Page 38

I N T H E T RENCHE S

By Allen McBroom

38

As a big fan of old movies, especially sci-fi and horror films from the 1930s-1950s (think Karloff as “The Monster” and Lugosi as “Dracula”), I probably spend too much time in front of the TV. I watch ver y little current-era TV, except for two programs on The Histor y Channel: “American Pickers” and “Pawn Stars.” Despite some of the contrived scenarios in those shows, I enjoy the back-and-forth banter between the buyers and sellers. If you’ve ever watched “Pawn Stars,” you’ve probably nodded your head, perhaps vigorously, as Rick tried to explain to a hopeful seller that, if an item’s value is $3,000, he can’t pay $7,000 for it. He also can’t pay $5,000, or $3,200, etc. As music store owners, we’ve all had that same experience. As a matter of fact, I went through it today. A lady came in with a used Squier Affinity Strat and wanted to sell it. Me: How much are you expecting to get for it? Her: Three or four. Me: Three or four what? Her: Hundred. I finally bought it for less than $50. Had I charged for the time I spent explaining why it was only worth X dollars instead of $300-$400, she would have owed me instead of me owing her. This got me to thinking about all the different approaches we encounter from prospective sellers, and I made a short list of the types we run into. It’s certainly not all-inclusive, but I expect you’ll recognize some of these sellers from the transactions you’ve had in your store. So, here’s the short list of used gear seller definitions. The Internet Expert. These sellers usually come in with some piece of gear they know little to nothing about, and when I ask them how much they expect to get out of it, they start off with “Well, I looked it up on the internet, and…”. Further enlightenment for this seller is doubtful but not impossible. Let’s say they have a used Mexican Strat, and they found new USA Strats online for $1,399, so all Strats are worth $1,399. Usually, some discussion will cast doubt on the infallibility of the internet, but you have a less-than-50-percent chance of buying the Mexican Strat at a price where money can be made. The Detached Seller. This seller is rather nonchalant about selling, never has a price in mind and frequently gets around to making this statement: “Really, I just want to get rid of it.” We all know that’s not what they want, and we also know they have a price in mind. If they just wanted to get rid of it, they could have donated it to the church mission auction, but that option never seems to dawn on them. Instead, they go to a business looking to sell it. When they also say they don’t care how much they get for it (usually a number defined as “just whatever”), you can usually get them to own up to having a number in

mind by offering them $20. “Just whatever” quickly becomes “My uncle told me not to take less than $500 for this because ...” This is another buyer who eschews enlightenment, and the chance of buying the gear at a favorable price is low. The “You Tell Me” Seller. These are the sellers who insist that I tell them what I’ll pay for whatever they’ve dragged in, and I pretty much never name the first number. They always claim to

A GUIDE TO USED GEAR SELLERS have no idea what it’s worth, so, “you tell me what it’s worth.” These are easy to deal with. I usually just tell them to do some research, and when they know how much they want for it, come back to see me and we can discuss it. Speaking of research … The Researcher. This seller comes in with a load of questions. “What’s it worth?” “What will you pay for it?” “A guy offered me $300, is that a good price?” “The pawn shop offered me $400, but I don’t trust them, what will you pay?” This guy is, almost without exception, a waste of time. He wants me to put a value on his stuff because I’m the expert, and then he’ll make sure not to take one penny less than whatever I say, but there’s no way he’ll sell it to me, because “You just told me it’s worth more than that.” Unless you’re having an ultra-slow day, make the conversation with this guy short. The Overly Agreeable Seller. This is the seller who comes in and tells you right off the NOVEMBER 2019

Profile for Music & Sound Retailer

Music & Sound Retailer November 2019, Vol 36 No 11  

In the November issue of the Music & Sound Retailer, learn the state of the accessories and bags and cases market, check out our salute to l...

Music & Sound Retailer November 2019, Vol 36 No 11  

In the November issue of the Music & Sound Retailer, learn the state of the accessories and bags and cases market, check out our salute to l...