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eBay for Collectors: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Updated: Aug 17

You just read the title, so let's get to it.

The Good... eBay is a great resource to find and buy rare or hard-to-find collectibles. If you are hunting for a 2010 Vintage Collection Foil Stamped Boba Fett VC09 in mint condition, you are going to find it on eBay, and maybe only a few other places.

Even better, you will probably find a few of them for sale in differing conditions and price points. This provides you, the collector, with a lot of information to make an informed decision. Using this example of VC09 Foil Stamped Boba Fett, I just found 12 of these for sale on eBay, ranging in price from $160 to $360 ungraded, with one at $550 for an AFA 8.5 Graded and encapsulated one. First, 12 sellers are now keeping each other honest in terms of pricing. A competitive marketplace is a very good thing for the buyer. 12 listings also give me a lot of options to choose from, and I can eliminate any sellers that don't pass the smell test (If the pictures are no good, the seller has less than 500 feedback, and more than 1 negative feedback in the last 12 months). Then I see who's left to find something that works for me and my budget.

So for collectors of almost anything, that's where the "Good" begins and ends. Hard-to-find collectibles make eBay a great place to shop, or at least get started.

The Bad... For fairly to readily available collectibles out there or figures that have sold out at the big box stores, eBay is just a bad choice when it comes to price and quality.

Fact; eBay charges all sellers a Final Value fee of 12.9% plus 30 cents on every item they sell. That's not just on the price of the item, that fee applies to everything, including tax and shipping. So if an item is selling for $25, tax is $2.16 and shipping is $5, then the seller has to account for $4.15 in eBay FV Fees. That means that the buyer is paying for the seller's cost of the item, the cost of their eBay fees, and whatever profit the seller is putting on top.

Then there is shipping. Please remember this because this is important... Free shipping on eBay is not the same as free shipping on Amazon. Big box retail shops like Amazon don't account for shipping costs in their retail line. They make up for their shipping losses in other aspects of their business, after all, they are the largest company in the world. So why does this matter when it comes to eBay? Very simple, the average Joe or small business, ie; EVERYONE SELLING ON EBAY, cannot afford to provide free shipping. So how come so many eBay sellers have free shipping? Well, because you the buyer are paying for it. It's all built into the price of each item. So that $25 item has shipping costs built into it, and if you buy 5 items with free shipping, you're paying for shipping x 5. Oh, and it's going to be the cheapest shipping method possible. If an eBay seller could strap your item to a turtle with a decent GPS for free, guess what? Yep, turtle power!

Quality. Every purchase on eBay is a gamble when it comes to quality. You have to do extensive due diligence on every seller, come up with requirements and stick to it, or just gamble because there's no better option. Most eBay sellers don't have an extensive inventory, so you're going to get the quality that their limited supply has to offer. That's how I set myself apart on eBay by Guaranteeing Mint, and that's how I've built a pretty nice customer base that keeps coming back and is now joining me here. But I still get buyers that are surprised that they got what was advertised because they've been burned so many times before. I'm sure some if not all of you can relate in some way.

So what choices are left for us to fill gaps in our collection or get the newest in our favorite line? Well, I don't want to point the finger at our url, that would just be yucky. So I'll point both of my fingers at all the storefronts and websites out there that specialize in selling toys and collectibles, that I happen to be a part of. In fact, I'm the newest show in town. Don't get me wrong, I've been in this business for years taking my licks on eBay and Etsy. It's important for me to highlight that it was this exact "Bad" about eBay that foced my hand to get out and start I did the math and figured out that by building my own website and direct line of business with my customers, I could sell the same great stuff, all still Guaranteed Mint, at LOWER prices, and actually make MORE profit. No brainer, so here I am. I'm still on eBay and Etsy, it's, unfortunately, a necessary evil for now until RAWSTARWARS really takes off. I will get there soon enough with your support, and my edge of Guaranteed Mint collectibles at no additional fee. That, along with my very direct and helpful nature is what I hope will set us apart from the other great shops out there on the web. By the way, we are all customers of each other. I've bought from them and they've bought from me. That tells you that we are all collectors in this business, which speaks volumes all by itself, and you can't say the same for every Tom, Dick, and Harry on eBay.

The Ugly... What could be worse? Well, it's progressively gotten worse at eBay over the years, and is only going to get more worser (yes, that's a word, look it up. No don't, I lied). eBay and other online marketplaces like it have a monopoly on the little guy trying to run a small business or supplement their income. Once upon a time, eBay charged nominal fees to provide a great new online service and turn a profit. Now eBay charges extortionary rates and often times is making significantly more money on a transaction than the actual seller. YES, this is a fact! I know, I am one of the sellers that eBay out profits. I know, it sucks, it's appalling, and there's nothing eBay sellers can do about it. That is unless they open their own shop and face the challenges of Google SEO analytics to bring traffic and new customers to your brand-new website. That's where I am now, and that's where I end this lengthy, but hopefully informative post.

Let me know what you think of this post. Tell me what I'm doing right and more importantly, what I'm doing wrong. I'm new at this, so your feedback won't hurt, it only makes me better.

I have spoken...

Richard A. Williams - The "RAW" in RAWSTARWARS

What is your experience on eBay and what is your go-to source for mint collectibles?

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