The Economics of Collecting Pt. 3: The Zen of Selling

We've made our budget and looked at our collecting habits. Now it's time to objectively view our collection, weed out what we don't use and put it up for sale. But how do you know what to sell or when? We sell for different reasons. Whether it's to make space, make doll money to spend or because we need quick cash, the process is the same. Let's work it out together.

1. When to sell:
Most collectors only sell when they have to; when the stack gets too high or they need money for another doll or need to pay a bill quick. Collectors don't want to part with their "preciousssss" (go on, laugh at yourself 'cause I know I do). However this puts you at the mercy of the market and you might end up selling for much less than the purchase price. It not only leaves you with less cash but also the one-two punch of buyer's remorse followed by seller's guilt as you reflect on your loss. If you continually go through your collection and sell off dolls in a timely manner, not only will the have to point not arrive, but you might actually make some money flipping dolls. 

One key is to practice the Buddhist rule of detachment. Totally defeats the purpose of collecting, right? Not really. Detachment doesn't mean that your collection isn't important to you, just that you appreciate what you have for the time you have it and are satisfied with that enough to let the item go when the time comes. If you can work just a little detachment into your collecting viewpoint you will be better off. 

Detachment goes hand in hand with the second key: sell at the height of the market. If you are looking to make money on your investment you need to be able to sell when you see the prices at their highest, whether you are ready to let the doll go or not. We've all had dolls we've held onto longer than we should, only to have them lose resale value. For example, I bought 7 Mirror Mirror Daphnes at $65 when they were released because it was cheaper and more convenient for me to buy them than to have platinums rerooted to repaint. At their height they were going for $200-250 a piece on the secondary market. I didn't sell. Now you can pick them up for $80-100. They are still worth it to me for repainting purposes so it didn't make sense for me to sell but you get my point. Don't get me started on those damn Holiday Barbies! Most dolls in your collection will go on the block at some point or another. You might as well get as much money for them as you can and practicing detachment will help you make that leap.

2. Decide what to sell:
If your collection is anything like mine there are probably some dolls that don't get looked at, let alone played with. This is the easiest place to start: pull out the dolls and clothing that you haven't seen in quite some time and decide whether or not they have a place in your collection. If they are stored because they have sentimental value to you, evaluate the level of value and decide from there. Great grandma's porcelain dolls might stay whereas last year's Toy Story Barbie given to you by a co-worker is a goner. 

Where it gets trickier is after the first or second sweep when you get down to the dolls and clothes you really have feelings for. If you haven't been practicing your detachment, make a list of dolls you would grab in a fire. Everything else gets put on a "Maybe" list. You don't have to sell these dolls. You can let them sit on the "Maybe" list for as long as it takes for you to get comfortable with the idea of selling them or even move them to the "Fire" list. Keep in mind, you can always buy back a factory doll. If you are thinking about selling an OOAK but don't have to, I suggest giving it a little time to make sure you won't have serious sellers remorse afterwards. 

3. Evaluate the condition of your items and research the market:
Now you have a list of items you want to sell. You need to evaluate the condition of your dolls and see what the going rate is. Take some time to really investigate the doll's condition. If she is NRFB you are not expected to remove her to do so but do what you can. The last thing you want is to go to ship her only to find a flaw that will undo your sale. Make note of what the doll comes with and whether it's all accounted for. I don't need to tell you but cigarette smell is a big deal breaker for many. If there is smoking allowed in the house then chances are your dolls will be affected. It isn't a crime but it is expected that you disclose it. With all of your information in hand, do a search of completed items on eBay or the boards to see what price you should be expecting. 

If the sale dolls are repaints then there are a few things to consider: the quality of the repaint, the artist, the type of body, any wear and tear. All of these factors go into figuring out how much to ask. If the repaint is a new acquisition you can sometimes get close to if not the same price you paid. If the repaint is older and in bad shape then you might get 1/3 to 1/2 of the value. If the repaint is older work but from someone who no longer repaints and has a great secondary market value, you might be in luck and even make some money. Again, research is necessary. If the doll doesn't have a COA then write the artist to ask if one was issued. (I might have issued 5 in the beginning but not since 2000 (I know, slacker)). Once the doll is sold, suggest the buyer write the artist for a replacement COA if necessary or to see if they can freshen up any problems or do a body switch for them (ask if there is an additional fee for these services).

