Monday, April 13, 2009

That Which Must Not Be Named...Yet

Man, it's been a long time since I've done a blog post. Too long, I guess. Truth be told, I have been busy, and I guess that's the point of this post- what I've been busy with. But to explain that, I have to explain the post title. "That Which Must Not Be Named.." has nothing to do with a Harry Potter adversary, nor a story by H.P. Lovecraft, but rather an online auction site which isn't online yet that I've been sworn to secrecy about. In order to explain that, I guess we have to take it back a little further.

I had been selling on eBay for about five years by 2005 when I was contacted by someone who asked me if I'd be interested in peddling some of their merchandise. To make a long story short, I agreed and over the years have sold some very interesting and lucrative stuff for them. In fact, as time went by, I was selling A LOT of their stuff, even more than my own. Things seemed to be tooling along fine, until eBay turned to shit about a year or more ago. Even the really good stuff wasn't selling like it used to. To make matters worse, eBay turned into FEEBAY, and every listing was becoming a losing proposition in some way or other. I became discouraged and disgusted listing anything with eBay. Yeah, it might sell quickly better than elsewhere but I was getting garage sale prices on things that were way beyond any garage sales.

I told the guy I was selling for that I was becoming disenchanted with eBay, and I was thinking of throwing in the towel there. (That's about the time I discovered Bonanzle.) He told me to hang on, he was working on something. Meanwhile, I opened up a Bonanzle store, and since it didn't cost me anything to list my stuff there I really had nothing to loose but the time. I decided to get back into selling merchandise I really liked (CDs & records) with the Bonanzle setup, and with a somewhat dark theme to the booth. But selling on Bonanzle is a whole different deal than eBay auctions- much easier to list but harder to sell. Even with the promotional tools they have in place, you really need to work your butt off promotion-wise to make any money there. In the beginning, I did. I really did, and some of my efforts paid off. But in the long run, it's not enough to live on, at least for me.

So let's get back to the guy I had been selling for, who I'll call "Mr. X" in the spirit of his desire for anonymity and secrecy, at least for now. Mr. X decides that he's going to build an online auction site, something that although small-scale, will be better than eBay in numerous ways. Mr. X has some GREAT collectible merchandise in the antiquarian book, vintage magazine, ephemera, photographic and art print categories. Mr. X also has good business savvy, and even though I still don't know a whole lot about him even after our nearly four year business relationship, but I don't think he'd be "sinking it all" into this auction site if he wasn't confident that it was going to make a LOT of money.

Yeah, I have to admit I was skeptical when I first heard about it. Compete with eBay? NO WAY DUDE! That's a recipe for disaster...or at least for a lot of wasted time and money. But, as Mr. X pointed out to me, the big mistake that wannabe eBay competitors make is trying to cover a lot of categories of merchandise and trying to be too big. It's the niche markets that are the key. Smaller is better. Still, with this economic downturn (who am I kidding? It's not a downturn, it;'s a mudslide) I personally don't think that it's a good time to be sinking your life savings into a new online enterprise. But hey, it ain't MY money. It IS however, my time, and that's where I get back to what I've been doing lately, and why I haven't been much with the tweeting, message- boarding, music-making, or even blog posts.

SOooooo...for lack of better option, I've decided to trust that Mr. X's auction site will become a fruitful enterprise (soon I hope) and have been doing merchandise pre-listings so that the site will have some great stuff when it opens. Just some of the things I've been working with - Mark Twain First Editions; 1853 Mississippi- Pacific Railroad Surveys; George Cruikshank 'Comic Almanacs from the mid 1800's; 1864 Travel to the Holy Land; 1829 Edgar Allen Poe Poetry & Reviews; Etchings of Rembrandt; 1798 Duties of the Female Sex; A. A. Milne (Winnie the Pooh author) First Editions; 1885 Elizabeth Custer's 'Boots & Saddles'; 'The Jazz Singer' Al Jolson Photoplay edition 1927; 'Wind In the Willows' 1st Tasha Tudor Illustrated; 1930's Havana Cuba Travel Brochures; 1969 Avant-Garde Art Magazine with Picasso Erotic Gravures; 1854 Patent Report with Smith & Wesson Volcanic Pistol and Isaac Singer's Sewing Machine in it; a Stereoview from the 1920's with 4 guys in a vintage Cadillac who would years later become top General Motors executives; a 1949 French art magazine with Victor Vasarely "OP Art" lithographs in it; signed rare David Levine caricature book; 1793 History of King Charles by Voltaire; 1916 Witchcraft in Salem Village; 1799 Settlement of Genesee Country w/ engravings; 1832 Six Months in the West Indies by Coleridge; 1836 Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper; 1810 Life & Actions of Napoleon Bonaparte, and so many, many more. Some of these are worth a LOT of money.

So here I am with all this great stuff just waiting for this auction site to open (and yeah, I can't even hint at the name of it, under pain of betrayal) , adding more all the time, yet not making any money in the meanwhile. Maybe I'm an idiot to put my hope and trust in the designs and machinations of someone I don't know all that well but have done alright by in the past. Maybe I'm just too skeptical for my own good. It's hard to have faith in a new (somewhat risky) business enterprise after all I've been through with the Wall Street debacles and the stock market casino where Goldman Sachs and J. P. Morgan, et al. fix the tables with their derivative-loaded dice, their rigged roulette wheels of rewardless risk, and credit default swap card games of wealth destruction.

Still, Mr. X assures me has a method for driving the right kind of traffic to this auction site quickly, and hasn't told me that I'll have to be doing any promotion on it. Whenever the subject is broached, the response is, "Don't worry. I've got it covered." Well, I hope so. I really do. I hope that it isn't long that I can come back here and post that the site is open for business and we're doing fabulous. In the meanwhile, all I can do is keep a positive attitude, work on doing constructive things and hope I get some good news from somewhere. Maybe when the weather gets warmer. Maybe when I finally get inspired enough to get back into my music studio again...

1 comment:

  1. Oooh, let me know when it goes live. I have a ton of flyers from the Twilight Room bar, most of the bands that ever played there. That's the sort of thing I want to sell, but not on ebay so much...