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Scalping and YOU.

May 18, 2007

    1. Scalping LEs has become an issue in the doll hobby over the last few years as these dolls have become more popular. What percentage or dollar amount increase above retail do you think constitutes scalping? What are you personally willing to do to combat scalping or flipping, or do you view it as a "necessary evil?" At what point does price policing go too far?

      Please discuss.

      This thread is not a formal debate, merely a discussion to share ideas on the topic. Please express yourself with tact and respond to other's opinion as well as sharing your own. The topic is not intended to be a meme, after all. You may use examples of what you feel constitutes scalping, but please do not mention sellers by name or use this thread as an opportunity to "call out" people who you feel are scalpers or rabid price policers.
    2. Scalping is an unfortunate trend that hits almost any popular hobby or interest group, and personally I believe that there is little that anyone can do to stop it. Unless a company makes a buyer sign a contract or something saying that this item cannot be resold for more then it's original price (which would never happen, at least here in the US) all a community can do is just keep an eye on these things.

      If someone truly wants something, however, it will often not matter how much the item is. It is that simple fact that keeps the scalpers in business. If I HAD to have U2 tickets and missed the original sale, I would easily expect to pay 3-5 times the original price, simply due to the old adage "Supply and Demand."

      It's similar to how the PT Cruiser car actually sold above retail for awhile when it was first released, the dealers knew they could get the money because they were still rare. Same with some dolls.

      Just my thoughts on the subject. :)

    3. Scalping will be around even after the BJD popularity fades.

      If I could get a doll that's very LE'ed I'd pay a lot more over retail for it because it's the only chance I'd have to own it.
      The only way to end it, would be to stop creating LE'ed dolls and such...

      Scalping needs a seller to up the price and a buyer who would pay anything to own it. There's really no way to prevent it, because someone is always willing to pay for that special LE doll. Unlike gas prices and such nessesities ... scalping dolls is not an offense that can lead to jail time. ( unless I missed that part... )
    4. As a retail buyer, I can understand factoring labor and shipping costs into a price for a doll. If the seller values their time at $100/hr and they spent ten hours in line at a Dolpa, well, I think they value their time a little too highly. :sweat
      I think that there are two acceptable pricing methods, period. Pick the dollar amount you would like to make and sell it at that price, first come first served. If someone buys it at that price, high or low, that's up to the buyer. By setting the price high (like 100% markup) you are damaging your reputation and possibly losing sales in the future. Short term gains rarely pay off.
      The second method is to sell it at auction starting at the original retail price on an arbitrated site like eBay. Shipping costs are not included, as you took the chance of not liking the doll in placing the order and you lost. There is none of the fishy behind the scenes dealing (in most cases) that happens when bids are taken via PM or email. The auction results are public and the seller is absolved of any accusations of greed, because it was started at a fair price.
    5. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't "scalping" buying something that is limited or sought-after with the intention of selling it for a profit? By this definition, I find scalping to be a not very nice practice at all. :/ However . . . I must admit that I am somewhat grateful to scalpers, in a twisted way, when they are pretty much the only way of getting something like, say, Scarface Captain Cecil.

      I am VERY picky and have a hard time bonding with dolls, and Volks is my favorite BJD maker. And since most of their dolls are LE . . . I have bought quite a few LE dolls at retail, fully expecting to love them, and then selling them after I realized that they weren't for me. I NEVER buy a LE with the intent of selling it . . . but if I buy a LE and find it isn't for me, I DO try to sell for the low end of "market value", not for the price I paid. Why? Well, because everybody else does . . . let me explain. ;) I have bought LE's on the secondary market (and paid the high price), and given my love of Volks dolls it is only a matter of time before I will have to go that route again to get a LE doll I want. And when I buy a sought-after LE on the secondary market, I wouldn't even hope to pay retail price. So why should I sell a sought-after LE that I WAS lucky enough to get for retail price? I'll take my luck where I get it, since I know I won't always be lucky getting LE's directly.

      Simply put: if I could buy LE's on the secondary market for retail (or close to it), then I wouldn't mind selling LE's that I did have and didn't want for what I paid. But it doesn't work that way . . . like it or not, sometimes its all about supply and demand. :/

      I agree with St. James on the auction thing . . . it is a way that a seller can get the high end of market value for a doll without seeming like they are asking a high market price. It seems kind of strange to me though . . . I mean, if I put my Kurumi up on eBay, I'd probably get MORE for her than if I just flat-out sold her for $1800 (and I KNOW a lot of people much prefer to straight-out purchase a doll). But in the case of the latter I'd be more like a "scalper"? It seems weird to me, though it is true.
    6. It does seem to be something that cannot be stopped, as long as there are buyers that will pay as much as possible to the LEs and sellers wanting more money then the doll is worth.
      Of course the pricing with LEs does not seem to reflect their dollar worth as much as how much someone wants it.

