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How to sell hobby items by mail

You can, if you are ambitious, start a Mail Order Business selling collectibles to hobbyists 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 Street Car Tokens Boat Photographs
Cigar Labels Fruit Jar Labels Advertising Cards
License Plates Old Magazines Dog Pictures
Beer Labels Gun Catalogs Movie Magazines
Circus Posters Paper Currency Autographs
Music Boxes Cartoon Books Dolls
Salt/Pepper Shakers Theater Programs Hunting Licenses
Greeting Cards Political Buttons Valentines
Old Pencils Baseball Cards Cookbooks
Atlases Children's Books Beatles Items
Military Medals Stock Certificates Stamps
Sheet Music Indian Relics Old Toys
Doll Clothes Railroad Books Menus
Gems, Minerals Fishing Licenses Maps
Belt Buckles Cigar Boxes Thimbles
Airplane Photos Comic Books Train Photos
FBI Posters Old Calendars Newspapers
Automobile Manuals Postcards Diaries
Antique Barbed Wire Arrowheads Coins
Old Jewelry Railroad Passes Buttons


I would like to suggest that you send for sample copies of two magazines. They are read avidly by hobby dealers and hobby collectors alike:

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, if listed 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 dealers 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 publication that deals 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:

1. Start by attending flea markets and antique shows. 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 that way!

2. Browse around through Thrift Shops.

3. Study the garage sale ads in your local newspaper. Visit any that sound promising. (Sometimes, it pays to telephone, they may be able to direct you to others who have exactly what you need!)

4. 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 magazines.

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, laser printer, or xerox copies - it's half the fun of collecting. Then run your ad. Your ad can merely offer your list to interested collectors free (or for a SASE, 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 consideration:
* "Railroad Timetables, 1940's
Four Different - $4.00 postpaid."


* "Old Children's Books and Texts.
#10 SASE for List."


* "85,000 Comic Books, Movie Magazines,
Funnies, etc., 1900-1957. Catalog
$1.00 (Refundable)."

* "Original Movie Posters, Pressbooks,
Stills, 1919-1975. Catalog - $.50


* "Sleigh Bells! 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. (At the time this article was written, these publications were available. However, we can not guarantee that they are still in publication. There are several things you can do before sending a letter or money to them. You can check your local library in the Index of Periodicals or a local book store may be able to verify current addresses for them. Good luck). You can write to these publications and request a sample copy. However, it would be a good idea to include postage when requesting copies from the publisher.

HOBBIES
1006 S. MICHIGAN AVE.
CHICAGO, IL 60605


LYNN'S WEEKLY STAMP NEWS
BOX 29
SIDNEY, OH 45365


THE AUTOGRAPH NEWS
7540 S. MEMORIAL PARKWAY
HUNTSVILLE, AL 35802


DOLL CASTLE NEWS BRASS CASTLE
WASHINGTON, NJ 07882


WESTERN STAMP COLLECTOR
BOX 10
ALBANY, OR 97321


JESSIE'S HOMEMAKER
731 BLUE BELL STREET
FT. COLLINS, CO 80521


COIN & STAMP TRADING NEWS
BOX 11101
SANTA ROSA, CA 95406


CANADIAN HOBBY SHOPPER
BOX 3382 HALIFAX SOUTH, NS
CANADA B3J 3J1


STAMPS MAGAZINE
153 WAVERLY PLACE
NEW YORK, NY 10014


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