A Message From The President

OK, I'm not the President, I'm just the owner. But since I am the owner of this site, I suppose I could change my title to President. Don't you just hate companies that do that. Let's face it I'm just a one man operation with several employees, and I'll level with you on that one.

But how about those web sites that are so formal. Why the site is so professional looking and proper. And there's the CEO of the company, the President of the company, the treasurer, etc., etc.

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to somehow jump into your computer and look behind those sites. What do you think you'd see? In some cases a well run company. In most cases you'd find some guy sipping on a beer, sitting on his front porch with his laptop and your money!

Now what in the world does that thought have to do with anything? Absolutely nothing. But now that you've read this far, let's talk about trains!

Since we've been having trouble with our message boards, I decided to start a Yahoo Group Called Choochoo-Trains. I love Yahoo Groups because there is so much you can do with them. There are a lot of different options you have in having all messages emailed to you, a chat room, picture storage, web cam usage, etc. You have to be registered with Yahoo to use it. However you do not have to be a member to view it. Yahoo is easy to join, so if you have a couple of minutes, please check it out. Hopefully in time it will become an extension of traincity.com and choochooauctions.com.

As I stated last time, my grading article a while back brought many comments both good and bad.

One question did arise that was interesting. Where does restored fit in to the grading scheme, and how are restored trains priced?

When I first got into this business and I was offered restored trains, I avoided them mainly because I didn't know a thing about them. I had been told that pre-war Lionel items should go for around the good condition price.

The key to restored items is how well they are done. There are some excellent services out there that do unbelievable work.

On the other hand there are some collectors who do restoration themselves. I've seen some good stuff come from those collectors, but the best is with the professionals.

Prices for quality restorations have surprised me over the years. I purchased a collection in Baltimore several years back which was the first collection with a number of restored items in it. I was actually reluctant to purchase it. However the quality of the restorations was excellent, and I priced them somewhere in the neighborhood of between very good and excellent. They flew out of the shop at those prices.

I found an example from that collection in my database. A 2343 Santa Fe F-3 AA that was beautifully done sold for 325.00 in 1994. It took 3 months to sell that item. Now keep in mind the book quoted $600.00 for those F-3's in Excellent condition at the time, so actually these were priced more like very good at the time.

Within the last month we sold a 381-E pre war engine that was an absolutely fabulous restoration job. Actually I placed it on our auction site against my better judgement, as the piece was so nice it looked spectacular in the store on display. But I get edgy sometimes when things sit around longer than I want them to, so I decided to force a sale on the auction site.

The engine sold for $1210.00 where it books for $1500.00 in good. I sincerely think had I been patient I would have come much closer to my asking price of $2000.00.

Legitimately I think a professionally restored item should sell for at least the good price. However in many cases, they have sold for more than that for me over the years. Maybe selling at an excellent price is pushing it though.

If it is a lousy job, obviously the seller should get what he can and move on. The piece is at least good for parts!

I try not to get to excited about pending deals, because many times deals fall through for one reason or the other, even if there is an oral agreement.

So this is very unofficial! I have an agreement to purchase a very nice and large Lionel Post War collection in the second week of April. If that happens, those of you who have been complaining about my lack of post war inventory should be very happy, at least for a while.

I am a little disappointed that I haven't been offered as many collections as I thought I would in the first quarter of this year. One thing about the secondary train market is that you really can't count on anything.

I get very edgy when my inventory starts to shrink with nothing to buy in site. And due to strong selling in the last quarter of last year, and the first quarter of this year, my inventory is starting to get to the point of my screaming, help! Although I am expecting a collection to arrive any day now. This is a done deal, and will appear in the new stuff file soon, thank goodness!

I have been offered several collections so far this year, but to be truthful other than a couple, none have really interested me that much because it seems people are trying to sell very recent production. Not that I won't buy it, but when you compare what I am willing to pay for it, and what the seller paid, well let's just say that market is not strong right now.

Why is the market on recent Lionel and MTH soft now you ask? The war that Lionel and Mike's Train House has hurt our train market substantially. I am getting a little disgusted with the two companies who seem to be acting like two fighting children. Both are completely out of control.

Anyone who is buying new Lionel and Mike's Train House today is feeding a frenzy that is really hurting everyone associated with electric trains today.

They aren't just hurting the hobby, but they are hurting each other. Mike's Train House had to lay off a good portion of it's staff last year alone. Lionel had to make the move to China. And the thing that really gets me about Lionel's move is that even though Lionel's cost is going to be reduced substantially, they refuse to give some of it back in lower costs to their customers. That was arrogantly announced in an interview in Classic Toy Trains, which made absolutely no sense.

Just remember this. Every item you buy from either of those companies, your motive has to be for the love of trains. Because like automobiles, the value goes down substantially the minute you get it out of the showroom.

So instead of buying from the new catalog, consider waiting a year or two and I guarantee you will be able to buy them from me or other dealers at a much reduced price! That is until the two companies either go out of business, or stop their practice of producing way to many trains for a limited market.

This was something that all dealers have known for quite a while, but I think no one really wanted to go public. Well, I guess I just did.

And that is the President's message for today! The Vice President's message comes next time!

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