      My personal opinion is that anything with a price $250?+ over the original, that does not come with extras (wings, clothing ect) is a ripoff.... ones that go into the thousands are nothing more then scalping/thieft.
    7. Madoka and Kurumi both cost around $900 from Volks. So if I sold one of those dolls for, say, $1300, it would be a ripoff? I understand what you're saying, and I really wish that LE's were plentiful enough that supply met demand. But in some cases the supply is far less than the demand, and when more people want a doll than there are dolls available, prices get driven up. :( And scalpers, for better or worse, don't really determine the market price of a doll (or anything!). There's a reason you don't see Carol and Cindy on Y!J for $2000 but you do see Madoka and Kurumi for that -- its not so much scalpers setting a price, but it also has to do with how popular the doll is and how many were released and the way they were released.

      Scalpers certainly don't do anything to help keep the price of LE's down though -- in a small way they may drive the price up, simply because they went and bought the doll so they could sell it, instead of someone who really wanted it being able to buy it.
    8. While I dislike some scalpers, and if I was directly affected by one negativly I'd probably despise them, but really I don't have an issue with them...I sort of look at it as free market at work...nothing can be done about it. People may be horrified that I say this, but if I had the opportunity to 'scalp' without having going completely out of my way, I would. It's a way of making money...perhaps in a more personalized hobby like dolls it is harder for owners to see anything good in this but people scalped PS3s for money and I just...I just can't see how horrible it is. If you're willing to pay a scalper's price then go ahead, if not, there will probably be someone along the road who may sell for a better price.
    9. I've seen terribly obvious cases of scalping, where the scalpers sell dolls they haven't even received at a marked up price. It gets even more obvious when all they sell are limiteds and at a really quick rate too.

      If someone was to put one or two limiteds up for auction, and the price was driven up by bids, then I wouldn't see that as scalping. It's the ones who put up their dolls for 100% or even 200% profit that make me suspicious.

      I see a lot of 'we can't do anything to stop scalpers' but actually we can. We might not be able to stop them completely but as the buyers, we can certainly cause them to slow down their scalping practices. Supply and demand is what causes the limiteds to go for sky high from a scalpers' hands. But if we note who the scalpers are and try to avoid from buying from them, the demand from them reduces. Profit for them reduces and they're less likely to scalp. One or two people who I think are scalpers have slowed down their selling because I believe people have noted their rather notorious ways and avoided them. Lack of demand has caused them to reduce their supply. Sitting on our hands and saying we can't do anything at all seems too passive to me.

      Personally, I used to think that if I want a doll enough, I would fork out the cash, no matter the price. But as time went by, I've come to believe that if I want a certain doll enough, I'll get it eventually. I don't have to get it from the hands of a scalper.

      One last thing: This is a free market. We can't restrict who buys and who sells. Scalping, no matter how unwelcomed, is not technically illegal. That said, for anyone who has been in this hobby long enough, knowing the legality of it doesn't make it less distasteful. Feel free to condone scalping, but be aware that the majority of the hobby is not going to like you for it.
    10. I've just sold a fullset Volks LE for just under the price I paid for it about two years ago. Why? Because that is about what I paid for Heath. I've seen him go for easily 1 1/2 times what he cost at issue (Dolpa 13) -- I've seen him go for twice what he cost at issue. However, because I purchased him when I did, somebody else did not have an opportunity to do so.

      I think that scalping is wrong. Granted, there will people who figure if they can get the price, they might as well go for it. They'd probably feel a bit differently if they had to report that extra income to, say, the IRS ... (never mind that if you're in the USA, you are supposed to do so). However, because I think it's wrong, I won't do it. And because I won't do it, there is now an ecstatic new owner who knows that without folks like me, she wouldn't ever have been able to bring her new boy home.

      I like that feeling. It makes me feel better than a profit would have.
    11. I agree with this. I sold a Volks LE for the exact same price I got him for, because I didn't love him and a very good friend of mine did. I would rather make a friend happy and give the doll a good home rather than personally make a profit. However, if I didn't know anyone who wanted the doll, I would sell it to the highest bidder, starting it at the price I paid. After all, I would at least want to get my investment back.

      Linda S.
    12. I think we need to define exactly what entails scalping.

      If I see the prices that Volks Kurumi is going for, and specifically buy her at retail price to take advantage of the people willing to pay 2 to 3 times her retail price, *that* is scalping.

      If I get/have Kurumi, decide that I really don't like her, decide to sell, determine that the current going price is $2200 to $2900 and price her accordingly, I don't think this is scalping.

      If I buy Kurumi for $2000 decide I don't like her and turn around and sell her for what I paid, I don't think this is scalping.

      I think it is a matter of intent.

