You can, if you are ambitious, start a Mail Order Business
selling collectibles to hobbyist by mail. To begin, you must
first find a hobby that appeals to YOU. Next, you must spend
several weeks researching that hobby. You must learn what
collectors want and how much they are willing to pay for it.
You should also know what other dealers are willing to pay for
the merchandise which they sell. And you must be willing to pay
the same amounts.
Perhaps you already know exactly what you want to sell. If you
have been collecting old Valentines, then start a Mail Order
business buying and selling old Valentines. Or Stamps. Or
Comic Books. The first rule of Mail Order selling is to sell
what you yourself would buy.
To give you an idea of what collectors buy and sell by mail,
here is a partial list of today's collectibles:
Phonograph Records Cigar Labels License Plates
Beer Labels Circus Posters Music Boxes
Salt/Pepper Shakers Greeting Cards Old Pencils
Atlases Military Medals Sheet Music
Doll Clothes Menus Cigar Boxes
Train Photos Old Calendars Maps
Street Car Tokens Buttons Postcards
Fruit Car Tokens Fruit Jar Labels Old Magazines
Gun Catalogs Paper Currency Cartoon Books
Theatre Programs Political Buttons Baseball Cards
Children's Books Stock Certificates Old Toys
Gems, Minerals Belt Buckles Airplane Photos
FBI Posters Newspapers Coins
Arrowheads Old Jewelry Boat Photographs
Advertising Cards Dog Pictures Movie Magazines
Autographs Dolls Hunting Licenses
Valentines Cookbooks Beatle Items
Stamps Indian Relics Railroad Books
Fishing Licenses Comic Books Thimbles
Automobile Manuals Diaries Railroad Passes
Antique Barbed Wire
I would like to suggest that you send for sample copies of two
magazines. They are read avidly by hobby dealers and hobby
THE COLLECTORS NEWS, Box 156, Grundy Center, IA 50638
THE ANTIQUE TRADER WEEKLY, Box 1050, Dubuque, IA 52001
Each of these publications contain around 70 or 80 pages of ads
from dealers and collectors. Almost every hobby publication,
large or small, is listed somewhere within its pages.
Once you have selected your field, start a file. Keep copies of
all the ads selling your kind of merchandise. Also keep ads
showing the dealer's buying prices. If price lists are offered
in ads, send for them and STUDY them. MAKE YOURSELF
AN EXPERT IN YOUR FIELD.
Try to locate any publications that deal with your field.
Often, you can locate small mimeographed publications and
newsletters which will give you all kinds of useful information.
Your next step is to look for merchandise in your own community.
Here are some suggestions:
Start by attending flea markets and antique shoes. Don't be
afraid to make inquiries of dealers. They often have what they
consider "junk" stashed away, assuming that it isn't of much
value to anyone. I once discovered a fabulous stamp collection
Browse around through Thrift Shops.
Study the garage sale ads in your local newspaper. Visit any
that sound promising. (Sometimes, it pays to telephone first.
Also, by telling people what kind of merchandise you are looking
for, they may be able to direct you to others who have exactly
what you need!)
Place "Wanted to Buy" ads in your local Swapper's News, or
your local newspaper. Be sure to list your phone number.
It is amazing what you can find in your local community if you
work at it. However, if you can't find enough merchandise
locally, run ads in the Collector's Magazines listed above.
Their rates are very, very low. And you will soon discover that
they are widely read!
Once you have accumulated a decent stock of merchandise, you are
ready to begin selling it. If there are publications
specializing in your field, by all means advertise there. You
have a ready-made audience! Also run ads in the big hobby
Type up a list of what you have and have an Instant Printer make
a hundred or so copies for you. Hobbyists don't mind
typewritten, mimeographed, or Xerox copies . . . it's half the
fund of collecting. Then run your ad. Your ad can merely offer
your list to interested collectors free (or for a stamp, to weed
out coupon clippers). Or you can offer to make a sale straight
from the ad. If you do the latter, stick in your price list
with the merchandise. It will be read . . . eagerly!
Here are a few sample ads run by hobby dealers for your
"Railroad Timetables, 1940's
Four different - $4.00 postpaid..
"Old Children's Books and Texts. Stamp for List."
"85,000 Comic Books, Movie Magazines, Funnies, etc.
1900-1957. Catalog $1.00 (Refundable)."
"Original Movie Poster, Pressbooks,
Stills, 1919-1975. Catalog - 50 cents"
"Sleigh Bells! Stamp for list."
"Sheet Music. SASE for list."
Just in case you are not familiar with the phrase, "SASE" means
"Self-addressed, stamped envelope". As you progress, you will
learn continually. Most hobby dealers will tell you that they
learn more from the collectors who buy from them than they could
ever learn from any other source.
Below are some other hobby publications that may interest you.
It would be a good idea to include postage when requesting
copies from the publisher.
Antiques and Collecting Hobbies, 1006 S. Michigan Ave.,
Chicago, IL 60605
Linn's Stamp News, Box 29, Sidney, OH 45365
Doll Castle News, Box 247, Washington, NJ 07882