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Considering selling my entire collection

mkoeselmkoesel USAMember Posts: 97
Let me say first off that I realize there is a Marketplace forum for posting items for sale.  I am not quite ready for that yet, however.

What I am very interested in right now is feedback from anyone who has either bought an entire collection before or - although I suppose they'd be significantly less likely to remain readers of the forum - anyone who has sold an entire collection before.  Of course, feedback from any other member is also welcome.

My collection has grown quite large (more than 1000 sets) over the course of twenty-plus years.  For example, I am nearly fully complete in Technic, nearly retail-complete in Star Wars, and and I believe I am retail-complete in Creator.  I should clarify that all those are through 2016 - I am not up to date on 2017 sets.  I am also nearly retail complete in Bionicle (not including the reboot).  For those curious, my Brickset user name is the same as my Brickset Forum user name and I believe my collection is public.  I have the original boxes and instructions for all sets.

I understand that I could get more money by selling individual sets.  However, due to circumstances which include both the available free time I have and the fact that most sets are disassembled and the bricks sorted (or worse, mixed together in large unsorted bins), that is not necessarily practical.  It would perhaps be practical for a fellow collector who might purchase the collection however - they could assemble and resell some sets at a profit, no doubt.

Since it is natural for folks to ask "Why?", I'll answer that up front.  A big factor in my wanting to sell is that I do not use my collection to build nor do I have many pieces on display.  Furthermore, these days, I mostly buy new sets to honor my nearly complete themes that I've worked diligently on over the years.  I still enjoy a good build, and, as it always has, the hobby provides me with joy, stress relief, and perhaps helps keep my mind sharp too. However, my interests have changed significantly over the past five years, and after thinking on it for a few months now, I am getting serious about letting go.  As a matter of full disclosure, I will also add that other recent personal events in my life have only made the possibility seem more and more practical.

Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts.

Comments

  • drdesignzdrdesignz USMember Posts: 95
    The buyers with the kind of money and interest to buy a collection like all at once that are few.  I know a couple.  But you're going to get a lot less than it's fully worth.  The buyers who want individual sets are many, and they're willing to pay closer to full price.  But you'd have to sell over time, many times in increments.  In other words, you can sell it all at once for little, or sell it all piece by piece, for a lot.  I think you're aware of this, so I'm not sure what kind of advice there is beyond that.  Besides putting together an inventory list and taking pictures, which seems obvious.  I can move that kind of collection, if that's what you really want.  I've done it before.  Or if you have less general questions.
    maaaaaaa
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 15,067
    I don't think you'll find a buyer for such a mixed collection, unless it is very cheap and you highlight that the all the rare parts from the sought after sets are present - so you will need to do some sorting anyway. Star Wars, Technic and Creator are not really similar themes, so not so many buyers interested in all of it. So if a buyer has to buy large collections of things they are not so interested in, then that drops the price. If they are mixed up, it suggests that the sets haven't really been cared for that well - it is not like they have been built and displayed only. It is a lot of work sorting sets out, especially if the buyer cannot be sure that all the pieces are there. So a reseller has to make profit on selling them, plus has to sort them too, so again drops the price. I reckon you'll get only 20-25% of the real value selling as a mixed lot.

    It would be better to sort out the most value sets and sell those individually, then sell the rest as bulk.
  • mkoeselmkoesel USAMember Posts: 97
    edited August 22
    Thank you for your comments.  I have already received some interest in the collection so I am optimistic a sale can be made for it in its entirety.

    One thing I am pondering is how to go about assigning a selling price to the collection.  Actual market value aside, one approach I've thought of is to perhaps come up with a percentage "discount" that is reasonable based on the fact that the sets are being bought together and mixed together.  That is to say that if a given set would fetch, say, $100 on the open market, perhaps I set its selling price at $100 - n% for the purposes of the sale.  The question is, what is reasonable number for "n".  Perhaps there are opinions on that.  I would start by suggesting it should be more than 50% but less than 90%.  That's a very wide net to cast, but at least it gets the conversation started.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 15,067
    Do you know if the interest is from a reseller or a buyer that wants the sets for themselves? As that will change what they are willing to pay.

    A reseller will pay nowhere near 90% of the value. Used sets often take a while to sell at their market value, and often need discounting, plus there are usually ebay  / BL fees and PayPal fees so if they pay 90%, there is likely no profit at all for them. When you consider it is reasonably easy to buy new sets and sell at 50% markup within not too large a wait if you know what to buy (so sell at 1.5x what you bought for), that means you already have a ceiling of 66% of their value - otherwise they'll probably invest in new. But this seller is also going to have to do a lot of work sorting them before they can sell them, and take the risk that the sets are complete.

    A buyer / collector might be willing to pay more since they don't need the profit margin.
  • mkoeselmkoesel USAMember Posts: 97
    edited August 22
    That's a very fair observation.

    My best estimation right now is that most who are serious about making the purchase would intend to do a mix of what you describe.  Keep some, sell some.