      On my personal selling habits, I sell my dolls for pretty much what I pay for them. If I've paid high, I charge high. If I'm lucky and get high demand doll for retail and decide to sell, I sell very close to retail. Buying high/selling high could potentially be construed as "scalping" from the way it seems defined so far in this thread.

      On the other hand, how smart/moral/business savvy/whatever is it to sell something for retail when you know that you could get twice the price. I know the buyers are very happy, but it doesn't make good business sense.
    13. I think...Scalping is wrong, but hard to determine. I agree with the idea of intent, but at the same point, should we consumers know when to draw the line?
      I forget where, but I saw someone try to sell a 900 bjd, nrfb, for like.. 3000 for the starting auction bid. THAT is wrong, no matter how you look at it.
      But if everyone thinks a scalper is overpriced, people should stop bidding on them an force them to re-evaluate their inflation rates.
    14. Hmm... it's a sensitive topic. I can say, in all honesty, that I will probably be a "scalper" sometime soon. XD It's an off-topic doll, but Blythe limited editions are sold in lotteries that are not open to North and South America, Africe, or Europe, but are open to Australia. Since I live in Australia I've decided to enter for every lottery I can, and if I happen to win a doll, get her, and decide I don't like her, I'll either auction her on eBay or a forum or try to trade her for a doll I'd rather have. I think some of the prices are outrageous but I want to make back what I spent- I'd start at around what I paid (including shipping), since at least with the Blythes in question they usually go for significantly more than that on eBay. Most Blythe limiteds cost about $175 US including shipping from the manufacturer, and sell for $250-$400 on eBay. I don't think selling starting at $175 instead of $150 is so bad in a market like that.

      If I had a friend who wanted a doll, I might think of part of that price as a gift and sell it to them for less than I paid (or as a gift if it was a very close friend), but not for a total stranger when the price I'd start at is already way below market price. : /

      I guess I can't help but be a bit greedy when I see what they go for.... ^^;
    15. Selling a LE doll that you got years, or even months, ago is not scalping, it's reselling. Scalping is buying extra dolls that you know you don't want because you know they'll be worth more very quickly, and it's especially a problem if you're reselling for significant profit before you have it in hand.

      Demand is what's really going to drive the price in the long run, but if everyone selling the doll in the first month is doubling the price they paid, and no one is selling at a reasonable price, it's going to skew the market value. If none of the people who got the LE doll actually wanted it, there's something seriously wrong with the system.
    16. I'm not fond of scalpers at all. I would adore to own some LE dolls sometime and not have to pay out my bum for them. I mean I have absolutly no problem if they get them and put them at a starting price of what they paid for them on an auction, but to get them and then just try to outright sell them for such high prices is nuts.
      Though I do still have problems with people who have owned and resell limiteds that want back what they paid for them. I mean in an auction you could have wanted it really bad and paid a lot or something, but technically you've owned it and played with it and to me in a sense that can be considered as "used". When you drive a car off the lot it decreases in value. Frankly in my eyes once a doll is played with, if it's a limited it's not worth more than 300 above its original retail. That is only in my eyes though and becuase of such high prices I know for a fact I will never own some of my dream dolls becuase I will never allow myself to spend my money on what is a resell of a probably scalped price.
    17. If more people had that sort of attitude, this community may be less of a 'market' and more of a community.

      And.. as the girl you are talking about... :aheartbea
    18. Would it change your feelings at all (about selling a LE low) if the person you sold it too immediately (the day it was received) re-sold it for significantly more money? Buyers are entitled to do what they want and more power to them, but I have had this happen to me and it did not make me feel good about selling so low.
    19. I believe that for those brave and noble, far less selfish than some (including myself, I admit), who take this risk of selling a LE for a lower price in the hope that someone who will truly love the doll may have their chance... it is a risk they must take.

      For my self? I own nothing but limiteds now. True, two of them are worth a lot more than the others. After all, an Emma head is easy to come by and so is a Chiwoo Elf... but... a Fullset Heath? A Shiwoo Elf? Very difficult. I've cried tears over one of these, which be my Heath (who is on his way! yay!), and could have cried if I saw my dream Shiwoo-Elf in someone else's hands. I can say, that to the people who took the risk that I truly wanted these dolls to love them and not to resell... I am indebted to that, and though I've already paid them with money, I can never truly express how much it saves me.

      Heath could have been torn into pieces and auctioned off for much more than she received. But, I now have a *dream* baby in my life. Soon in my arms.

      I am touched to know that to some sellers, this is more important than making a profit. Hopefully I'll remember that when I will go to sell a doll again.
    20. I wouldn't buy a doll just to resale it but I have sold a lot of dolls since I wont keep a doll I don't really love and it's hard for me to know how much I'll like a doll before I physically have it. The dolls I've sold so far were for about what I paid for them but whatever doll I sale will be at market price. I don't like people who buy something just to immediately resale much higher but if I wanted a doll badly enough I would probably buy it from a scalper.