Sunday, February 9, 2014

Used Goods

What price is second-hand?

In my days of youth second-hand was half of what the item would sell at retail.  Then the price would then go down according to condition and availability of the product.  Of course it could also go up depending on availability or desirability.

I seem to be in the minority when it comes to what is deemed an acceptable used price.  I watch a lot of “pawn broker” shows on cable so I’ve a fair indication of what prices should be for things.  However, I am not a person who enjoys haggling with others; it’s not in my nature.  I set a price; I base it on my understanding of what the market should be.

It worries me where the expectation of what people seem to expect their goods to sell for is debatable by my standards.  People always tell me that I should just expect to see prices go for what the market dictates.  Yet it amazes me that people are either brain dead or have too much money.  I think possibly a bit of both.

My gauge for what prices are would be based on how I would be doing business (this would be my business model if I was running my second good shop).  I look at the “retail” price, half it, and then halve it again, so 25% of what the item is “worth” is starting value.  I then devalue the price on condition and availability.  I know that in the used book market, popular authors are hard to sell.  When I have visited a shop I have regular dealings with I have seen on a number of occasions people turned away because they have 10 copies of an author already in stock.  There is only so much space that one can dedicate to stock.  It’s also a drain on resources tied up waiting for sale or trades. 

The problem I see here in Australia is that being at the arse end of the world availability can be an issue.  Unlike Europe/UK and the USA who have large populations and markets, items can sell for far less than what Australians are prepared to buy or sell for.  Of course with the internet and the ability to purchase and sell online there is the perceived notion that prices are fluid and you can find a bargain anywhere.  The difficulty with this is that while you may get a bargain, the cost of postage can almost equal or exceed the bargain you just snagged, in which case buying locally at inflated prices may even seem acceptable.

So where am I going with this?  Nowhere I suspect as ultimately people will pay or ask what they want.  Yet I think that this notion of greed is what has driven the world to the sorry state that it is in.  Nobody is happy with just enough, they want excess and will not be happy with anything else.

An example of this is the charity organisation.  I have noticed or to be more precise advised by my wife that the price charities are asking for goods (namely clothing) is excessive.  Considering where they obtain their goods (through charitable donation) asking premium prices is a bit rich.  Charities are more like a business these days, and whether the poor or disadvantaged are truly provided for is debatable.  I have found that where charities have outlets in shopping centres, the prices are high.  So why have a shop there in the first place?

I now turn my attention to my hobby.  The difficulty I find here in Australia is that the isolation compared to the rest of the world (and by that I mean market wise) cannot be more stark in contrast.  Yes I know people always tell me that the internet has opened up the possibilities, but there is still the risk, particularly where unknowns are at play.  Difficulties arise when local buyers and sellers want to use whichever values they like to justify their position.  Me I generally go on the local conditions.  I generally sell more than I buy, when I buy it’s for a price I’m willing to pay.  When I sell it’s to sell an item, I’ve never priced my sales for optimum price, they are marked to sell and where I have been at places to sell my goods with others, I always seem to do better than others.  In other words I go home with cash in my pocket, where generally others get to take home their goods unsold. 

Trading is a new experience for me, one that I most likely won’t pursue in future.  It’s difficult to find common ground and come to an agreement that both parties are mutually happy with.  As I said earlier in this piece, I don’t come from a haggling culture, it’s unnatural to me.  It reminds me of a show “Barter Kings” on cable, someone always looses when it comes to the final deal.  Someone generally has to give in to sweeten the deal enough that the other party closes the trade.  It’s an interesting option as opposed to buying and selling and it is an option I would only recommend to people who are comfortable in negotiating.

Sadly I am an individual whose standards and ethics don’t fit into today’s society, probably why I get so desperate to leave it at times.  People (generally speaking) will always be out to make a profit that suites them, be it monetarily, morally or purely for ego.  Don’t get me wrong by thinking I’m altruistic, I’m just as greedy as the next man when it comes to obtaining things I want, it’s just that I have a set of standards I live my life by.  I am after all, not common.

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