The Economics of Collecting Pt. 4: Buyer Be Aware

We've made a budget, weeded through our collection, sold off dolls we don't play with and now find ourselves with some spending money. Talk about feeling the burn! I'm sure you're just sitting there thinking of all the new dolls you can get. In the past we might have gone straight to eBay to see what we could pick up (oooh! $199 for a deboxed Catwoman! Great!) but that was old Us, undisciplined Us, unaware Us. This time around we're going to be smarter and here's how: 

1. Before you buy anything, look at how much money you have in your "doll account". Look at the prioritized "Want" list you made in week one. Is there enough in there to get #1? Will you happier going after #6 & #8? Do you still want these dolls or do you need to re-prioritize? To help, visualize the feeling of actually having the doll in your hands; seeing her in person; having her in your display case. If you won't love her in the morning, bump her down the list.

2. Assess your financial situation as well. Is there enough in there to pay a nagging bill and pick up a doll off your list? I recommend this option before all others as you won't be able to properly enjoy any purchase if that bill is in the back of your head. Remember: The "doll account" has a one way door. You are not to transfer money into it for dolls. Your collection should be self sustainable. But by all means feel free to use that money for utilities if you have to.

3. If you've decided to try for #1 grail doll and you don't have the cash on hand then look around for more dolls to leave the island. You want to be ready to jump on that doll when she becomes available.

4. If you've decided to aim for #3 and have the cash ready, the next step is to research prices. Look at previous auctions on eBay and listings on the boards to see what the going rate is.

5. Set a price you are willing to pay and do not go over it.  #1 gets a little wiggle room but anything #3 and down gets a firm price and here's why: I have been collecting dolls in one shape or another for 27 years. If I have learned anything it's this: If you sit by the river long enough you will see the dolls you want to buy at the price you want to pay float by. Chalk Whites, Enchanted Dolls, repaints, I've seen it all and now know and trust that dolls we never thought possible do pop up for reasonable prices. It's just up to us to have patience.

6. You were able to acquire #3. Congratulations! If you didn't sell off some dolls to raise the funds then now is the time to do so. A responsible collector practices One In, One Out. This keeps the collection manageable and funds available so look over your dolls and decide who #3 is replacing.

7. Pre-orders: They have the possibility to burn you or make your day. Before you commit to pre-ordering a doll think about these criteria first.

  1. For edition sizes of 100-300 for a doll you adore, pre-ordering is a good idea. This ensures you that you will get the doll you love and if you end up not loving her, you won't lose money reselling her. 
  2. Just say no to anything over 500. I can't tell you how many times I've pre-ordered a doll with edition sizes from 500-1500 and gotten burned for at least $30 as soon as they're delivered. If you just wait until they are released you can save sometimes 1/3 off the retail price; wait 6 months and you'll sometimes find them 1/2 off. 
  3. Add it up: Does the retail price of a dressed doll make sense? Take the price you think you can sell the nude doll for and add it to what you think you can sell the dress for. The price of the nude depends on the sculpt, the hair color and availability. For this example we'll use Wentworth Dynasty, LE 500, retail cost $174.99. You've got a blonde Tyler sculpt which might net you $50 (not the most popular sculpt and there are tons out there) and a black suit which might net you $45-$75. Even if your retailer offers her for $150, you are still losing money. Better to wait until she hits the secondary market and pick her up for cheap. 
8. Try to stay away from buying with a credit card at all costs. If you have to, make sure you pay it off with your "doll account" money immediately. The interest on a $500 purchase can be anywhere from $50-100, or to put it in doll terms, 1-3 new dolls, 3 pairs of Kenya shoes, Superfrock's PolyViolet (on sale), 2 Chewin or Patta wigs, 2-5 pairs of Kimberlee's jeans...you get my point.

Hopefully this has added some balance to your impulse buying. If you manage to at least have these suggestions in mind when you go to buy, you're headed in the right direction. In my final installment I'll cover any points I might have missed and talk about something no one wants to talk about. Til next week!


MJ said...

What you wrote is so true and wonderful advice! :-) I also like to keep that if you buy it because you love it, it's never going to be a bad purchase, regardless of the market value when I shop too. :-)

Sam said...

It's true, Matty! Which is why you always have to review your grail list to see if they still own your heart :)