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Collectors increasingly looking to turn possessions into cash

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Old February 1st 09, 02:44 PM posted to rec.collecting.coins
Arizona Coin Collector
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Posts: 1,199
Default Collectors increasingly looking to turn possessions into cash


Collectors increasingly looking to turn possessions into cash

Sunday, February 1, 2009
By Sara Foss (Contact)
Gazette Reporter

CAPITAL REGION - Theresa Ruege's house is filled with
collectibles: stuffed animals, plates, historic
newspapers, even swords.

Now Ruege is trying to sell some of her collectibles
on the popular Web site Craigslist. Recently, she
advertised a Schenectady bicentennial collector's
plate for $25 - "The plate is in wonderful
condition!" - and a FAO Schwartz 1996 George
Washington Barbie doll for $20 that has "never
been removed from her box and is in MINT
CONDITION." In December, she sold an unopened
Star Trek game on Craigslist.

Ruege, 29, of Schenectady, said she's running out
of room for all of her things, which is why she's
decided to get rid of some of them.

"I accumulate things," she said. "I accumulate
things, and then I run out of room."

But Ruege has another reason for selling.

"With how tight things have been, the extra cash
always helps," she said. "I don't have a car. Cabs
are expensive. The bus fares are going up."

She said she doesn't know whether she'll try to
sell off any more of her collectibles.

"I don't like getting rid of stuff," she said. "It
depends on how tight things are going to get."

Ruege isn't the only person trying to downsize
on Craigslist. Over the past year, the number of
collectibles postings on Craigslist's Albany site
have doubled, from 951 postings in December 2007
to 1,889 in December 2008, according to the company.

A growing number of needy people are also trying
to sell collectibles at area antique stores,
according to local dealers.

What many of these people don't understand, they
said, is that during the past decade, the
collectibles market has collapsed as a result of
the popularity of sites such as Craigslist and
eBay, the online auction site. Items that were
once difficult to find, and thus considered somewhat
rare, are now widely available and a lot less valuable.

"We're not seeing more people, but we're seeing
more people who are obviously desperate," said
Mark Lawson, of Mark Lawson Antiques of Saratoga
Springs, which sponsors "Antiques Roadshow" on
PBS affiliate WMHT TV-17. "We're seeing more people
who have lost their jobs, or can't afford higher
prices, or are struggling."

Lawson has seen desperate people before but
never so many.

"Every once in a while, someone would come in who
was in a jam. Often, they were elderly and needed
to pay property taxes. Lately, I've been seeing
more and more younger people, people in their
20s or 30s or 40s," he said. "Because of the
economy, people are desperate to raise money to
live or get by on. That's really new."

Lawson said many of these people bring him items
that are "worth little or nothing."

"Because of the Internet, collectibles that used
to have good value have lost value," he said.

Slumping values

A Hummel figurine that was once worth between
$100 to $200 is now worth between $25 to $30,
he said.

A Waterford crystal glass that once sold for $50
now sells for $10 to $15.

"We're getting desperate people who, when they
finally decide to sell a collection that 10 years
ago was worth $1,000, now find that it's now
worth $100," he said.

Dealing with that disappointment "is the hardest
part of the job," he said. "You can see the
desperation when you tell them their collection
is not worth very much."

Some antiques dealers report no change in the
number of customers contacting them.

Nancy Toomer, who owns House of Rose Antiques in
Niskayuna, said she has not been getting more
calls from desperate would-be-sellers, although
a woman who called earlier this week wanted to
sell her Swarovski crystal collection for bill

But most of the people who call Toomer are
downsizing after a parent or grandparent has
passed away.

"EBay has hurt the market tremendously," Toomer
said. "I'm not going to buy Hummels unless the
person is greatly aware that Hummels have
depreciated in price."

She said she encourages young people to
start collecting.

"We need more collectors," she said.

"It's just not fashionable to collect anymore,"
said David Ornstein, co-owner of the
Albany-based New Scotland Antiques. "People are
still collecting, but they're the people who have
been collecting for a while. Their tastes are
sophisticated, and they want what's truly rare."

