Have you ever had the collecting blues? I’m not sure if it’s going around, but I know some other people who have had it, so keep an eye out for it.
Lately, I’ve just been really down in regards to the collecting community, and I’m going to blame the biggest, easiest target: social media. I’ve been participating in a lot of Facebook groups for collectors and they have really bummed me out. I’ve always thought that the collectors I have met were pretty good people, and not among the great unwashed that many might think we are. I’ve always enjoyed trading with others with the idea that both parties get something fun to add to their own collection. But man, it seems like no one is in it for the collecting anymore, and everyone is just interested in making a profit.
I know this isn’t the reality, but in the places I’ve been hanging out online, it certainly seems to be the case. If you’re not familiar with the Facebook collecting communities, they are basically groups of people interested in a broad or specific topic (e.g. Vintage Wrestling Action Figures), where people can post photos or questions about items that fall under that particular topic. Most of these groups are filled with posts of people wanting to sell their items. I have absolutely no problem with this, and in fact, have sold a few items in this manner. There are some big advantages to this — it’s fast, easy, and saves you from paying eBay fees. At least that’s how it is when everything goes smoothly, but God forbid, your package gets delayed at the post office or in customs — if this happens to you, expect to have your name, address, phone number, and personal photos blasted across the group along with any number of colorful descriptive words about your mother. And when the package eventually does arrive, it probably won’t even be acknowledged.
There are some real ugly people in these groups, and I’m not talking about their profile pictures. If someone innocently asks a “stupid” question, the responses are jaw dropping. I don’t want to know these people virtually or in real life. Honestly, I’m not even comfortable being associated with them by being part of the same group. Oh, and if you’re an attractive female posting in these groups, I’m sorry.
These Facebook groups seem to be populated with scammers, hoping to take your money and run. There is no protection here, like what you would get with an eBay transaction. You are sending money to a complete stranger and hoping for the best. Risky business indeed. If someone could develop an escrow service or something to take away the risk, he would make millions — or lose it all to the scammers.
My other big problem with these Facebook groups is that the biggest players in the groups are typically sellers who have physical storefronts or booths at toy shows. These guys constantly troll the groups and buy up any reasonably-priced item. Guess what happens to those items? They are sold to all of us collectors at a higher price at their next toy show. As collectors, we are doing a disservice to ourselves by selling to these guys, but the promise of a quick buck is impossible to resist. Many of these dealers even have the audacity to buy an item in a FB group and then offer it for sale a few weeks later in the same group at an inflated cost.
I understand that if someone wants to sell an item at a certain price, dealers have every right to buy the item, but you HAVE to know that the dealer is going to sell the item for more than you’re asking. These dealers are running a business and have working capital to put towards their stock, which is just business. They have no problem dropping hundreds of dollars a day, buying up any high-value toy regardless of what it is. While the collector will focus on a single product or line, the resellers will buy it all, jack up the price, and then offer it at a higher price. It’s just frustrating. (Insert whiny baby sound effect here.)
I know that scalpers aren’t new, but it’s really been dragging on me lately. Yes, I could just quit the groups, but the reality is that I have learned a lot by being part of them, and every so often, there is a good deal to be made. It’s all just depressing and sucking a large portion of the fun out of collecting for me. I want to interact with fellow collectors who are passionate and excited as I am about the items we bring into our homes. Oh well, I know I’m not going to change the world with a rambling rant, but maybe someone else out there feels the same way.
Have you ever questioned the company you keep? yuck. Oh, and if you choose to leave a foul-mouthed scathing comment about how I should take my thumb sucking self elsewhere, I’ll be happy to delete it… because I can.