Collectibles Online Selling - The Time Element

From: Bothell Jewelers & Collectibles
Published: Tue May 31 2005

Bothell, WA. May 31, 2005 - The following is a new perspective regarding selling online in the antique and collectibles business from a shop owner and online seller, Rachman Cantrell, owner of 'Bothell Jewelers and Collectibles', a very unique antique, jewelry and collectible store in a small town just outside of Seattle, Washington. He currently has a couple of online shops, at the Tias antique and collectible mall, and from the Trocadero Mall. Mr. Cantrell has been in the retail jewelry and collectible business for most of his life but only selling online for about five years. He does not consider himself an expert in that realm but he does have an interesting viewpoint on how to determine profitability in this field and believes his experience is a good example of what a normal person goes through when trying to sell online, "I don't have the secret key to making huge amounts of money through the Internet and I am very leary of anyone who would make that kind of claim. It is a hard business, if that is what you are hoping to make of it, and very time consuming."

There are plenty of collectibles and antiques to be sold, but what about the actual process of putting something online and selling it? First and formost, one must consider the time element in thinking of online selling as a business. What does one get in return for the time put in? Most people don't seem to consider time in the equation, and even some well established sellers ignore that part of the online selling picture. The fact is that time is the key element to measuring success in this kind of work.
Consider the actual amount of time involved in finding an item, taking pictures of it, writing a description and getting it put onto a web or auction site. Then also consider if that item does sell, the additional time required to verify payment, respond to the buyer, collect the money and pack and ship the merchandise.

Mr. Cantrell says that an hour for each item that is sold and a half hour for each item listed, whether it is sold or not, is a fair estimate of the real time required. If one considers this as a business and has a reasonable expectation of some sort of hourly wage, say $10.00 per hour for example, there has to be a minimum selling price for each item to reach a break-even point, and an even higher amount to actually make a profit!

For example, if a person has a figurine that was bought at a garage sale for a dollar and sells it online for five dollars one would assume there is a $4.00 profit. Add time to the equation and that person has already lost money because the most he can gain from the sale is four dollars for an hour of work. It is actually worse than that though because in order to sell one item he usually has to list at least ten! So now we are talking about nine items at thirty minutes each plus an hour for the item that sells which breaks down to five and a half hours of time to sell one $5.00 item, and that does not even take into effect other costs such as Paypal and credit card processing fees, advertising, utilities, interest, insurance, packing materials, storage costs, web hosting and auction fees, etc. Even if the per item price is up to around $20.00 it still works out to be less than minimum wage. The process starts making more sense when the items hit the $40.00 to $50.00 mark and profitability starts showing its' lovely head. Higher prices bring more profits but as prices rise the likelihood of selling an item decreases. Higher priced items do sell on occasion, but it is a rare one. The larger orders do help to bring up the average price though, even if there is a long wait between sales.

The bottom line in all of this from Mr. Cantrell's perspective is that one should not expect big profits from an online collectibles business. If a person loves this kind of work and does not mind putting in the time, it is a fun hobby that can make a little money. For most though, regarding it as a profit making enterprise takes a great stretch of the imagination.

Company: Bothell Jewelers & Collectibles
Contact Name: Rachman Cantrell, Owner
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 425-487-2900

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