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Tuesday, 2.1.05: Tom's Store

Let me start out by saying that I don't need more stuff to sell. I am sitting on a lifetime of inventory and the number of auctions I put up each day is limited only by the processing speed of my brain and my fingers.

On the other hand, over Christmas, I did have a conversation with my brother Tom encouraging him to learn more about ebay and offering to auction off a few of his goodies to see what they might bring. He has a good eye and has been picking things out of trashcans in the alley since he was five. My mother has been known to refer to him as "Sanford," after the cantankerous TV junk dealer played by Redd Foxx.

But (especially in these internet savvy days) he doesn't have much feel for the market. Like all of us, he has his fantasies of striking it rich based on somebody's brainless discard. But "getting lucky" in the flea market may mean that out of a hundred rescued postcards, 1 gets you $10 , 5 get you $5 each, and 10 get you a buck each. Sanford worked hard for his luxuries.

Anyway, Tom finally sent me a small stack of finds -- lots of interesting little orphans in need of good homes. Most are postcards. His early 20th century French cards are marred by the fact that someone had glued them to black album pages, which, on the other hand preserved them from worn edges. If, instead of black residue, the backs had stamps and clear postmarks and little messages, they might sell very fast. We'll see what the marketplace has to say -- if the cards are rare, people might not mind the scruffed up backs.

My fascination and determination to get up some test auctions made me stay up too late. By midnight I had researched and posted 9 items for auction: 8 assorted postcards and a 1908 map of Boston. Worst case scenario: everything sells for the starting bid of 99 cents (since it cost 55 cents to list them, 16 cents final value cut for ebay, and 35 cents if the buyer pays through Paypal -- leaving a profit too sad to calculate -- though I do charge $2 for shipping and handling and postage is only 50 cents). Having no bidders is better than one bidder. If there are no bidders, I can put the item in our store with $5 - $10 price tags. The fixed-price items are harder to find than the auctions, but costs only 3 cents a month to leave something listed there till an interested buyer comes along. Best case scenario... we can only dream, but I think the "jackpot" for these 9 items would be $45.

You can check out these auctions in a special corner of Price & Zimmer: Tom's Store. If, by next Monday afternoon you see these items have single bids of $.99, open up your wallets and kick in $1.05 to save these gems for better days.



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