How To Sell Your Electric Trains

[There is more information about myself and Train City if you click on the different options in the gray menu above.]

There are a number of ways to sell your train collection. You have to determine which way is best for you depending upon your circumstances and time frame. Here are some ideas for you to consider. I am trying to give you some options of ways you can sell your collection with as much unbiased information as possible. Possibly selling to us would be your best option, but that would depend highly on your circumstances. I do sincerely hope you will consider selling to us when the time comes.

Selling to Charles Siegel (Train City)
The Easiest Way to Sell Trains, Period!
On-Line Auctions
Auction Houses
Local Dealers
Garage Sales
Piece By Piece at shows or by mail
Consignment

Train City, Inc. Selling to Train City, Inc. is probably one of the more secure ways to sell your trains. I have been buying and selling electric trains now for almost 30 years, and have one of the best reputations in the train business. We were located in Erie, PA for most of those years but in 2008 moved our business to Cape Canaveral, Florida. Train City, Inc. sells trains exclusively on the Internet on our two sites traincity.com and choochooauctions.com. We have a constant need for new inventory. We pay very competitive prices for electric trains for this reason. If we run out of trains to sell, we are out of business.

There are several ways you can sell to us. If you live locally in Cape Canaveral, or you don't mind a nice drive to the a warm, sunny place, you can come directly to our warehouse. You can send us your trains through the mail for evaluation and an offer. You can send a list of your train collection for an offer. On larger collections in many cases I will travel to you to purchase your collection.

The easiest way for you to sell trains to us is to simply make an inventory list, pack them carefully, insure the packages, and send them to Train City, Inc. Before sending the package, we would ask that you call or email to let us know what you are sending. You can email us anytime at: trainman@traincity.com.

We actually do receive packages all the time. What I do when I receive your package is inspect and evaluate your collection. I then come up with a retail value of your collection, and then make an offer based on that retail price. The percentage can vary depending upon what it is you are selling. As a general rule, the older and better condition the items in the collection are, the higher the percentage will be. Most guide books state that most dealers pay 50% of retail. We always pay more than 50%. For instance right now we pay 60% for Lionel Post War trains. This figure would be higher for higher grade trains. There is a difference between book price and retail in many cases. Book prices are always only someone's opinion of what retail is. We use our database to evaluate collections which is based on actual past sales. Books many times use estimated values, and with ever changing prices, books become out dated quickly. My goal in every case is to come up with as close to an actual retail figure as at all possible.

If you just send us your trains, and do not accept our offer, we return your trains immediately just as we received them. If you are shipping trains to us though, please don't ship just for an appraisal, as we do not offer appraisal service. Please ship only if you are seriously interested in selling the trains.

[There is more information about myself and Train City if you click on the different options in the gray menu above.]

The Easiest Way To Sell Trains, Period! If you would like to eliminate the necessity of inventorying a large train collection, which is very time consuming, this may be a consideration for you.

I didn't even think of this method until a gentleman I had purchased trains from several years prior contacted me. He told me he had a number of trains that were stored, and he did not want to go through the trouble of inventorying the trains. He asked me if I would pick them up, evaluate them, then send him a check.

We tried it, and it worked beautifully. It took me two weeks to inventory the trains, and I sent him a check, of which he was very happy with the amount. He is willing to act as a reference. If you would like his name and phone number, please email me.

Before we start the transaction, I would quote you a percentage of actual retail that I would be willing to work on depending on what is in the collection. In this instance I quoted him 60% of actual retail for the entire collection. In other words 60 cents on the dollar. And that is what he received. This amount can vary depending on my cash position, inventory position, market conditions, and what type of a train collection you have.

Basically how this worked was every day I worked on the collection, and at the end of every day I printed a report of what I inventoried, the retail value, and the amount I paid for each and every item. You will receive this report.

I can send payment checks and reports on a daily, weekly, or at completion, whichever is your preference.

Once items are processed, they are mine. However say that you receive a report and check for the first day's work, and you are not happy with them, I would be very willing to return the unprocessed items to you on request.

