After twenty-five years of not buying collections, something seems to have changed.
I spent the first fifteen years at Pegasus Books firmly in the collector mode. I'd buy and sell collections of comics, card, toys, whatever I could sell. I saw comics and cards more as a collectable than a form of entertainment.
When both the card and comic markets collapsed within a couple years of each other in the mid 90s, I saw the error of my ways. Or, more exactly, I saw that comics readers, as opposed to collectors, were still customers after all the wreckage. It was a much smaller group, but just enough to keep the business alive. Card collectors, on the other hand, disappeared altogether. I even came up with a saying, "Collectors always quit, but readers keep reading."
I upped my prices up to retail, maintaining keystone from that moment on. It was a tough decade, but I built the business back up on a new, firmer foundation.
I also had a form of PTSD when it came to buying off the street. Every time I ventured even slightly into the collectors' world, I'd recoiled in alarm and disgust. My anger would instantly manifest. It wasn't healthy for me.
So I simply said, No. No. No. No. No.
I would try to stop the seller from proceeding with a firm, "I buy all my stuff from wholesalers and sell at retail."
The very persistence of some sellers only reinforced those feelings. Card collectors especially wouldn't take no for an answer. They'd persist, asking me what their collections are worth. Then get mad when I couldn't tell them.
Notice I said couldn't tell them, not wouldn't tell them. See, here's the thing: if I'd not bought anything in years, decades even, how on earth would I know what things are worth on the collector market? It's like going into a car dealership and asking what your bike is worth.
Understand then...I didn't buy anything, no matter what the seller told me. It was a firm no to everything.
But something has changed. In the last few months I've bought a large collection of comics, a nice collection of paperback and pulp books, and recently a batch of LOTR's toys.
In all three cases, the price was right. The sellers came to me with realistic expectations of what their collections were worth. In a couple of cases, they told me what they wanted and it was reasonable.
Turns out, I wasn't actually opposed to buying collections, I was opposed the the process of buying collections. But if my PTSD doesn't manifest, then I might buy.
Maybe it just took twenty-five years to get over the trauma.
Don't think I've opened to door to buying again, but... I have decided that I can at least ask the seller if they have a price they want and, in the rare cases where they are realistic, I might....might....maybe, if the sun and stars align, and you are a pleasant person, and the stuff personally interests me, and I think I can sell it over a reasonable period of time....I might go ahead and buy.
I also suspect, the first bad experience will set me back to my former, much more contented mode of not buying at all.