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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Part 2: Selling that high $$ stuff

Before I get into this, I wanted to share a comment from Buzz (what do you mean you don’t follow me in google buzz? Check me out as “mnfaubel”)

Funder: Great post. I'm interested to know if you've done the "what my time is worth" calculation on this, and if so did you come out ahead? Like if you spend 2 hours taking pics, listing, corresponding, and shipping a $10 bridle, your free time is worth $5/hr. I have a firm $10/hr my-time rate - if I don't think I can make $10/hr selling something, I'll gift/trash/donate it.

Me back in. I do consider my personal time cost, although I had never thought of a hard figure for it. However, this is a good way of explaining the difference between my 3 piles.

The high dollar pile is the stuff that is worth my time to clean, take multiple pics, develop flyers, and take the time to respond to detailed inquires.

For the “make it go away pile” discussed yesterday - because I had a mix of high and low items and everything huge pile in one location, I didn't spend a lot of time with each item - thus it was an assembly line effect: write it down, take a picture, write the next item down, take a picture etc. I also had a system for keeping track of items during inquires - once there was an inquiry on an object and I dug it out of the pile, it went in a different container - that way if it sold I didn't have to find it again, and there was a chance that if one person was interested, then if it didn't sell, I would quickly get another inquiry. It also keep track of items that might already be spoken for – I didn’t show tack with pending online inquiries to local people coming to look at tack.

That $/hour figure is why I didn't clean anything in my “make it go away pile”. I ended up washing the english pads and quilts later on because I was doing a load of laundry and I could, but for the prices I was selling, I wasn't cleaning because that WOULD take a lot of time.

The pile I mentioned that wasn't worth listing? That's what I'm giving away mostly for free. In some cases it's a "penalty" pile. LOL. When my dad stacked up a pile and offered $10, I dumped a bunch of stuff from my penalty pile on it and said, "NOW it's worth $10!"

I’m not sure what my “personal rate of pay” cut off is, but I have a feeling it’s in the neighborhood of $10/hour. I think so far my "move it out the door tack" personal rate ($/hour) is somewhere in the neighborhood of $40, which is darn good. I could spend more time getting more $$ out of the tack, but my personal rate of pay would go down….and at this point, time is precious so a higher rate of pay per hour is a good thing.

Onto Part 2! Selling that high $$ stuff
Once the tack sales from the “make it go away pile” calms down to a dull roar, I turn my attention to the items that I want to get close to what they are worth. Currently, I have one such item: A 1863 repro McClellan saddle, most of which comes from a well-known saddle maker, Doug Kidd.

1. Decide on a price. You actually need to decide on two prices: The “fair market value” and the price you are going to try and sell the item for. How similar the prices are will depend on how fast you need to move the item, and how much work you are willing to put into advertising it. Fair market value is the price that the saddles are ACTUALLY selling for – not what you *think* they *should* be selling for. It should be the price that you could sell for today if you spent the appropriate time advertising and promoting it. I use a combination of talking to people I respect and who intimately *know* the hobby/sport, and searching on line for similar sales. In my case, the saddle is probably worth $1200 or a bit more, so I will ask $1000 for it. I love the saddle and I don’t need to move it enough to take a huge sacrifice in price for it.

2. Decide on the terms. Is your price firm? Are you willing to give a “trial period”? How will you ship?

3. Take lots of pictures. Lots and lots and lots. Don’t post all pictures in your initial ad, but keep them handy so you can immediately send the interested buyer specific pictures upon request. Good pictures are important. Keep taking pictures until you have a set of pics you can send to potential buyers without apologizing for them.

4. Be very detailed in your ad. In my case, some of the pieces are made by Doug Kidd, some are not. I clearly explain which pieces are, and which aren’t (and are inferior quality to Doug’s stuff).

5. Advertise: Decide where to advertise online. To tell you the truth, I usually don’t use craigslist for these types of items. It’s just not worth my time. I also don’t list on general horse sites, unless I know that the specific group of people that would be interested in such an item exist in that forum or site. The McClellan saddle is a specialty item that would interest a specific group of people, and I tend to list it places that I know those people are: newsletters for local civil war reenactment groups/Calvary groups and their websites. If there is an extra charge for a picture ad, I usually just post a text ad. Most buyers who are looking for an item browse both types and in today’s world it’s easy enough to quickly send an e-mail asking for pics.

6. Advertise: Flyers. I will make physical flyers for high $$ items and post at various locations. It is my belief that if you do post flyers, than you *should* go back and take all the flyers down when the item has sold. J I like black and white flyers that are simple, well designed, and have tear offs on the bottom for contact information. I put them on feed stores, at my vet’s office, and anywhere else I happen to be that has a remote connection to the object or use for the object (in this case, horse related or military history related places).

7. Advertise: Personal connections. Likely you know people that are “in the industry”. Even if you know they won’t be interested in the item, likely they would be willing to pass the information along to others within the sport/hobby. Make sure you provide them with clear information. Nothing is worse than having an inquiry come back about the object and they have all sorts of wrong information – from the price to what the item actually is! I like to attach a copy of the flyer to the e-mail, or hand them a stack of flyers.

I think the biggest difference between marketing a high $$ item and moving your big pile of stuff is the approach. For the high $$ item I am actively soliciting buyers – I think of myself as a small business that goes out and makes it happen through personal connections, being professional, and advertising in the right way at the right places. The big pile of stuff is about price points, and being ruthlessly efficient about information and pictures – you try to keep you time investment as low as possible, so your pay off is as high as possible.

Next up is…..
Part 3: What to do with the leftovers


  1. For the repro saddle, you might want to contact some of the Civil War re- enactor groups - they use those saddles.

  2. I did not think of this before, and you may have thought of it already, but put an article in the Cannon's Mouth for the McClellan.

    Mike sends that out to a wide group of people in the California reeacting community. (And don't show it to me...I already bought your earlier cast-off!)



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