This is similar to submitting trains to an auction house, because there is a lot of trust involved. However you can be assured that you will receive payment for your collection many weeks or months sooner.

This would be very beneficial to individuals who inherited a large train collection, don't know much about trains, or are very busy, and just don't have the time to inventory their train collection.

This would require a signed contract that would protect both parties at the time of pickup, or before shipment is made.

The collection I did in February of 2002 was picked up on Friday, February 1st, and completed on February 15th. It involved a collection that filled a 10 foot truck, to give you some idea of a time frame. Transactions such as this will always take priority with me. Of course I can only give you an estimate on a time frame, but be assured that I worked overtime to get that first collection done, as I do have a high desire for closure in all transactions.

Please feel free to email me with any questions you may have.

On-Line Auctions You will realize more money if you auction your trains. Of course there is always a payment you pay in the higher price, which is your time. We own choochooauctions.com, which is a great place to sell trains, especially since (at this time), there is absolutely no charge for auctions. You can place as many train related auctions on this site as you like, and it's completely free. The ultimate price you pay to auction trains instead of selling outright is time. It can be time consuming to upload the auction information and pictures, then do administration work in notifying winners, collecting money, and shipping the trains. This can become very time consuming especially with a medium to large train collection. However, as I said, you will realize more money for your trains this way. The bottom line is, the more work you put into selling your trains, the more money you will realize.

Auction Houses Auctions are a great way to sell your collection, especially if it is large. Be extremely careful who you deal with though. Recently I was supposed to purchase a collection from an individual who had committed his train collection to an auction house. He decided to pull out after he was dissatisfied with the way the auction house was handling his trains. Not only had the auction house had his trains for months in preparation for the auctions they had planned, but when the individual informed the company that he didn't like the way they were handling his trains and that he wanted out of the deal, the auction company charged him 10,000.00 to get out of the deal. And then in spite, even after he had agreed to pay, they held his trains for months until they were forced by the legal system to give the trains back. And then when he got them back, they were not in the same condition as when he had committed them. It has taken the individual months there after to organize the trains in order to sell them to me.

On the positive side, if you find a good auction house, they usually do a good job, and I believe the fee is 15%, which is better than you will realize selling to an individual. However you will be risking your collection as you have to hand them over to the auction house usually months before they are sold so they can be catalogued. Make absolute certain that the auction house has a good insurance policy against theft, fire, or other damage that could be incurred while in their possession.

Local Dealers If you are lucky and have an established train dealer near you, this is the easiest way to sell your trains. However you have to be very careful whom you are dealing with. I have purchased many collections around the country where the seller told me that their local bids were substantially lower than mine. If you are exploring the possibility of selling to a local dealer, you should also get a quote from a non- local dealer for comparison. If your local dealer is small with a low volume operation, chances are he will not be competitive with a more substantial dealer who does higher volume, mainly because the larger dealer usually has a constant need to replace his inventory.

Avoid part time dealers, antique dealers, and dealers who have no established place of business. Avoid like the plague fast talkers, or people who talk everything you have down. I have dealt with such dealers in the past, and before you know it they have you believing that they are doing you a favor for taking your trains off your hands, while they are actually stealing them. If you feel uncomfortable with a dealer or individual, do not hesitate to ask them to leave, or pull back from the deal and maybe re-evaluate what you are getting yourself into. It is your choice, they are your trains, don't ever let a person force or talk you into selling to them. Explore all of your options, or you could be out some serious cash. Of course if this is the case, you won't know how much you are loosing, but wouldn't it be better to stay away from this type of situation and realize as much money as possible?

Garage Sales and Flea Markets I once purchased a collection the day before it was going to turn into a garage sale. I can't tell you how grateful the people who sold me the collection were when they realized how many problems they probably would have run into, and how much less money they would have realized. Unless it is just a very small amount of trains, I don't recommend selling train collections this way. You want to deal more with people who are knowledgeable in trains so that you will realize a fair value. Not that people who attend garage sales and flea markets couldn't be knowledgeable, however I believe that most people in that buying atmosphere are looking for bargains, which is not in your best interest.