    Its true that on a pure profit margin basis, there are better ways to make money on Lego than buying a collection like this and selling off individual sets.  The real opportunity here is for someone to get a large number of sets that they want and intend to keep for a price that is less than what they'd pay individually, and then be able to sell off what they don't want to keep as a way to help subsidize the purchase.
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 7,928
    It would also probably be worth your time to go through @ToddMyers Marketplace posts to see the progress he made in selling a very extensive collection.

    He did share his thoughts and experiences on doing what you are considering.
    mkoesel
  • drdesignzdrdesignz USMember Posts: 95
    I think you're going to be highly disappointed if that's the kind of range you're thinking of.  I honestly do not believe you will get more than 50% of the full retail value, selling it all together.  Unless I've misunderstood what you're saying.  My interpretation was the same as CCC.  That's you're looking for up to 90% of its full value.  If, instead, you meant $100 minus 90%, as you've written, so that you're getting at least $10 per $100 retail, then you're exactly right.  I think 10% to 50% of full retail is realistically what you're looking at.  66% is too optimistic, I feel.  But not impossible, if you happen to find the right collector.  I can't see a re-seller paying this, unless they're inexperienced.

    I can give you a brief summary about a real-life situation as an example.  I met someone with a lifetime collection worth tens of thousands, on paper, as fully documented and inventoried, who was trying to sell it all, piece by piece, set by set.  I offered to help with that.  I also offered a cash payment for everything, which they rejected.  That figure was somewhere in the 10 to 12% range, so it's understandable they weren't interested at all.  They managed to sell everything with my help.  But after that, they told me they wished they had accepted my offer instead.

    That said, if you're serious about selling, I think the first thing you should do is figure out what you have exactly.  You're going to have to do this, regardless of whether you sell in increments or all together.  Simply saying, I have nearly the entire Technic collection, isn't going to be sufficient, impressive as that is.  Make a list, a spreadsheet, some sort of text documentation, and take pictures.  The better you document, the better the chances of selling and increasing the sales price.  

    When you've completed that, then you will be better able to figure out a realistic price.  I would recommend putting it all on eBay, in one lot, immediately.  If only for the advertising.  Re-sellers and serious collectors will be all over that.  Put a buy-it-now price on it of the ideal amount you wish to get out of it, and a best offer option.  You never know, eBay can be crazy and you may just get lucky and find someone with the cash to blow.  At the least, you'll get more realistic offers, so you'll know what it's actually worth... what someone is willing to pay.  

  • ToddMyersToddMyers Cincinnati, OHMember Posts: 328
    edited August 22
    Thanks for the tag, @SumoLego

    You can see my marketplace monster thread here: http://bricksetforum.com/discussion/21131/selling-off-my-collection-southwest-ohio-usa

    If you are looking for the mythical angel collector to swoop down and buy off your entire collection (or very large parts thereof), I would not hold your breath.  I never did really find such an individual (a few claimed to be interested but never pulled the trigger).  You are more likely to find resellers willing to give you 50% (or less) of the value of your collection, and I was not into taking that kind of loss.

    I did, however, have decent luck in the Brickset marketplace in finding collectors who wanted quite a few pieces from my collection.  I think the record went to a collector in Florida who purchased around 50 sets from me -- it shipped out in three 2-foot x 2-foot containers.  I also found a collector to buy my complete set of LEGO Chess sets and a collector to buy all of my promotional LEGO Factory sets (e.g. #4000002).  However, I never did find collectors who were interested in purchasing most of the completed themes I had (Alien Conquest, Prince of Persia, Lone Ranger, Avatar, Model Team, etc.).

    Unless you are willing to take a huge financial loss, the only real way to unload a collection like this is, unfortunately, one piece at a time. I never wanted to become a seller, but that's what I needed to do to unload the 650 sets in my collection (and, overall, it wasn't that terrible of an experience). For the first 18 months of selling my collection, I focused only on local AFOLs that I personally knew, the marketplace here on Brickset, Craigslist, and a BrickLink store (I avoided eBay like the plague because of their high 10% selling fees).  After 18 months as my collection dwindled and the best sets were sold off, sales basically stopped and I bit the bullet and started selling on eBay.

    I started selling in September 2015 when my collection was around 650 sets.  I'm now down to 27 sets.  I had hoped that I would have everything gone by now, but no such luck.  I guess I could slash my prices and make the remaining sets attractive to resellers, but I'm still not inclined to go that route.

    I did have one person (a local reseller I know) offer to sell my collection for me, taking a percentage of the final sale amount.  I did not take him up on the offer, but that may be a decent financial middle ground between selling to a reseller at a steep discount and selling piece-by-piece yourself.

    If you have any specific questions, fire away or send me a PM -- I'd be happy to bloviate.

