New eBay alternative: Talk & Trade Live combining the best of the web for online antiques shopping

Imagine waking up and before heading out to a yard sale or auction, your computer links you by video to a few dozen dealers, allowing you to make offers, haggle and close deals before the coffee is done.

At Talk & Trade Live buyers and sellers are doing just that for items ranging in price from $8.99 to thousands. For a flat monthly fee sellers use an Internet video chat system and a feedback system to sell items to buyers from their “booths,” like those offered at antiques shows and flea markets. Talk & Trade Live!

The site is run by Allan Coyle, an antiques dealer, and Ryan Griggs, an Internet commerce specialist with experience selling online. “We’ve been working on this for two years,” said Griggs. “One of our big goals is freedom here, not the big brother atmosphere of eBay. We want to focus on freedom and allow people to talk and trade at a place where they make the rules. We basically want to leave them alone to make their own deals.”

Coyle first came up with the idea. He visualized a site on which buyers can use video chat to discuss antiques and collectibles with sellers after seeing a young family member use an X-box video game system to talk live with other players around the world. He figured, if children can do that why couldn’t we create a similar set up for antiques collectors, Griggs said.

“So I started developing and testing trial features,” he said. “The video function is free. Instead of using voice audio you can use video.”

Once logged on, buyers can step into a seller’s virtual booth. “We call them booths because it has a stronger connection to traditional antiques shows and outside fairs,” Griggs explains. Once a buyer shows up the seller is alerted someone is in his or her booth and a dialog can take place. Both buyer and seller can control what method they use to communicate – or even if they want to communicate at all. Sellers don’t have to sit in front of a computer all day waiting for a sale. The site has a tool that can send a text notice to a seller’s smart phone that a buyer is interested in an item.

Buyers can set their own price or sell the item via an auction-style listing. Talk and Trade Live doesn’t interfere with the transaction, Griggs said, and sellers don’t owe the site a cut of the sales price. The services costs a flat $19.95 per month no matter how much inventory is sold.

The service is available as an addition to existing websites as well as virtual online malls or shopping sites.
“We see this as a cross between eBay, craigslist and Skype,” Griggs said. “The biggest difference is that we offer the service. You can use our invoicing system if you want or you can use your own.”

Talk & Trade Live does have a feedback system, which offers buyers a level of protection. The system allows both buyers and sellers to rate one another and leave comments. It also features a mannerism score: a buyer is allowed to rate sellers based on how they were treated, if the seller was polite and responsive to requests. Likewise, sellers are able to refuse service and can even ban certain buyers from shopping at their booth completely.

“It seems like the time is right,” Griggs said. “We’re seeing so many complaints about unfairness and things sellers and buyers don’t like at other auction sites. They feel like they don’t have a voice … but this is for everyone.”

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