Ten Tips to Improve Your Collection and Your Collecting Habits

I read an article over the weekend from the Auction Rebel, on How to Recession Proof Your eBay Business.  As I thought about it, I realized that many of the points could apply to the collector and casual eBay seller in virtually any market.  The 10 individual points are from the original article.

1. Don’t Panic

Times have gotten tougher, but your situation may have gotten better.  Only you can answer the question about your personal financial situation.  Assuming you have things under control, you have to ask yourself is your collecting budget appropriate for your current state of affairs or does it need to be changed.   Roy Weatherbee left a comment on my post on 2009 Collecting Goals which I think is also appropriate here:

I think setting “reasonable” goals is the key. Many of us bitten by the collecting bug are tempted to try and collect everything, but this is not a very realistic goal especially in tougher economic times like these.

….So one of my goals for 2009 would definitely be to watch for bargains on older, rarer pieces that are seldom seen, and to lay off of many of the newer “contrived” rarities being pumped out by so many lodges and councils.

But also refocus on my area of interest – OA lodge issues (in my case, from Region 1 / New England exclusively), and perhaps “thin out” some of my side collections that don’t really interest me as much (CSPs, RWS, camps, etc). A little belt-tightening as it were, in keeping with the times.

2. Focus On Your eBay Business (Collection)

Don’t get distracted on side collections, stay focused the core not on fads and novelties.  Try to set a focused goals for what you would like to see your collection look like in 3 months, in 6 months or in a year.  Think through the steps and actions which would be needed to get you there.  Are they realistic?  A goal of getting those last 100 number needs is fine, but unless you have pretty deep pockets, you are unlikely to get there anytime soon.  Reducing the number from 100 to 90 or even 75 may be more realistic.

Stay focused on what you are trying to accomplish.

If your one of your primary goals is to create a set of flaps from all of the predecessor lodges from your current section,  it may not be the time to expand your collecting area to the entire Region.

3. Pay Attention To Expenses

Take a hard look at your collecting budget, are you spending it wisely?  Are there things you are buying or subscribing to which do not fit your current collecting vision? Perhaps now is the time to cut them out.  While organizing and protecting your collection are vital, are there less expensive alternatives?

4. Work Hard & Work Smart

Get organized, know what you need and what you have to offer.  Updating your needs and dupe lists will prevent you from acquiring that long sought after need only to find you had already got one.  Look to trade for your needs through Patch-L, ISCA or other venues where you can knock off a need or two without reaching into your wallet.

5. Explore Ways To Improve & Expand Your Business (Collection)

Develop a plan on ways to increase the size of your collecting circle.  If you find more people to trade with, or buy from you increase the chances to pick up those needs.  Check out Google Groups, FaceBook, MySpace or a myriad of other Social sites where you might find a new trading partners.  Check the TOR  calendar on the ISCA website and see if there is one in your area coming up that you have not visited before.  Build a website, start a blog, discussion forum or ???

6. Look For Opportunities

During a economic downturn there are always opportunities for those who are astute enough to recognize them.

Roy alluded to this in his comment too:

…. to watch for bargains on older, rarer pieces that are seldom seen, and to lay off of many of the newer “contrived” rarities being pumped out by so many lodges and councils.

If your budget allows, now may be the time to take advantage of any opportunity that may arise.  Understanding that it may take time to recover your investment.  You may be able to obtain certain items from your collecting specialties at lower prices than have been recently seen.  This could serve to improve your trading stock at a discounted price.

Looking for opportunities could also mean looking for new sources for your collecting needs.  Garage sales, flea Markets, auction houses, Craigslist may also provide chances to add to your collection.

7. Search Out Additional Income Streams

This one of course is for the seller or at least for someone thinking of selling.  Do you have some duplicates you can thin out or other items that you could sell to finance that next acquisition?  Books, DVD’s, CD’s, Computer or Console Games are only some of the items which can be sold on eBay or in other venues.  Remove some clutter from your life and add a bit to your collecting budget.

8. Build Relationships With Your Customers

While those you trade with are not customers, it can help to think of them that way.  What can you do to create repeat business or secondary and tertiary trades.  Perhaps developing a small group of trading partners in different areas of the country.  Having new issues from lodges in other regions can help spruce up those dupes from a handful of local lodges that nearly everyone in the lodge has seen before.

If you do sell on eBay or on your own website, what can you do to bring as many first time customers back to buy from you again and again or complete trades with them outside of eBay?  Adding a needs list or dupe list in the envelope with each completed sale?  If your buying on eBay, letting the seller know your interested in similar items to the one you purchased?

9. Build Networks

I touched on this earlier, there are now a myriad of social networking sites which can expand your collecting horizons  and offer opportunities to find new sources of that elusive patch or leads on others who have similar interests.

10. Make Well Thought Out Investments In Your Business (Collection)

Point number three referred to reducing expenses, but not all expenses are bad.  Collecting guides, a subscription to OA Images or the ISCA Journal can make you a more knowledgeable collector.  They may actually save you money by allowing you to make wiser decisions.

If an investment of $5 or even $50 a month will allow you to recoup your investment each month and improve the profitability of your business, invest the money.

I have only scratched the surface of what can be done to improve your collection, what would you suggest?


I don’t have an English accent because this is what English sounds like when spoken properly.
James Carr, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
Author: nyoatrader
To share information about new or newly discovered Order of the Arrows patches, flaps, odd-shapes, neckerchiefs, event and chapter issues from New York State Order of the Arrow Lodges, warnings about fakes, spoof, and reproductions and any other information that may be of interest to New York State OA Collectors.

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