4. Organizing a sale:
There are a few different options with sales venues. In any case you'll need clear good pictures of the doll including a close up of the face, a full shot and separate shots of any accessories and condition issues like cracked knees or stains. Depending on the venue you might also need a full write up on which year the doll was issued, by whom, what the sale includes, etc.

Selling on the boards is useful if you need money quickly and don't want to deal with conventional fees. Generally people are looking for steals and deals so you might take a hit on the price you wanted but you won't have to wait for an auction to run its course either. Before any cash changes hands, ask for references to make sure the person you are dealing with is trustworthy. Check the feedback boards as well to see if there have been any prior issues. Chances are the person is safe but you wouldn't believe how many people still don't ask for references and are surprised when they get taken for a doll.

Selling on eBay has its pros and cons: You will get a very large pool of buyers who have easily identifiable feedback and possibly more money for your item than you had thought. You will also have to pay some hefty fees on the final sale prices. If you are going to go this route, educate yourself on exactly how much you are paying for this sale (remember to include money fees) to judge whether it's worth it.

If you have enough items think about making a web sales page with a First to Know List of interested buyers. This allows you to have complete control of price and information without paying listing fees. There are no time limits and people can browse at their leisure. If you not depending on a quick sale then this is probably the choice for you.

Whatever you sell and however you sell it, keep excellent records. You'll need these in case something goes missing or for tax purposes.

You might not feel great about selling your items off initially but the joy of having money in your account again will make it all better. Now that you have cash again, the itch to buy will start up. Next week we will go over the our new rules of smart purchasing.


Halloween Designer Spotlight: Dalila Dolls

This week's designer spotlight is on the uber talented Dalila! I have been a fan of Dalila's for many years now, so much so that her name is the first that comes to mind when considering a character with any kind of specialty costume. Her work with leather is legendary; her shoes coveted; and her repaints of men, women and vampires drooled over. She also had the courage to specialize and thrive in not one but two niche roles in this already small world of doll customizing: leather work and male dolls. I had to ask this multi-hyphenate about her passions. 

S: How did you discover fashion dolls? 
D: My interest in fashion dolls started with my husband's aunt who had a small collection. When we would go to visit I started to look through her Haute Doll magazines and the dolls and fashions really grabbed my attention. I started to play with ideas and dabbled in it as more of a hobby, which quickly became more of a small business, thanks to my husband's needling me and now we run it together, even though he is a master procrastinator :) ( been waiting quite a while for my website to update).  

S: Do you have a background in art or was this a new venture for you?
D: I have always been artistic. My father was a very good artist and my mother would take me to different arts and crafts classes. In my childhood, I took painting and sculpting classes and learned how to make things out of some unusual items such as bark, straw and moss to name just a few. Also I took some sewing classes where I learned to build patterns and other basics. All of this, plus other things I had learned, play a part in what I try to do with each creation I make. When I did my first complete repaint and outfit (Arwen) I learned a great deal of what to do and what not to do for my next project. I found that I truly love doing this kind of artistic work and find that it is fun.   

S: How did you decide on your specialty?
D: Making something OOAK gives me a special feeling of accomplishment when I hear back from those that now have it and love it. This feeling drove me to start creating leather work. I have found a true niche in what I do since not many do it.  As you can see most of my leather work is armor, more fantasy or medieval styles, which both come to me naturally since I like reading about both. had taken some woodburning courses as a child and used those techniques before I taught myself how to tool the leather, which I now use in all my armor.

S: How long does the leather work take you?
D: The leather work is very time consuming because I want perfection and as much detail as I can get into it. Some leather work does not take much time, like a bustier which may take a couple of days, while others can take weeks to do depending if I need to make forms or special patterns. 

S: What do you find most fulfilling about your work?
D: What I find most fullfilling about what I do with a creation is, as long as I know that I put everything into it, I am happy with it. Sometimes after a completion I feel so drained from all the work and want nothing more than to sit and read. Which normally gets me thinking of the next one.

S: Finally, the question of the month: What inspires you most about Halloween?
D: This time of year I love making my vampires for halloween. As a fantasy creature, the raw beauty of a vampire is something I try to bring out in each one; not to make them scary, but to make them eternal.

