The Collector - case studies #1

On price, value, and just what is the best deal?

First, a statement of the obvious that is too often missed: Price is absolute; value is relative. Neither accurately says a lot about the character of the person selling or buying.

Late last year, during a period of unfortunate circumstances, I had to sell a very rarely available, sold out specimen from a limited edition series of 125 pieces (in that metal; 250 pieces total, all metals.)

I had two very interested parties, who wanted to buy the piece at "typical market prices," which basically was based upon "standard" discounts (25% +) and depreciation percentages (20% +) for that particular brand.

I politely turned them down, despite some very persistent and thoroughly reasoned cajoling from both of them.

Another TZ regular, who liked the watch and understands the context and motivations of the way I do things, accepted a price higher than normal percentage discounts, but lower than I paid.

(Those that know anything about my collection can easily imagine that for regularly available, non-limited edition models, I am able to get discounts as good as anyone not specifically in the industry. One thing I pride myself on, however, is never, from my mouth, offering a price "below cost," which I would be ashamed to even offer.

And on limited edition, highly sought after pieces, I try to pay a "fair market," if slightly "preferential" price based upon what someone else will likely pay within the next few days or weeks for that highly sought after piece. This assumes that by selling me that rare piece, the dealer will not readily be able to replace and offer that model to another buyer. The dealer has to pay his rent and his employees somehow. No one's needs are served if the authorized dealer cannot stay in business, and chooses not to stay in business because "it just is not worth it.")

Back to my example, I accepted a lower price than I was originally asking for, and quite a bit lower price than I purchased the watch for originally. The buyer got the watch and has enjoyed it for several months now, and still likes it as far as I know (if not, and you are reading this, let me know. I'd be interested in buying it back.)

As far as I know (as recently as a month ago) the other two potential buyers still do not have the watch, though they are still looking.

So who came out ahead?

Points to ponder:

1) ceteris paribus a lower price is better than a higher price, for the buyer. But things are almost never ceteris paribus and people all too often taint the ownership experience and enjoyment of the watch with the ugliness that all too often comes with searching out the "absolute lowest price," too often even after the fact.

It would seem to make sense to do price and value shopping, within reason, BEFORE you buy, and just enjoy the purchase AFTERWARDS.

2) Obssessing on the ABSOLUTE lowest price blinds the potential buyer to other, less obvious value-added's. Sometimes, this is known as "Price Myopia" - a blinding focus on nothing but the dollar price.

I can give several examples, including how well warranty service needs are handled; TRUE condition (has it been dropped, but without obvious cosmetic defect? has it been baking under hot display lights? has it REALLY been serviced recently?); intangibles like history, romance, "feel good" that a good, empathetic seller can provide; but I hope the reader gets the point already.

If you are an old hand at this, and disagree, no problem. I was not trying to change your mind anyway. If you are new at this, or are still open minded, I hope my comments will, in their own small way, help to increase your (future) enjoyment of this great hobby of ours.

Respectfully submitted for your consideration.

Regards,

ThomasM

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