When The Big One Gets Away

I've been buying and selling old electric trains now for almost 20 years. After you've been in the business for that long of a time you learn that you win some and you loose some. Although some that you loose hurt more than others, even now.

When I first started out I used to take rejected bids personally. And I think beginners tend to deal with more emotion than seasoned veterans like myself!! I remember some train collections that I bid on hoping upon hope that I would be able to buy the collection. But when I never heard from the party or they notified me that there were selling to someone else, I'd get mad.

And that was before I realized there are a lot more fish in the sea than you might think. My attitude these days is that if I loose out on one collection, another one will come along. And in a funny and ironic sort of way that has happened to me within the last couple of weeks.

For the past couple of months or so I have been negotiating back and forth about probably the nicest Lionel post war collection I have ever had the opportunity to do so. The list was extremely impressive. Almost everything in the collection was graded excellent plus, many items throughout the collection grade Like New and New!

Usually I prefer to have a deal on paper done before traveling, but this collection was special, so I agreed to travel and look this one over before giving an offer especially since the collection is located fairly close to me.

I did so, and when I first stepped into the huge train room, my heart started to flutter and do flip flops on me!! ‘Wow!' Was the only word that came to my mind when I first entered that room.

I spent a total of 2 and ˝ hours looking over the collection. There were a couple of items that I would have actually graded very good. Well maybe more than just a few, but the collection was so big that figure only amounted to a small percentage of the collection. The majority of the collection is just gorgeous. And was almost a complete selection of Lionel post war trains to boot.

My head was spinning when I left. I was optimistic. The owner of the collection was very hospitable, and friendly to say the least. On the way home I was seriously very hopeful that we could get together, and it was obvious that he had shared my feelings.

So I sat down and looked over the list seriously for the first time. And this is the sad part. After a couple of hours of looking it over, more or less still confused because the prices he had listed seemed to be so high, I came to the conclusion that I couldn't give a counter offer because I thought his revised offer was actually over retail. (We are talking well into the six digits here.) I wasn't looking for a money spinning adventure. So I wrote him an email to that affect.

One thing led do another, and he did give me another lower offer, but I passed with much reluctance, more or less eating my heart out.

And even today I doubt my decision. But usually my gut feeling is right, and since prices are very subjective, with that much money on the table, you simply can't guess or gamble with deals like this.

But get mad? Heck no. I got to see and learn some things that day looking at the collection that I had never seen or known before. And the seller was a very nice guy, so I actually feel like I made a friend. We just couldn't get together on business unfortunately.

But I like closure, so after that fateful day, I moved onto other collections. I've actually made some five plus offers since then, with three of them being successful. Unfortunately they aren't quite as big as the one that got away. But you take what you can get.

The ironic part of this story is that a bid that I had made before I went to view the collection came through just this week. I'll be traveling to pick it up later today. (12/13/00). Now this is not nearly as big of a collection. I think it is around 5% as big as that huge collection that sits so close by to my fair city. However there are some similarities. It is located some 10 miles away from the other collection, it does have some really nice trains in it, and I figure I will make probably as much profit on this one as I would have had I jumped into the other collection!! Now that is saying that there wasn't much profit to be made on that other collection.

So I guess the moral to this story is that you have to take what you get. Sure I would have loved to have bought that big one. But I'll settle for the little one any day. And now I am on the prowl for the next big collection. Boy do I love what I do for a living! It's like the Easter egg hunt and opening those presents under the tree almost every day!!!!

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Revised 12/13/00
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