Selling Piece By Piece There are a number of ways you can sell your train collection piece by piece, if you have the time and patience in doing so. Probably the best way is using an on-line auction as mentioned above, however if you want to set fixed pricing and are member of the Lionel Collectors Club of America, they publish a great bimonthly journal called the Interchange Track where you can list individual items. I believe you can list up to 25 pieces per issue. They are mailed to the entire membership, and get great readership. I've never used it, but am told as long as you keep your prices reasonable, you will get results.

Train shows are also a great way to sell trains, however don't expect to sell everything unless you offer the whole table for a very cheap price. I don't care what you take with you, if you keep your prices near retail, you will go home with plenty of trains as I always did in my train show days. (Thank goodness they are over!)

You can also advertise in magazines such as Classic Toy Trains, however your initial cost will be great, and you had better have some good merchandise to sell to make up for the ad fees.

Consignment Did you notice that this is the last option I list? There is a reason for that.

I've seen more problems come about by consignment than any other method. Whether it be a friend or a dealer, this is not a good situation for either party. I've seen friendships go amuck, and legal battles waged mainly because of consignment agreements.

The biggest mistake sellers make is not having a formal contract written up specifying terms and prices expected. Let's say that you have a 300 piece collection of trains that you give to a friend who is going to sell the trains at shows for a 10% commission. The biggest problem is it is going to take them forever to sell your collection unless they offer the trains at give away prices. At that point, you would have been better off to sell the entire collection outright to one party. You would have had your money immediately so you could collect interest. By the time you factor in the interest realized, the commission, and the give away prices, how much different would the price be than had you sold the collection to one party say 6 months or a year earlier?

I have never talked with someone who took this route who was happy with the results. And in two cases good friendships ended in an awkward way, one through a legal battle.

I view this method of selling as the worst way you could go.

I hope these tips are of some help to you in selling your collection. I'll leave you with my speel to buy your trains below. If you need more information from us, please click on that 'contact us' tab in the gray menu above.


'I'm always buying Lionel, American Flyer, Marx and other collectable mfgs train Collections. I want to spend $400,000.00 this year.........'

That is an excerpt from an ad that I have been running in 'Classic Toy Trains' and "O Gauge Railroading" for years. As a matter of fact, I have been advertising to buy trains longer than anyone else around. My name is Charles Siegel, and I make my living buying and selling electric trains. If you think about it, I wouldn't be able to advertise the way I do year after year unless what I say in my ad wasn't true.

I've purchased millions of dollars worth of electric trains over the years, and honesty and integrity are the absolute most important aspects of my business. I've been advertising that fact for years, and I mean it! When I say I will do something, you can bet it will be done. When I state something, you can bet it is the truth to the best of my knowledge. I feel strongly that there is no better asset for a business than it's reputation. And if you check around, you will find that Train City has among the highest reputations in the train business.

OK, so if you are selling your collection, how should you start? Well first, look around this section of my web pages. You may or may not have noticed, but the menu above changed to the buy menu. There is a lot of information about me, my references, how we do business, and testimonials that should be of interest to you if you are planning on selling your trains.

Then, if you feel comfortable, give me a call, or email me. Tell me what you have for sale, and if possible give me your asking price. (Not essential). At some point I will ask you to send a listing of exactly what you have for sale. I will travel to you if merited. (I prefer to do this on collections that value $25,000.00 (wholesale price), or more, but that is subjective.) However you always have the option of shipping your trains to us for evaluation, whether it be a handful of pieces or a large collection. We receive trains through the mail very frequently.

Please keep in mind, this is my only business. I can not stay in business unless I have trains to sell, so I am always buying, and paying very competitive prices, if not the highest around. So please give us a shot. We would sincerely appreciate your consideration when it comes time to sell your collection.

Please bookmark this page if you are thinking of selling in the future.

Revised:2/16/02
For questions or comments, please email or call us at 321.799.4005 Fax: 321.799.4044
Train City, Inc, 387 Imperial Blvd, Suite 2, Cape Canaveral, FL 32920
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