Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Art of the Deal

Since I’ve mentioned him in the past couple of posts, I figure you’re entitled to see that Test Color Classic Black Stallion of mine:

The differences from the Regular Run Classic "Sham" are subtle, but significant: aside from being a more Golden than Red Bay, he also has gray hooves, and no heel spot. I’d put him side by side with my Regular Run one to show you, but most of my Classics are packed away, and I’m in no mood to dig.

There was no drama associated with his arrival here: I saw him on someone’s sales list, in one newsletter or another. I inquired, we briefly negotiated, I paid, and he came in the mail a few weeks later. The end.

I miss those kinds of deals. I suppose, technically, that auctioning items like him on eBay today is more fair - at least to the dealer - but I have a hard time accepting that the art of model horse trading has been reduced to a mere numbers game.

Does it always have to be about whomever has the most money at any given time? What of luck, desire and timing?

They’re still there to a degree, especially in places like MH$P, where a past working relationship can lead to some sort of alternative pay/trade/services deal, or can in turn into some other transaction for something else, and so on.

I think that’s why I enjoy going to the flea market so much, and why I like having a good bit of stuff to sell at BreyerFest. I like that delicate dance of negotiation: offers, counteroffers, the gauging of desire and motive. Sure, a few extra bucks could come in real handy, but I’d rather sell it to someone who really, really wants it, as opposed to someone whose motives are less … sentimental?

I don’t always guess right; I can remember a particularly bad deal I got myself into several years ago, regarding an unusual item I had picked up from Marney. I was in need of a little cash, and was going through one of my downsizing phases.

Someone inquired, and gave me a long, long story about how this mold was her favorite, and how having this piece would be so much to her, etc. So I let it go for a little less than I anticipated, and if it had ended there everything would have been hunky-dory. Whatever she did with it after that was her own business.

If only. A couple months later, she sent me her sales list; I can’t remember asking for it, she might have sent it to me as a favor. (We did those sorts of things back then, when we didn’t have the Internet or cheap phone rates. Sales lists were like gold.) It was no favor: that model I sold her was on it - marked up nearly 300 percent! If it had been a hardship sell, I could understand, but there was no mention of that. It was this fabulously rare item she had somehow managed to acquire, and ooh, she could swing you such a deal on it!

Going on and selling it for a profit a few months later, well, them’s the breaks - stuff like that happens all the time. I consider myself something of a "middleman" anyway, so I’m fully aware of - and accept - the fact that other people buy from me to resell. I take my cut, and my dibs, and move on.

But intentionally sending me the sales list with the item on it, a few months later - after she had professed her undying desire to have this model in her collection, forever and ever? That took some nerve.

I later learned that this person had a habit of doing that sort of thing, to other hobbyists with way more experience than me. The reality of the situation is that she probably didn’t remember that I was the one she finagled to get that little treasure.

I made a mental note not to deal with her again, and to be a little less eager to swallow what was such an obvious sob story. And it’s also probably a big part of the reason why I prefer those face-to-face kind of negotiations: it’s not as easy to lie with body language and facial expressions, as it is with words.


Little Black Car said...

I actually really like this mold. I only have the recent dappled gray/black points one, and now I'm starting to wonder why.

Alicia Vogel said...

On buying and selling: I don't purchase or sell by the dollar signs. I go for whomever can offer the smoothest transaction. This would be someone who makes a fair offer, can craft a message responsibly, and who doesn't seem like they are borrowing mommy's computer.