The Internet has changed some of the ways collectors do business. What the Internet hasnít done is alter the important basic rules that every buyer and seller should understand and heed.
Know the seller. We all dream about running into some bumpkin who has no idea what theyíre selling and are willing to part with it for a song. Some Internet traders may play dumb, but if you assume they are youíre the one lacking intellect. Whenever possible, contact sellers by email or phone. Ask questions. How the seller responds can be more instructive than the answers they give. If they seem evasive or too busy to do business by traditional methods take the hint and shop elsewhere.
Assume every seller is a well-connected dealer. Dealers have been responsible for helping enthusiasts build exceptional collections. One of the greatest assets anyone can acquire is genuine concern and assistance from an experienced dealer. Yes, the dealer will profit from the association, but in return they can provide information and guidance that will, in the long run, more than compensate for any commissions you have paid. If allowing anyone to profit from the purchases youíve made doesnít seem appealing what should you expect when it becomes your turn to sell?
Would you sell anything today if you knew it would be worth more tomorrow? There can be many reasons why a seller decides to part with something. None of these reasons should be the concern of the buyer. The sellerís asking price, or their sales pitch, should not influence your opinion of an objectís worth. Do your research and establish values before doing any serious shopping.
It is logical and reasonable to assume that sellers using the Internet have previously explored other markets. If I can move everything I buy at my perpetual garage sale there is no reason to go to the cost and effort required to offer things on the Internet. If I have developed a strong customer base by using traditional marketing methods there is little reason to expand my business unless Iíve determined that getting involved with the various Internet venues will increase profits.
The first things I wish to sell are those that have been gathering dust in my inventory. Based on my research, many sellers view Internet venues as a dumping ground and a way to rid themselves of stale inventory. An established dealer who has been in contact with serious collectors would never offer a fresh purchase on the Internet without first making it available to regular, dependable customers.
Do I sound negative? I prefer to consider myself a wide-eyed realist. The Internet is offering some wonderful opportunities, but the common sense rules that have always applied to the business side of our hobby havenít changed.