Monday, October 16, 2006

"Collector's Items"

This past weekend, I participated in a flea market sponsored by the international students office here at the seminary. I brought a bunch of toys and comics that I'm trying to clear out. Nothing too special, mostly Happy Meal toys and similar small items, but I did have a few Star Wars figures that I never got around to taking out of their packages that I got before I realized how badly Hasbro was flooding the market for Episode One figures.

I tried to keep my prices low. Happy Meal toys were a dollar. Happy Meal toys with custom boxes were two dollars. Some Transformer PVCs were on sale for fifty cents. Comics were a dollar apiece, with discounts available if the purchaser took sets.

More than once, people came by, saw what I was selling, and proclaimed how these items were collector's items, and a few expressed amazment that I could part with them. I explained (honestly) that the stuff I had for sale was stuff I didn't care too much about, and that I had plenty of stuff that I was keeping at home, but that I needed to clear out some space.

Overall, the experience was a bit of a disappointment. Although many people had respect for the items I had, it seemed that few had any interest in getting such "collector's items" for themselves. While I sold enough to make back the money I paid to get the table in the first place, I didn't make much extra. Of course, the money I paid the get the table from which to sell my items was donated to charity, so even that wasn't really a "loss." But I really did hope to get a bit more extra cash with which to ease current financial burdens, and that really didn't happen. No one even looked at my custom boxes, which was particularly disappointing.

But that's been my experience with "collector's items" my whole life. Once in a blue moon, I can sell something that gets more money than I paid for it, but usually, the value of these items is only in what I place on having it myself. Other people almost never place the same value on them that I do, and if they do, the odds are I'm not looking to part with it in the first place.

This even seems to be the case on the recent BotCon exclusives I got a couple of weeks ago. I sold three of the ten that I got, but the only one I made any money on (as opposed to what I paid for them in the first place) was the "Attendee-only" exclusive. While people may wish they had these items, they generally don't want to pay what they're worth. And I'm really no different. I almost never buy even Transformers for the regular retail price, almost always waiting for sales, taking the risk that they may no longer be available when the sales finally come around. "Collector's items" are just that: they're for collecting. Trying to make any money off of them really misses the point.

Having said all that, if you're interested, a few of the items I was selling are back up for sale on a web site I set up for the purpose (including several items that weren't available at the flea market. If you're interested in GI Joe or Star Wars stuff, be sure to check out the link at the bottom of the page).


  1. Well, I can say that the Tigatron you sold me is worth much more to me than you sold him for. :) He even accompanies me to doctor's appointments so I don't feel all alone. :)


  2. I'm certainly glad you like it. ;)


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