now in this experiment, rather than going by the old stock rule, I just pulled items that I figured I would have taken to York. As it turns out over a 10 day period I pulled some 49 pieces to be placed on Ebay. I don’t have the data, but this is probably more items than I would have been able to sell at York.

Now, at York I normally leave on Thursday Morning, and come back Saturday afternoon. You have to include the 8 hours of packing and unpacking in addition to say 12 hour days while on the trip. So the time invested for York would have been around 44 hours, and I am away from the office. In the 10 day period with Ebay I had a maximum of 30 hours involved in the auctions, and that could have been reduced by 30% had I been more experienced and efficient with my time like I am now!

So that is 14 more hours at the York show with these figures, and with Ebay, I am at the office, and don’t miss calls, or sales, or buy opportunities that routinely come my way in the office.

Overall sales from Ebay were 35% higher than York comparing the Fall 1998 York Show to the April 1999 Ebay results. Net profit was up 42% comparing Ebay with York. Of course the sales figure has a lot to do with that, but the fact that my expenses for Ebay were less than half that of York, obviously was helpful.

Of course there is little risk with Ebay, there is enormous risk with York. A fire in a building or theft could put you out of business, although that has never happened at York to my knowledge. There was a flood once though.

Well, you get the idea. My experiment proved without a doubt that Ebay wins over York hands down. Of course that is today’s market. What I am finding is to try not to get to used to a market, because next week it will be different in these fast changing times.

And one last thing, I am particularly looking to purchase new collections, particularly large collections (30,000.00+). If you have trains for sale, please let me know. If you know of a large collection, please let me know. I do pay generous finders fees.

Well, enjoy the weather. You know I will in a couple of weeks!!!

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Revised 6/3/99