And because of the Internet, few items are
truly rare.

"There are 10,000 Hummels every day on eBay,"
Ornstein said. "Only 5 percent of them sell."

Shifting market

Ornstein said that few people are aware of how
the antiques market has changed.

Items that used to sell quite well, such as
Victorian furniture, no longer have a market,
while high-end oil paintings, sculptures, Oriental
rugs and mid-century quality items continue to
do well.

"The tastes of people have changed," he said.
"People between the ages of 25 and 40 are buying
the stuff they think is old."

He said he recently visited a woman who wanted
to sell him a Victorian marble-top table.
Thinking he could resell it for $150, he offered
her $100. But she thought the price was too low.

"She thinks people are trying to cheat her," he
said. "The only thing people know is the
'Antiques Roadshow.'?"

Ornstein said New Scotland Antiques has adjusted
its buying prices so that it can sell items for
less, but it's still a struggle.

Five years ago, he would have purchased a Mahogany
dining set for $400 to $1,000, but the market for
such dining sets has disappeared.

"We don't sell them," he said. "We've got to give
them away. It doesn't matter what the price is if
there's no buyer."

"Rigor mortis has set in," Ornstein said of the
antiques business. "We're caught in a tunnel we
can see no end to, and I've been in this business
30 years."

He said New Scotland Antiques sells a lot of
items on eBay.

"You have to look and see what's selling," he
said. "We sell anything people are still buying."

Yet even eBay isn't doing as well as it once was.

Earlier this month, eBay Inc. reported that its
net profit in the fourth quarter fell to $367
million from $531 million a year earlier.

Sell, sell, sell

People are also trying to sell old coins and
jewelry for cash. Olde Saratoga Coin in Colonie
is running a billboard advertisement that
encourages people with gold and silver to sell
to visit the shop.

Don Kernacki, Olde Saratoga's general manager,
said that for the past year, there's been a
steady stream of interested sellers.

"It started when oil prices were going up," he
said. "The way the economy is, it keeps going
and going."

Kathy Fitzmaurice, owner of The Katbird Shop in
Schenectady, which sells crafts, antiques and
collectibles, said that in the past week,
there's been an uptick in the number of calls
from people who want to know if she buys
antiques. (She doesn't, but she rents her back
rooms and basement to people who do.)

She said she also received more calls when gas
prices were higher.

Al Itskov, the owner of Al's House of
Sportscards & Fine Collectibles on Union Street
in Schenectady, said that "a lot of people are
trying to sell junk. They're holding onto the
good stuff."

A lot of people, he said, "think they've got
a fortune."

Teen customers

Most of his customers, Itskov said, are
kids - 14- and 15-year-olds.

"They have more disposable income than the average
adult," he said. "The average adult is thinking
about they're going to pay their heating bill."

Dan Brooks, 18, of Broadalbin, is trying to sell
his Yu-Gi-Oh trading cards through Craigslist. He
said he started collecting the cards about four
years ago, when it was "the cool thing to do."

"I want to sell them now because I'm 18 and have
less use for them," explained Brooks, who works
as a customer service representative at Amsterdam
Printing and Litho, in an e-mail. "Trying to find
a hobby shop that actually wants to trade with
you is difficult enough, and when I couldn't get
any more good cards, I just stopped
playing. ... Now I need the money and these cards
have been in my closet collecting dust. There are
some good cards in there that might actually be
worth something. But I figure since I'm not using
them, let somebody else have some fun."


Old February 1st 09, 03:03 PM posted to rec.collecting.coins
external usenet poster
Posts: 3,507
Default Collectors increasingly looking to turn possessions into cash

A lot of people are desperate, for awhile it was because of gas prices
but now it is just the overall bad economy
and job loss or being cut back to part time or loss of benefits that
are driving people to sell, many for whatever
they can get. Antiques Roadshow is fun to watch but many people
watch that and think they have something
worth a fortune but many times they don't.

In my area a local publication "Wheeler Dealer" has a huge number of
ATV's, snowmobiles, travel trailers etc.
for sale as people desperate for cash are trying to unload what they
don't really need.

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