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Can Dealers Compete With Ebay?

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Posted 10/11/2015   12:22 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add dcaraz1949 to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I wonder...

What the stamp market actually looks like today for most collectors?

What percentage of the stamp collecting buyer market has transitioned to online platforms such as eBay?

What is the current role of the traditional stamp dealer?

And how important are dealers who direct mail their inventory buy lists to targeted collectors?

Since 2010, I have been seriously building my collection of US Classics. Starting first with affordable albums I have moved from classics, to include 1940's through 1970's, and expanded into BOB and Revenues. Relying on eBay auctions and making best offers I have purchased numerous albums and lots as the foundation of my collection. Now I'm purchasing older single stamps in order to fill gas.

Honestly, as much as I would like to support stamp dealers -- most of whom are very small owner run businesses -- dealer pricing makes it very difficult to do so.

Recently I purchased 20 single stamp lots of higher value used US stamps from numerous eBay dealers. In each case I compared my eBay purchase price with a dealer list price for the same Scott US cat # and condition. Here are a few examples from my comparison:

US #36 SCV $350 Dealer List: $89 My eBay cost: $12
US #122 SCV $2100 Dealer List: $1000 My eBay cost: $400
US #292 SCV $700 Dealer List: $525 My eBay cost: $230

My conclusion: With apologies to dedicated dealers, my budget can't afford regular buying from dealers. Except in rare cases I'm sticking with online auctions and making best offers.

What are your preferred sources for building your own collections?


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Posted 10/11/2015   12:36 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add KGB to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I always assumed the dealers are on eBay.
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Posted 10/11/2015   1:06 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tlmcca to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I have only one brick-and-mortar store within an hour's drive so online purchase works best for me.

Terry
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Posted 10/11/2015   1:45 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add sdtom to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
The day of the single owner stamp store is gone, he is now on eBay and attends stamp shows. There is not enough interest in most cases for a store to survive anymore. I think that some of the dealers are now finding that the rules of eBay are affecting the bottom line and they are looking at other ways.
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Posted 10/11/2015   1:55 pm  Show Profile Check Battlestamps's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Battlestamps to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
From just my local area it seems some dealers are fine with traditional sale venues and others mix it with online sales. Some dealers are online and others are not. Some also rely heavily on eBay sales, others have tried and left as they didn't like it for whatever reason. There's two stamp stores in the Albany, NY area and neither are online - Azusa stamp and George McGowan. I know of another show dealer; John Amberman, who traditionally used stamp shows and mailing lists, but has found the latter to be less useful as his buyers are dying off. He's created his on website and also sells on eBay. He doesn't attend the shows much anymore either. I also know Doubleday does very well with eBay, traditional shows and their own website as well as personal contacts.
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Posted 10/11/2015   1:58 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add sdtom to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
They must own their buildings?
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Posted 10/11/2015   2:01 pm  Show Profile Check Battlestamps's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Battlestamps to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Nope, they rent space in office parks. Cheaper than standard commercial retail spaces.
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Posted 10/11/2015   2:29 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add SPQR to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
dcaraz1949 - I'll admit that there are bargains to be found on eBay, but are you sure you are comparing apples to apples in your comparison between eBay and dealer prices? IMHO eBay grades are typically 1 or even 2 grades higher than reality - that is what a dealer would sell as average is sold as Fine or Fine-Very Fine on eBay. Faults (thins, reperfing, etc.) are much less likely to be noted in eBay listings. I would be very interested to see the #36 you purchased for $12 and the #122 purchased for $400 in comparison to the dealer image or description.
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Posted 10/11/2015   4:05 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ddreisba to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
There are no stamp dealers in the UP of Mich., so I'm buying on line or by mail. I've gotten prices from one or two smaller dealers, and what I consider bargains on eBay. Maybe my ignorance is what maxes me think they are bargains.

Don
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Posted 10/11/2015   4:07 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jim6092252 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Dealers used to be able to make most of their money buying from the public who didnt have internet to look up their own stuff. As a collector you options were limited to a few if any local dealers, mail order and a couple stamp shows a year or a local monthly club. In small towns the dealers did other things for an actual living. In my small town the coin dealer really had a shoe store and the stamp dealer had an appliance store and they sold from a small display in their stores.
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Posted 10/11/2015   4:08 pm  Show Profile Check revenuecollector's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add revenuecollector to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Not only that, but depending on what you collect and what condition level you insist upon, you may not be able to find what you need on eBay. For the average "fill the spot in the album" collector, yes you can likely get by with eBay alone.
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Posted 10/11/2015   4:51 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add pk-short to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Two recent purchases of mine highlight where eBay fits in with the dealers (and I'm including auction houses here): 1) I purchased a "space filler" of Australia SG114 at roughly 10% catalog value on eBay - great looking copy with a major fault, but it looks good until I can afford a better copy 2) I also purchased an Australian SG 10 a few dollars over catalog value with a difficult to find postmark in VF condition directly from a dealer. As you start to specialize in areas, it becomes difficult to find what you want on eBay while increasing your purchases directly from dealer or auctions.
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Posted 10/11/2015   5:17 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add TheArtfulHinger to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Regular, full-time dealers, whether they're mail order or brick-and-mortar, probably can't compete with eBay on price. They have to compete by having a complete stock of their area including high values and harder to find items, selling higher quality stamps, and their reputations as experts in their field, among other things. I buy most of my better stamps on eBay, but there are times when I buy from a non-eBay dealer because I just can't seem to find what I'm looking for on eBay (or Bidstart, etc), even if it's a relatively cheap item. I also prefer to buy from a reputable dealer if I'm buying a stamp that's tricky to identify and/or is prone to fakes and forgeries.
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Posted 10/11/2015   9:25 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add sdtom to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I'm glad they're still able to stay in business.
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Posted 10/11/2015   9:52 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ecmorgan to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Related to this, I find it interesting that our "where to buy" conversations never include from advertisements in Linns and other publications. Does anyone shop the philatelic press anymore?
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Posted 10/13/2015   3:42 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add dcaraz1949 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Many good points made.
SPQR, fair for you ask about quality of the eBay lots I mentioned. I will scan those items and upload when back from a trip I leave for tomorrow.

ecmorgan and KGB, I find the online market includes many full time dealers, and I have repeat purchases from several of these folks who warrant kudos for fast, reliable and ethical transacting.
But I don't see these dealers advertising in Linn's and American Philatelist -- I find dealers that advertise in print media tend to also mail lists, offer auction dates, and attend shows. The online dealers with the most frequent stock that attracts me have seemed to focused their sales primarily online.

Seems like most of us are helping to transition stamp buying to the online auctions/markets. Still. it makes total sense that once we deal with a knowledgeable stamp dealer who can supply some of our wants, trust can become a valuable reason to buy scarce, or difficult to identify issues from a dealer despite their higher prices.

Just to be clear, I posed my questions more to learn what other collectors with more experience are doing to grow their own collections. Since I only began seriously collecting in 2010, I have relied primarily on a number of online dealers. But to be honest, I have seen such a dramatic difference in the higher pricing by the mail order list dealers that I am not so sure I am willing to pay their asking price compared to available lots online.

Still being rather a newcomer I remain surprised by the wide range of various price points for the same issue. While I'm very visual and love the cleaner graphic images of lightly cancelled or mint stamps, I have come to the conclusion that I will only use the qualities of centering, margin or mint vs. used when comparing available issues. Simply put, my collection will include stamps of varied quality because I'd rather complete my set of US Columbians by accepting a fault or lower grade, than having an incomplete set of MNH.
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