Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The other side of the discount: When push comes to sell

Many vintage camera web sites and blogs (including this one) love to trumpet how they acquired some beloved piece of photo technology at an amazingly low price. "I got this OM-2 for $30!"  Stuff like that. I've even got an article about getting my Contax for less then $13. For many of us thrift store scroungers, it's the thrill of this low-buck kill that keeps us looking behind dusty shelves and going to yet another garage sale on Friday night.

There is a downside to all of this discount buying. What happens when you're the seller?

I'm finding out the hard way. With over 150 cameras in my collection, there comes a point where you exceed the amount of shelving and curio cabinet space your spouse will allow you to maintain in order to slake your collecting "habit". So, I've begun to cull the herd. Actually, that's been quite a good experience.

I've come to terms that I simply can't own it all. I've determined which items I absolutely can't part with and have begun to earnestly offer the rest for sale. It's all got to fit into my new camera collecting focus (pun intended). And, er, the profits will go to buying yet more camera stuff. Of course.

The problem is, no one wants my old equipment. Not anybody, not at any price. I've tried for six months. Maybe it's the economy, but mostly, I think it's the technology. Digital reigns, film is dead. I get it.

Even when offered as deals approaching a sawbuck - including shipping - no one bites on classic old film cameras.  The few inquiries I do get always seem to fall into the "so, like, what mega-pixel is it?", or "will that Soligor lens from 1974 fit my new Samsung D-SLR I just got at the Wal-Mart Superstore?" After replying "neither, dudes, it's film camera stuff" the emails quickly go silent.

Selling online works, but is spotty, inconvenient and cumbersome. And sometimes it just plain old sucks to do. If you try something like Craig's List, suspicion runs high that you're fencing stolen goods or are luring them into some deadly situation where they get robbed trying to buy from you. Hey, it's only an old Petriflex, folks, not drugs, relax.

I have met some very, very nice local folks online who have purchased some cameras from me. There are a scant few who still admire photo equipment. I've had some very pleasurable transactions mixed with interesting conversation and insight. These people are the ones that keep me going. But, alas, they are the (welcome) exceptions.

I'm left with finding the dwindling number of collectors like me who still value the vintage stuff. But again, like me, they're usually most interested in getting a great old camera for a steal to tell a story.

I now see the folly of my self-destructive ways. Instead of collecting a few very good pieces at rational prices from discerning collectors, I ran around digging in moldy cardboard boxes at the local Goodwill, hoping to score the wheat of a Kodak Medallist II from all the chaff of the plastic Time Magazine subscription bonus cameras. So far, I've eluded the high of getting a Leica for $10 doing this. Ya think?

So now I'm the garage sale guy putting all the good stuff out that's going for pennies on the dollar. Follow on to the next photo blog over, I'll bet there's a great-looking, recently acquired Nikon featured in it that came off my shelf right over there.

1 comment:

  1. :-) I feel your pain - happened to me in the early 2000's when I decided I really didn't need 30 Soviet rangefinders and 9 Prakticas.

    But keep me in mind when you've got a camera to sell for a sawbuck or two.

    Best regards,
    SteveR

    ReplyDelete