Thank you so much, Dalila, for sharing your work with us! 

Now some words about Dalila's work from Sam, the collector. Dalila's shoes are incredible! Her choice of leather is important here as the weight needs to be to scale for the dolls. Her original base molds were designed to get the perfect killer heel and her brilliant addition of the pin in the heel takes away your worries of breakage. A minor investment for such high quality.

Although I had the opportunity to view Dalila's work up close when she collaborated with me on Xena and Gabrielle, I haven't had the chance to own my own leather armor pieces. Most are snatched up immediately with good reason: they are mini pieces of art! The work and skill that go into just a bustier is amazing, not to mention what a whole suit entails. The attention to detail, beautiful colors and textures and intricate patterns make you want to just sit there and stare. It's that gorgeous.

Sometimes specialty pieces like Dalila's armor are viewed as just that: armor and nothing more. I wanted to show the versatility and fashionable side of her work. For this shoot I borrowed some pieces from my bestie, Jan, who is lucky enough to own some Dalila work. Thank you, Hunny :)

By adding a "plain" black bustier to Tonner's Death by Fashion, the doll's figure is immediately enhanced and defined and the overall look is a little more edgy. Next, a more elaborate bustier is used with Fayrie Wear for an edgy, more warrior feel. Finally, I added a simple matching tulle skirt to the warrior armor dress shown and came up with a sweet almost cosplay look. If only I had a great staff and headpiece to match!

Antoinette by Yu
Halo Cristina

Dae Jang Geum by Jigamaree

If you have pieces by Dalila, I encourage you to play with them. They're more versatile than you might think. If you don't have any, I encourage you to get some as I'll be doing the same.


Trend Feature: Fayrie Wear

This week's theme is Fayrie Wear. From how to mix and match to DIY projects, I'll teach you how to "fairy up" your girls for the holiday. Today I'm showing you how to mix Fayrie Wear with Tonner factory items you might already have.

One of the best things about Fayrie Wear is that you can tailor it to your taste. Your Fayrie can dress classically with matching colors and an overall pretty feel. Some of the older Tonner pieces work really well for this. Try a Fayrie Wear top or corset with the Tonner Flock Together feather skirt or the Date Night skirt from the Bewitched series. Cinderella's original outfit pulls double duty: The top is great for a renaissance feel when paired with the Fayrie skirts, while the skirt is cute with Fayrie tops.

Antoinette by Yu

I like my Fayries a little more eclectic. In my world they have a different aesthetic than us as they like to show off a lot of their found treasures at once. There may be colors that match but then the patterns won't. Bits of brocade, swatches of chiffon, fluffy poufy whimsy with a little ragged around the edges because they wear their dresses like jeans. The perfect outfit for this look is from Sinister Circus' Lucine. 

Halo Cristina
Here I have paired the top with the Purple Overskirt and Purple Tulle Skirt (necklace by IT). I like that the top picks up the colors in the batik but is it's own piece, it doesn't fade into the background or draw too much attention. 
Sydney by Laurie Leigh

Likewise, I have paired the skirt and leggings with the Black Brocade Top. There's a nice harmony of colors without it being too matchy matchy. 

If you like your Fayrie a little more modern, try mixing in some stripes or cut off shirts. The striped tights from The Gift Analisse are one of my favorite go to pieces. Use them with the Animal Print Overskirt or with the Black or White Peasant Shirts and a corset. Here I mixed previous Empire looks together for a relaxed and trendy feel. Top and leggings from Spring '07, leggings from Summer '07, belt from Fall '06, skirt and hat from Fayrie Wear '08, boots from '09

Antoinette by Yu

Finally, if Fayries aren't your thing, you can still incorporate the pieces for cool looks. Use the tulle skirts to create a ballerina. Pair the peasant tops with jeans. One of my favorite pieces is the Vest Corset. You can pair it with Fayrie Wear, jeans, gowns or a suit and it still looks like it belongs. Here I have paired it with Ghost of Christmas Past's dress, a Fayrie choker, a cool hat from Superfrock, boots from Tonner's Lady G and the goggles from Dollcis for a Steampunk look.

Dae Jang Geum by Jigamaree

I hope you take this week to discover the joys of making your own fairy. They're fun but also say a lot about you.