I have three short stories to share with you.
First story. I received a letter from someone asking for a copy of my pricelist. The note said, “Want your list of US mint stamps and plate blocks. Prices should be no more than 5 cents above face.”
There is an old saying about people like this. “Some people know the value of everything and the price of nothing.”
Would you like to buy a mint plate block of Scott #1053, the $5 Hamilton from the Liberty series, for just 5˘ above face? I would!
Think about this situation for a minute. Suppose this gentleman orders a bunch of mint stamps. I could pull out and invoice about 100 stamps per hour. For most mint stamps, my profit would be 10˘ or less per stamp if I sold them at the price he demands. At 100 stamps per hour, I would make about $10 profit per hour. Minimum wage is just over $7 per hour. Subtract off the cost of the envelope to mail the stamps to him, the stock card to hold the stamps, and so forth, I would make less than minimum wage. Financially, I would be further ahead to take a minimum wage job. If I sold stamps at 5˘ over face value, I would be out of business in no time.
I wonder how many other dealers he has contacted with the same request. He’s probably wondering why he’s not getting any responses.
Second story. When I started in the stamp business, someone from a local stamp show contacted me and asked me to take a table at their next show. The show was in two months and my stock wasn’t fully organized yet. I described my situation and respectfully declined the offer. I went to the show anyway because I patronized that show for years as a collector.
While I was at the show, I met the gentleman who contacted me. We chatted a few minutes and then he said, “Don’t you think your prices are a little high?” My pricelist was on my website and he must have read it. I was stunned and asked what he meant. He said, “Stamps on the Internet sell for 10% of catalog value.”
That statement is absolutely false. Yes, I’ve seen stamps on various Internet sites sell for very cheap prices. I should have asked him if he would like to sell his collection at 1% of catalog value. If I can only sell it for 10% of catalog, I have to make a profit somewhere. This was another person who knows the value of everything and the price of nothing.
Third story. A customer contacted me seeking a space filler copy of Scott #122 in mint condition. Unless the stamp is in tiny pieces (which I’ve never seen), a space filler is going to cost around $1000, give or take a little. He wanted to use my lay away plan, but he wanted to take 12 months to pay for it.
No thank you. I have a lay away plan that is 3 months long. However, 12 months is too long.
A mint #122 will cost me $600 or more. If this guy takes a year to pay for it, my money is tied up for at least 6 months before I even begin to see a profit. Because my money is tied up on that stamp, I don’t have money to buy other stamps or pay my bills.
I don’t know of any dealer who has terms allowing someone to take a year to pay for something. I doubt he will ever obtain that mint #122 unless he changes his expectations of a payment plan. Otherwise, he should save his money for a year and then seek to buy the stamp he wants.
My cost of doing business with this customer is too high. Dealers depend on turning over inventory quickly. I buy a stamp, sell it, and move on to buy more stamps. Dealers cannot wait long periods of time for payments to be made. If I waited 12 months for payments to come in from all of my customers, I would be out of business very quickly.