Friday, April 4, 2014


For those of you who read our "Sincerely Vintage" column by Cathie Cox on line, here it is. Watch for a new Sincerely Vintage column each month in the 
For the New Century Collector: by Cathie Cox

As a flea market organizer, one of the most common questions I hear from my vendors is, “What should I price this (fill-in-the-blank) at?”, It’s not always an easy answer, since   antique/vintage/collectible pricing depends on several variables.  Here are a few ideas to help demystify pricing your vintage treasures for resale.

My first bit of advice to flea market/antique dealers is to always price every item, or post a “group” price if you have several “like” items. Few customers like to ask about prices, and many will walk away rather than approach you about it.

Don’t get stuck on what you paid for the item.  If you get a killer deal on something valuable, it doesn’t make sense to price it low simply because you paid so little for it. Likewise, pricing something high because you paid too much for it – for whatever reason – will frequently result in bringing the item home with you when it doesn’t sell. Better to price it reasonably than to have it permanently parked in your garage.

To discover what “the going rate” is for your merchandise, do your homework to research prices by attending flea markets and antique shows and visiting local shops.  You’ll get a good feel for what customers will pay and you can price your items within reason.

When doing that homework, check out eBay’s “completed listings” feature, which will tell you what things are really selling for.  To use this feature type your item into the search bar, such as “Vintage American Tourister red train case.”  My practice search came up with six of them in the style I wanted, selling between $19 and $75. Then, go to the left side of your screen and scroll down to “Show only” and check the box labeled “Completed Listings.”  This time I found 19 train cases, of which 14 had sold at prices ranging from $8 all the way up to $60.  I usually look for an average price – in this case they clustered around $25.  Now you have a good starting point for pricing the one you want to sell.

For vintage books, my go-to place is  You type in the title and author of the book you’re selling, and within seconds you’ll be looking at asking prices from virtually every online bookseller.  Be careful to spell all words correctly, and check the copyright date against the editions listed.  Keep in mind that the prices you see are asking prices, not selling prices, so price your book according to the qualifiers below.

You can also look up your item in the myriad of antiques and collectibles guide books, such as Kovel’s and Warman’s.  Make sure you are looking in the most recent edition available, and remember that the prices listed might reflect insurance value rather than a reasonable selling price.

However, there are a few qualifiers to each of these “research” methods: 

       First, where are you going to sell your items?  You can usually get a little more at an antique show, a bit less at a flea market, and bargain basement at a yard sale
        Next, how does your item sell in Utah?  And additionally, what price can you get in Salt Lake as opposed to in more rural parts of the state?   Utah prices are significantly lower than in California, for instance, so make sure you don’t put California prices on your merchandise unless you’re headed for the Rose Bowl.

      •  What season is it?  Patio furniture will command a higher price in the spring, but if you still have it in late fall, you’ll have to lower your price in order to not store it over the winter.

        What condition is your item in?  If that red train case includes the original mirror and keys, and is free of scratches, price it up.  If the mirror is missing or the fabric torn, ask less.

      •  What’s the “supply and demand” for your items?  Do four other dealers at the flea market also have red train cases?  Then price yours competitively and perhaps a bit lower.  Is yours the only one?  And, are the customers hungry for red vintage luggage?  Yes?? Then price it higher!

A few final thoughts. . . .
Remember that many customers like to haggle, so leave a little “wiggle room” in your prices. Offer discounts  to  customers who  seem  interested but hesitant – taking  off  just a dollar or two could make”  the sale.  Be  careful  about  offering  deep  discounts at the beginning of the sale.  And be sure to put your business card or a flyer in the bag with  each purchase, which can  open  the door for repeat customers and future business. 

Sincerely, Cathie