WE THOUGHT THOSE WHO FOLLOW
CATHIE COX'S COLUMN IN THE NEW CENTURY COLLECTOR MIGHT WANT TO TAKE AN EARLY PEEK, SO.................. HERRRE'S CATHIE!
While running flea markets for the past few years a concern I’ve often heard from new dealers is, “How do I price my items?” They are often stymied by this – and rightly so – since the price of an item can make or break the sale. What’s a dealer to do? If you price too high you’ll lose sales. But if you price too low you’ll lose profits. So – just how do you figure out if “the price is right?”. Remember, an item is only worth what the customer is willing to pay. So even when the collectibles guide says that my tomato juice pitcher is worth $25, if my customers look at the price tag and walk away, it’s not worth that much. Here’s how I decide what prices I can realistically get for my items:
1. My favorite source for pricing is eBay’s“ sold listings.” This will show you what people actually paid for items, not just the asking price. When I looked up my tomato juice pitcher, out of about 150 completed listings, only 10 had sold and most of those were between $3 and $10. This tells me that the pitchers are not a hot item and if I price it at “book value” I’ll be sitting on it for quite a while.
2. Scour flea markets and antique stores looking for items that you need prices for. Keep in mind, though, that every dealer has their own ideas about what the “right" price is.
3. Talk to other dealers or collectors who know the category you need a price in. They know the local market.
4. Be very careful about pricing your items based on TV shows such as Antiques Roadshow or American Pickers. These shows are entertainment, and not practical for use as pricing guides.
5. Don’t overspend when buying merchandise, it will come back to haunt you when pricing. I recently spent too much on an awesome industrial office chair because I was drawn to its interesting design elements. Customers passed it over for two days at a recent show after looking at the price tag. So now I have to choose – take a loss or find a spot in my house for it. . . .
6. Don’t price your items based on sentiment. Have you ever been to a sale where you ask a price and the seller tells you the story about how his grandma used that bowl to make buttermilk biscuits in? If it's sentimental, keep it don't sell it.
7. Where are you going to sell your item? People will often pay different amounts at antiques shows than flea markets. Remember to leave a little “wiggle” room in your prices since many customers like to haggle.
8. Lastly, put a price tag on everything! My pet peeve is having to ask the dealer the price of an item I’m interested in. I don’t like asking prices – if items aren’t priced I tend to move on to the next booth. Don’t lose sales because your items aren’t priced!
Have fun while pricing your vintage treasures. You’re pricing them to go to a sale, after all, and isn’t that the reason we collect in the first place.