Going along with the whole idea of weird collecting habits is a second conundrum that I’ve been mulling over lately. Selling off collections. Unless you’re lucky enough to live near a place that has a nifty thrift/antique/flea/etc. store or some sort of swap meet, I’d be willing to wager that most transactions involving vintage collecting are pretty much relegated to Ebay. I know it’s served as my choice for one stop shopping in building my insane 80s sticker collection this past month.
So here’s my question, what the hell are some people thinking when it comes to setting prices on the swag they’re selling? I’m used to the pricing on certain types of stuff like toys, cards and comics. I mean there are price guides for all three (though how exactly these prices are determined is beyond me), but what about stuff that isn’t popular enough to have a price guide?
Lets look at stickers, which when you get right down to it aren’t all that different from toys. With toys you’ve got three basic conditions, mint in box/mint on card (which could be professionally graded and hermetically sealed in a plastic box which quadruples it’s worth), mint with accessories included (though removed from its original packaging), or just plain played with to hell and back which may or may not include original stickers, weapons or accessories and probably is in need of a good paint touch-up. I’m sure there are like a million other classifications for toy condition, but lets face it, those are the three that matter. Stickers pretty much come in the same basic conditions, mint in package, mint and never removed from its backing, and used (stuck on some miscellaneous piece of plastic, wood or paper.)
That there are even people out there that have 20 year old stickers in the original packages amazes me to no end, but there are and frankly when buying them, this is what I shoot for. So how does one go about pricing stickers in these three categories? Obviously mint in package would be the most expensive, but how does one gauge the value of a sticker. Is it based on image or design? Is it based on rarity? How does one ascertain a sticker’s rarity in the first place? So far I don’t think anyone really knows the answer to this question because I’ve seen the entire gamut on Ebay. I’ve seen people chucking up ‘Buy It Now’ auctions for My Little Pony stickers starting at $24 for one mint package of four stickers. That’s like $6 a sticker. Think about that. I’ve also seen some sets of stickers, like the Topps Puffy Monstickers (that came out in 1980 and were puffy sticker reproductions of the Ugly Stickers that made in the 60s and 70s) selling for $90. I mean 68 1.5"x1.5" stickers selling for almost a C note, and they’re second (or possibly third) printings of the images, and not even the full image. Crazy.
Add to this people who have no idea what it is they’re selling in terms of collect-ability or value as a product to the buyer. I see so many people putting up lots of the same stickers with just this side of uncomfortable prices. There is a guy selling mint packages of stickers, 10 packages (20 sheets) of the exact same stickers. Who needs 20 sheets of stickers that have a 90% chance of not being sticky anymore? One sheet I can understand. One package of two sheets I can under stand, for that whole MOC mentality. But 10 packages of 2 sheets, no, I don’t understand that.
I think this last type of seller bums me out the most, because Ebay is geared toward not haggling and not approaching sellers to change their auctions. The guy above had like 15 different auctions for the exact same set of 10 packages of stickers (he apparently came across a case or something). The ‘Buy It Now’ price is $15. How does a fella go about getting one package of these stickers from this seller? Ebay makes it pretty impossible, at least without breaking their comfort-ability guidelines. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining or anything, it’s just one of those weird things about collecting, in this case selling, that I don’t understand. You think he’d try and offer these in different quantities, unless his goal is purely for resell-ability (I’m all up in ‘-ability’s grill today) in which case it kind of sucks, because is there anyone out there beside me that wants these things? I don’t think I’d be willing to part with the $15 to find out.