Over the years, Iíve come to better understand the market and my customers too. Here is my informal analysis.
Common stamps donít sell well as singles, especially used issues. Collectors like to save money by buying these issues in bulk. They buy them by the packets of a few hundred stamps at a time. Or theyíll buy a leftover collection. They work to move those stamps into their collections. Itís cheaper that way. Then they buy individual stamps to fill the holes left in their collection. I offer common stamps as singles because itís easy to do. I can buy mint or used common stamps pretty cheap and make a few dollars on them.
Moderately priced stamps are what most collectors need. These are stamps in the $5-$50 range. Yes, $50 is a lot of money for a stamp for some people. But thatís the range that sells best for me. These are stamps you donít find in packets. Collectors slowly and patiently add these stamps to their collections.Ninety percent of my customers fall in this range.
A few collectors have deep pockets and can afford the $100 and up stamps. I have a few customers who like material in the $100 to $500 range. Above $500, the number of collectors drops really fast. Many people either canít afford those kinds of stamps or they canít justify spending that much money on a hobby.
Damaged copies of inexpensive stamps donít sell very well. I have a few customers who look to fill a Scott number in their album. The cheaper the better. This is an area Iím trying to get out of. Unfortunately, I may lose a few customers in doing this. Itís purely a business decision. Itís low demand and there isnít much profit when you think of the labor needed to put this item into my stock.
When dealing in damaged stamps, I find that most collectors prefer stamps that are visually appealing. Let me explain.
Thins or light creases will reduce the value of a stamp by 25-90% depending on the extent of damage. As some customers have noted, ďI donít care about the back of the stamp when itís in my album.Ē That sound copy of a $500 stamp is out of their price range. A copy with a light cancel but a huge thin is in their $50 budget.
Unless the stamp is super expensive, customers donít like really heavy cancels, or other major damage that negatively affects the appearance of the stamp. A sound, well centered used copy of Scott #122 is over $2000. Itís out of the range of most collectors. Unless the thin is really bad, a copy with small faults or off center is still in the $500 - $1500 range. Thatís still out of the range of many collectors. A copy that has been repaired to cover up some damage is now maybe in the $200 - $400 range. Yeah, itís an ugly duckling. It is a way to fill a hole in a collection. At this range, there are some collectors who can afford that stamp.
Thatís where I see the hobby at.