Collector or re-seller?

What you’re about to witness is a reasonably gross oversimplification for the sake of making a point. Don’t worry, I’m not the first to do it and I’m tipping I won’t be the last.  If you’re about to hand over money for an old school NES, Master System or a fistful of old Atari cartridges odds are you fit into two groups.

You’re either a collector, or a re-seller.

The collector buys for themselves, to enhance their collection or for the love of retro gaming.  The re-seller – as the name suggests – purchases with the main motivation to resell at a profit. I like to think of myself as a collector. Sure I’ve sold on things here and there, but it’s usually because it’s a double of something I already have and tends to happen when I buy large lots, such as a Super Nintendo with a stack of games. I’m not really interested in seeking out retro gear with the sole purpose of selling onto the next person while pocking the extra cash.  Now I don’t think of re-sellers as evil, but they’re certainly not my preferred species of retro gaming folk and I prefer not to deal with them where possible. My reasoning is simple. As a collector, I like to see my doubles and extras go to other collectors. If I deal directly with a collector, I can sell them something for $10, but if I sell unknowingly to a re-seller, they’ll then turn around and sell it to the collector for $20, and pocket the extra $10.  It’s not the fact that I don’t get the extra $10 that bugs me, it’s that someone else has had to pay $20 for the same item.

Then there are the more, shall we say ‘philosophical’ reasons for my dislike. A collector tends to wrap themselves in the history of a piece of retro gear. When was the game released? Did it has a US release or just Japan? Was there a sequel? What’s the main characters name? Did it come out on the PC Engine or just the SNES? I like that. I like that collectors don’t just own the object, they own a slice of the history too.

A re-seller on the other hand usually has little interest in the history of the item and will only seek to learn the details of something in so far as it will benefit their ability to sell it on at a profit. Rarity therefore, becomes the primary – often only – concern. To me that’s sad, considering the depth and richness of history that concerns the world of video games.

Anyway, I don’t know what inspired this write-up. I guess I just wanted to get it out there, and being that I don’t own any national newspapers nor do I have enough fear-mongering in the piece to make it appealing to Fox News, I’ll post it here instead.

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3 Responses to Collector or re-seller?

  1. John D says:

    Loved everything you wrote but the cheap hit on Fox news.You sound a little naive. All news is slanted Fox is slanted to the right and everything else is slanted to the left. Fox is no more biased than MSNBC, ABC,NBC,CBS,PBS,CNN etc. When you get to be older you will understand BOTH parties stink. Right now if you are in College so you are only allowed ( by peer pressure)to criticize Republicans. As your intellectual curiosity increases you will start to question BOTH parties and reject partisan constructs meant to distract you from the issues and from recognizing that there isn’t much difference between the two. And why did you feel it necessary to comment about an unrelated issue when trying to make a salient point about something entirely different?

  2. amiga4eva says:

    Thanks for reading John – no idea where the cheap hit on Fox news is, but I’m glad it evoked some response and dialogue. Also not sure what prompted a solid chunk of text on your part about partisan politics, but thanks for reading :).

  3. Sean says:

    I`m going to disagree here. The economist in me doesn`t really see a problem in the type of exchange you have described. In transaction #1, you sold an item to someone for 10$. Presumably that is what you wanted to sell it for and what the buyer wanted to pay so you have a win-win outcome. Everybody is happy. In transaction #2 the buyer sells it to a third party for 20$. Presumably the person who paid 20$ was happy to get it for that, as was the seller (who made a 10$ profit) so there again you have a win-win outcome. Again, everybody is happy. Logically everyone should be happy with that string of transactions because everyone walks away from them with exactly what they wanted, assuming of course there was no dishonesty or misrepresentations involved.

    The fact that the end buyer paid 20$ for an item you originally sold for 10$ is largely irrelevant. The re-seller invested time and effort both in locating the item you were selling and in locating the person who was willing to pay 20$ for it. They also assumed a bit of risk in the interim (that their buyer would back out, the item would get damaged, etc). They are reasonably entitled to some compensation for this. Personally I sell a lot of my doubles quite cheaply and I know that about half the people I sell them to are going to re-sell them (Famicom games sell for more in the US than they do here so it makes sense) . That doesn`t bother me at all. Those people are better positioned to locate buyers willing to pay more and they invest time and effort in doing so, which is something I don`t have the time (or, living in Japan, ability) to do. In doing so they make games available to collectors that they otherwise would not be able to buy.

    Again, all of this is premised on the assumption that there has been no fraud or gross overcharging. If the item could readily be procured on Ebay for 10$ from multiple sellers and the guy, basically manipulating the buyer`s ignorance, sold it for 20$, then that I would have a problem with. On the other hand if the fair market value was 20$ and you had basically sold it for half that, you can`t blame the person for later selling it for a profit. In the end after all the game will end up in the hands of a collector who appreciates it (the end buyer), which is what you really want, isnt it?

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