Pricing vintage for resale is a little different from the other pricing models you’ll find that have a nifty little calculator that plug in hours, costs and bingo-bango you have a magic price! It’s a little more complicated than that.
I know, I looked everywhere for a way to figure out what I should charge for my vintage items. The truth is a standard pricing model doesn’t exist. We are in a very unique business. Our business depends HEAVILY on what the market says is popular. 10 years ago you could pick up ironstone for pennies because no one was really looking for it. Now ironstone is at a premium because everyone wants it.
Pricing vintage for resale is an ever moving target. So let’s talk about how hit the bullseye!
Research is Key
Don’t groan at me. This is the job and there are no short cuts.
You have to know what’s selling now. If you’ve been in the game awhile; you can already see trends. You saw the shift to MCM at the same time I did and you saw the new interest in the 70’s & 80’s.
If you’re new to the game then you have to start watching trends. Etsy puts out a trend page every year letting sellers know which trends are on the up swing. You don’t have to sell vintage on Etsy to get this information though. Just do a quick search for Etsy Vintage Trends and you’ll find it.
Whatever your vintage niche is it’s a good idea to do a search for current trends.
Obviously, items that are trending command a higher price than items that are not trending.
Why the Pricing Calculator Doesn’t Work
Most standard pricing calculators will tell you that you need to take the cost you paid for a product, then add what you want your gross margin to be. So let’s do an example of one of the pieces I picked up.
This is an 1949 iridescent child’s bowl with Dopey on it. So this falls into several vintage categories (as you can see by my listing details). Children’s china. Collectible Disneyana. Iridescent china. All very desirable.
I bought this on the last day of an estate sale for I believe 60% off the estate listing price. The discount doesn’t matter. What matters is I paid $1.00 for this bowl. So if we take the standard pricing model you find online it looks like this:
$1.00 at a 75% mark up = $4.00 for a profit of $3.00
That’s not going to work. Not for something this rare.
Let’s look at a model that some vintage sellers think will get them closer to an accurate price.
The Hand Made Model
Some vintage sellers decide on what their hourly rate should be for locating vintage items, and then factor in their “supply” costs or what it cost them to purchase the items and the cost of listing the items and the cost of shipping (if they’re planning to offer free shipping). Let’s say I want to pay myself $50 per hour. So for the bowl above it would look like this:
$1 + $50 + .20 Listing fee + $10 (shipping) = $61.20
This is good right? It sure looks better.
Here’s my problem with this model. That bowl is extremely rare. Do an image search for it and see how many you find. At the time of writing this there’s one. Mine.
So extremely rare and very collectible. There should be more than a $50 profit on this piece.
So How Do You Price Vintage for Resale?
You can always check for comparable items. If you know the manufacturer you can usually do a search to find other pieces listed for sale. There will usually be a large range of prices if the item is fairly common. You want to be sure the price you’re listing is right because some of those prices will be way too high and others will be way too low. Here are two resources to help you know if your price is in the Goldilocks zone.
- Replacements Ltd – If you’re look to find the value of a piece of china this is n excellent resource. They are a etailer that specializes in in replacement pieces of china, flatware, and crystal. They even buy patterns if you want to sell to them. You can get a good idea of what a piece is worth if they have item in stock. They even have a pattern identification program that can help you learn what you have.
- WorthPoint – This is an unbeatable resource! They can show you the price of recently sold items from jewelry to furniture and everything in between. This is a paid service ($199.99 annually) but there is a free 7-Day trial so you can see if you like it. What I like about it is it will show you the actual price the market will pay.
Decide The Value
The last resource is your own brain. For items like the one I listed above, there is no resource that I could find for this bowl. When you find something that is so unique that you can find a comparable item you have to use your best, educated guess.
That’s what sellers do and sometimes you might have to wrestle with the part of your brain that says, “but you only paid $1 for that”. That part of your brain that tries to make you feel guilty and wants you to put a lower price on the item. If you’re using your educated information to decide the price then you have nothing to feel guilty about. You are entitled to make a living.
Don’t undervalue what you do. There are plenty of people who are looking for what you have who don’t want to put in the time or effort to go hunt for those items themselves. They want the convenience of being able to find a treasure and click “Buy Now”.
They are paying you for that convenience.
If you are getting serious about selling vintage items and if you’ve made it this far then I know you are, read my other posts on Etsy selling.
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