To consign pipes or not?

This topic might stir up some discontent within the pipe selling community, then again, for the honest dealers, it will be welcome.

You’ve got too many pipes, or you have decided to cull your collection or change collecting direction. What do you do? What is the best avenue to turn those pipes that need to find new homes into usable cash?

There are numerous avenues you might select, but selecting the correct one, for you, takes some thought and research.

Why am I bringing up this topic is probably your first question, since I am no longer in the pipe business. Sadly, over the past few months I have been getting questions about some of the estate pipe dealers. No names shall be mentioned. Question most often asked is ….. Any idea why they do not reply to my emails or phone calls? Another is …. who do you (meaning me) suggest?

To begin with let us address the first and most common question. My first answer is always, I do not know. How and why should I know? IF and only IF I know the dealer AND the person asking the question, I may (not always) make a few inquiries or make a direct phone call, to the dealer in question.

Please understand something …. Just because you emailed someone does not always mean their reply gets to you. I just had a situation with a watch dealer that I had been trying to reach for 6 months. Finally, I sent an email with another account I have and within an hour had a reply. His first question was “haven’t you been getting my replies” and here they are attached. Appears my usual email server had been deemed as a spam domain and thus his server was blocking anything coming my way.

Why they do not reply to your phone calls would be of more concern. Then I would suggest making some inquiries on your own to other dealers, retailers, and collectors for any information they might have.

When the largest portion of your business is in consignment goods, things can go south in a heartbeat. If the business does not have enough capital up front, you are funding their business. Not a good business model.

To really understand where you stand “legally” when sending goods to a seller on consignment I strongly suggest you watch this video from the Federico Talks Watches YouTube channel.

So now that you have viewed this video and you understand that you don’t have a leg to stand on if the dealer screws off with your pipes and money, where should you go with the pipes?

For each of you the answer may be quite different. How many pipes are there? Are they highly sought after / collectable? How fast do you need them sold? Can I do this myself?

In reverse order as it is the easiest to answer. Yes, you can, but are you willing to take the time needed and have all the equipment to make it worthwhile? E-Bay and Pay Pal accounts? Camera? Pipe cleaning equipment and materials? Measuring tools for dimensions and weight? Free time to do these things? If you do, then sure E-Bay is an option, but get ready to pay their fees as well as Pay Pal.

How fast do you need cash? If you are in a rush then you will need to find a dealer that will buy the pipes outright and pay right away, which means not a consignment seller. Before you consider sending the pipes try and find out an idea of what the pipes are worth. Check some well-known sites to see what similar pipes are selling for. Be honest with yourself about the condition of your pipes. If the ones you are looking at are mint with box and sock and yours have tooth marks, then yours are worth much less. Do not use E-Bay as a market value tool. Prices on similar pipes can vary for numerous reasons. Seller’s reputation. Quality of images. Amount of information provided. When the listing ends. Location of seller. These all can increase or diminish the end selling price.

If you have the tools and time, then E-Bay is a viable option. Just remember you are rolling the dice since you have no idea what an item might sell for. You can have your items sold in seven days.
A serious dealer might (and I do mean might) offer you some guesstimates on the values, but until they have each pipe in hand it won’t be an exact quote. Just a rough idea. For this you will need to contact the dealer directly. Get a feel for them in your gut. Do they sound trustworthy? Are they serious? What have friends and other collectors said about them? Open your ears. Words are easily spoken, find out about their actions. If you find a dealer you like, then you send the pipes and wait for the dealer to contact you. Send the pipes with tracking and insurance!!!! Once the dealer has the pipes and tells you what they are willing to pay, you can accept, reject, or haggle a better pay out. If you reject their offer, you will be paying for the return shipping.

Are the pipes collectable and highly sought after? Every pipe is “collectable” to someone. That does not mean it has great value. Highly sought after usually commands more attention and thus a higher dollar value. Again, you need to do some research. If you have no idea, ask someone that does know. Use Goggle!

How many pipes will you be sending? Now we get into the real meat and variable.
Depending on which avenue you select will have an influence on how many pipes you will send at any one time.

If you’re going to utilize the services of a consignment dealer, I suggest you never send more than a dozen pipes at a time, and I’d really suggest sending only six at a time. Once the first six are sold and you get paid out, send the next six. Why so few at a time?

If the seller does not pay you out, you have lost the cash for six pipes. If you sent twenty or thirty pipes, well that can be a nasty pill to swallow.

If you’re going to sell a larger group to a dealer that will buy them outright, I’d suggest you send the group in a few batches. A dozen to twenty at a time. Get the value agreed upon and once you are paid, send the next batch. This gives you some protection and keeps the shipping costs down. Shipping insurance can be a painful bill.

Now that you’re thoroughly confused on which avenue to take maybe I can lessen that problem with a checklist to go through, if you’re not selling the pipes yourself.

1 – does the dealer have a good reputation?
2 – how long have they been operating or are they brand new and only on Instagram?
3 – what fee percentage does the consignment dealer charge?
4 – what payout percentage does the dealer that buys the whole collection pay?
5 – will the dealer that buys the whole lot allow me to use the payout for goods they have in stock?
6 – do they have a website and how often is it updated?
7 – have any of my friends dealt with the person before?
8 – if I search the pipe forums does their name come up in a good way or not?
9 – when I emailed did, they reply quickly?
10 – when I phoned did a real person answer the phone?

Now that you have read the above and watched Federico’s video you have a better understanding of the whole process and pitfalls. I cannot suggest which avenue you should follow nor who you may wish to deal with. As far as the avenue, only you know what you need. As far as whom? If I mention anyone, it may cast shadows on those I do not mention and no matter how great a dealer is, there will always be a few clients that were not pleased with the transactions.