    Todd

    Most of my former collection: https://brickset.com/sets/list-19146

  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 15,067
    ^ Didn't you also have the considerable advantage in that your sets were not mixed up.
  • ToddMyersToddMyers Cincinnati, OHMember Posts: 328
    edited August 22
    @CCC Yep.  My entire collection was built and displayed, and I had all critical extra pieces (such as the extras in Creator and Model Team sets that are needed for alternate models) saved in marked bags.

    I honestly missed that crucial part of OPs comment.  Having the pieces mixed is a complete nightmare.  I cannot fathom how long it would take to pull out the correct pieces for even a fraction of the 1,000 sets.  That's definitely a game changer, making my experience not-so-applicable here.
  • YodaliciousYodalicious DagobahMember Posts: 1,278
    ^ And, not to say all of the sets aren't there, but how would a buyer know they're all there if they're mixed together? That's a leap of faith for such a big purchase...

    ...vs...

    ...when I bought specific sets from @ToddMyers, he had pictures of those sets and they were individually bagged, allowing me to quickly verify everything was there.

    Like others, not to discourage the original poster, and if you can get someone to bit on the entire collection, that's great...but it might be a battle to get what you truly want from it. Definitely wishing you good luck though.
  • mkoeselmkoesel USAMember Posts: 97
    edited August 22
    I appreciate the all of the discussion.  Lots of great points being made.  

    I read through your thread, ToddMyers - congrats to you for having the patience to make your effort a success.  I do have some sets built as you did - probably a few dozen, including all of the modular buildings and some larger Star Wars and Technic models - and it may perhaps be wise to sell some of those separately.  It's something I will definitely consider, particularly after seeing how your sale has gone.

    Regarding the point made above about all of the parts being present - its a very important consideration, indeed.  I'd already thought about that, and I agree it is not a simple problem to solve on the face of things.  Not only would a buyer have to - at some point, after conducting as thorough an inspection as is practical - put faith in the fact that the sets are complete, as the seller I would have to extend trust that they will not come back later and say that parts were missing when in reality they were there all along.  To some degree these things are always a concern when selling Lego, but with such a large sale, it becomes that much more sticky.

    I haven't been active in the Lego community for quite some time.  Back when I was, I met some fellow collectors and typically found people to be friendly, good, and reasonable.  It was with that sort of knowledge of the community that I approached this task, hoping that an overall theme of good will and understanding would go a long way to eventually arriving at a sale.  That's a big reason why I started this discussion - to start to get a feel for the community again and begin to wrap my head around what's ahead.  I appreciate all of you for helping me out as I begin the journey.
  • mnbvcmnbvc Member Posts: 124
    This is a really interesting topic, and I wish you luck with whatever you decide to do.  The two questions I'd ask are:

    How much time are you willing to invest?  
    How much is your time worth?

    Don't let it be a false economy; if you really want to shut the door on Lego as a hobby, then do you want to spending your free time sorting through sets, and maximising your returns?

    If you do, then that's great - personally, I'd go all out.  I'd pick out the most expensive and desirable sets first and enjoying re-building them for the last time.  I'd take great photos, box them up, write a great sales pitch for eBay/Bricklink etc and emphasise that you have the box+instructions+bricks.

    ...but if you don't have the time to invest, then is this going to turn into a chore?

    With a slightly more philosophical angle, think of it this way - you've paid for your bricks and enjoyed your builds.  You've had your collection for years and had fun with it.  Don't let it be a chain around your neck for the next 2 years in the hope of getting some cash.  After all, people drink alcohol, or pay to watch live sport...or even buy expensive computer games which end up being almost worthless within 5 years - they get little return from their original outlay; it's all about the initial experience, and you've had that joy from building the sets originally. 

    Think how much this means to you - and if you can't bear the thought of not getting a decent £££ for your collection, then it's evident that it's worth your time trying to maximise your return.

    ...but if you're sat here thinking, "Well, it's not something I want to do - the building, the photos, the listings, the post office, the liaising and negotiating..."   If that's your first thought, then maybe look back at it as something you enjoyed for a while and try and sell it off at a price you think is a nice little bonus.

    You'll have enough elements to pique the interest of a few buyers, and you don't have to make the promise of the sets being entirely complete.  You can sell as a bulk lot and walk away.

    Or, you could split the difference - sell the premium things, and sell the rest as a bulk lot (or donate it to a place for kids or whatever).  Choose a £££ figure you're happy with (or a duration of time you're willing to spend on selling), and once you've hit it, let the rest go.

    Think really hard about what you want to spend your time doing - life is short, but at the same time, don't regret letting a collection go for a low price if the money is an issue for you.

    And the final curve ball - do you definitely want to sell?!  Is it worth putting your sets away for a while and seeing how you feel in a few years - nothing worse than seller's remorse.

    (And as someone in the UK who doesn't collect Technic and has never - I KNOW - seen Star Wars, I say all of this without an ulterior motive!)

    Good luck.  :)
    PeteMcatwranglerecmo47brickventures
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