Readers’ Letters: eBay is a great way to move that dead inventory; AB 391

eBay is a great way to move that dead inventory

I read Antique Trader from cover to cover the day it arrives and love it! I would like to comment on the Behind the Gavel article on dead inventory by Wayne Jordan. He points out the problems of “dead inventory.”

I operate an online business selling vintage electronic vacuum tubes to clients who collect and restore old radios, guitar amps, jukeboxes and hi-fi units with original vintage tubes. A niche antiques business if there ever was one, but even I have some dead inventory problems. This summer I discovered a simple way to move the old stock out the door: eBay.

EBay has been bashed by dealers in past issues of the Trader, and it is true that they currently are not very seller-friendly. However, with their worldwide reach, for moving large amounts of dead inventory out, they cannot be beat. I sell most of my tubes on my own website, I have sold on-and-off at eBay over the years, but never had an organized eBay selling strategy. This summer, I started listing various tubes I have had in stock for years on eBay. To my surprise, every listing sold! While some sold at or below cost, other tubes sold for more than the average retail price. Now, on an almost daily basis, I go through my stock and single out single tubes and pairs of tubes that I have had for some time in inventory that are the types often requested, but for some reason do not sell well on the website. Low-cost tubes are listed on eBay at a 99-cent starting price; other high-priced tubes start at $9.99. The sales have been good; some trays of tubes I have had for years are nearly empty.

Stock that is over one year old has been expensed on previous years books, and any money I can get back on them is virtually “found” money. We offer our standard guarantee and one-day shipping after the sale. For the last four months, this has added nearly $1,500 per month to the bottom line that would otherwise be sitting in our stockroom! This was money literally left sitting on the table, or rather, sitting in our stockroom.

Many complaints about selling on eBay are still true, unfortunately. The two biggest problems are non-paying bidders, and dishonest bidders who make a purchase and then complain about the merchandise, demanding a “partial” refund if they keep the item, while holding the threat of negative feedback over your head. I use the eBay non-paying bidder process, and while slow, it does either prompt the bidder to pay, or at least will get your item relisted and your fees refunded. To those who complain, I merely demand they return the item for a full refund. Some I never hear from again, others return the item. Once I received dud tubes back that were not my stock from a dishonest buyer. Such is the cost of doing business on eBay. I rarely have these issues with clients who buy from my website, but dishonest buyers seem to lurk on eBay for some reason. Be prepared to list enough stock on eBay to offset these losses.

In spite of the bad side of eBay, the huge audience it attracts almost always nets you a sale. With a large business, who will certainly have dead stock issues regardless of the type of antiques sold, eBay is a great place to display your odd lots and back room treasures. Buyers worldwide are waiting to bid on offbeat and unique items. Even if you sell at cost or below, some items will sell for much more, and will add to your bottom line.

Most antique shops that do accounting on a calendar year basis will have stock purchased more than a year ago that is written off the books. Any sale of such items is found money and converting it to cash, at any price, is well worth the effort. It cleans out dead stock, adds to your bottom line and may even keep you profitable in lean months.

– Brent Jessee
Brent Jessee Recording & Supply Inc.
Hoffman Estates, Ill.


Now that AB391 is law, dealers ask what’s next

I recently read the article in Antique Trader regarding AB391, also the follow-up comment from the Pawn Brokers Assoc. This bill is poorly written and was not very well thought out. The author has no understanding of the enormity of this trade! The only reason I can see for the Pawn Brokers Assoc. to want Secondhand Dealers and Antique Dealers grouped in with them on this bill is to lesson their burden of the cost for the database system.

How this bill effects my business? I have a small 1,800 sq.-ft. antique store, with 35 consignors. I’m already dealing with rising overhead, this new system and licensing is an additional yearly cost that cuts in to my profits as well as my consignors’. The additional paperwork and the lack of room to house items for 30 days before I can put them out for sale is also an issue. Every one of my consignors I have talked to about this bill said they would no longer consign if the system was implemented, thus putting me out of business.

I am one shop in a town with 11; five are antique malls with 20-plus dealers, four of us deal in consignments. Even if this bill manages to put a third of us out of business, the lost revenue in sales tax alone would be substantial. We all belong to our local antique association (PACMA) and at our last meeting had a representative from our assemblyman’s office address our group about this bill. We as a group are looking into having this bill (now law, passed last month and signed by the governor) revised to have secondhand dealers and antique dealers removed from this law.

I would be interested in knowing how many secondhand and antique dealers are aware that this bill was even passed and now law? I would also like to know how many other organizations or associations are opposing this as well? We all need to ban together, join our forces and get this amended!

– Robert Bainbridge
Bainbridge Antiques
Paradise, Calif.

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law AB 391 on Aug. 17, 2012. AB 391 mandates that the single Online Statewide Digital Database be funded through pawnbroker and secondhand dealer licensing fees. The software is expected to be implemented in stores across the state by 2013. Assemblyman Richard Pan, who authored the bill, states there will be no change in the Business & Professions Code, which exempts flea markets and fairs from the reporting requirements. -Editor


Ceramic collector only buying from other collectors

Perhaps one person’s cynicism is another’s wisdom, but I tend to believe if you think something is bad, it’s probably much worse than you think. I bring this up in response to the deceptive and illegal practices of some auction houses, from the most hoity-toity establishments to uninformed eBay sellers. At least on eBay, one is easily protected from listing errors, intentional or not. (Thank goodness most eBay sellers are as reliable and honest as their knowledge allows them to be.)

Being prudently wary of auction problems explains in part why I collect art deco era Kent Art Ware ceramics. It is not being reproduced, as there is little demand, its easy-to-read mark is protected under the glaze and most of the time it’s relatively inexpensive. If any readers have an item of Kent Art Ware they will sell, I am ready to buy. I would especially like to find, not the 6-inch tall, but the approximately
8 3/4-inch tall, all white Trojan horse head.

Thanks for wonderful Antique Trader and kind regards,
– Dave Eaton,


Where can we find Evapo-Rust?

This is in reference to Bert Zwonecher regarding a product called Evapo-Rust (Aug. 22 edition). I am having a problem locating this product. Thanking you in advance for your help.
– R. Scanlon, Wantagh, N.Y.

Evapo-Rust is distributed by Daubert Cromwell, 12701 S Ridgeway Ave., Alsip, IL 60803 ( or 800-535-3535 or 888-846-4299, or

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