The Timonium Hamfest Report, 2010 edition
So yesterday was the Timonium Hamfest, and I did something there I don't normally do - I sold stuff. Specifically, around $875 worth of stuff. Keep in mind that that figure is gross income, and some of the stuff I sold I had quite a bit of money into, including two PC's that I paid around $90 each for. Still, I now have a bit more stuff in my basement, and a bit more money in my pocket, so that's a win.
In previous years, I've avoided selling, instead wandering around - because it's so big, it takes a few hours to really look at everything, and I've usually found at least 1 or two thins I could eBay for a profit. But, this year I had quite a bit of stuff cluttering up my basement, thanks in part to the financial crisis - I bought a bunch of computer cleaning stuff from a mortgage brokerage bankruptcy auction back in October in central PA, and a bunch of PC's from a failed bank in Baltimore earlier this month. Since finding eBayable stuff is always a crapshoot, I figured I'd sell.
Obviously, I did OK financially. The big question is if it will cut into my sales later this year - if I just sold stuff to the same people who I would have sold it to later at the smaller, later hamfests I normally sell at. It also depends if I'm able to find new inventory to sell - if so, then it was a win because I'll have more room for new stuff, but if I don't then I won't have much to sell - OK, make that much good stuff to sell, because I've got so much crap in my basement that I can easily fill the truck.
I also met a guy who asked me if I was Anthony, and then said he knew me through this blog - and wasn't this the one hamfest I don't normally sell at? So evidently people I don't know actually read my blog. Sweet!
I've joked that one thing about Hamfests is that it's often easier to sell completely useless junk than stuff that's actually good. I had 4 Dell Optiplex core 2 duos for sale- mostly 2.13's that I priced at $175 - complete minus hard drive. I saw one sell on eBay for that, plus a giant shipping charge, so I figured it was a good starting price and that people would haggle me down to $150 or so. Throw in a $50 hard drive, and you've got a machine that will do pretty much anything for the next couple years. But I had a bunch of people look at them and tell me they were too expensive (including 1 guy who said it like 10 times). I invited people to make me an offer, but they never did. The thing is that I'm not going to price stuff cheap, because people at a hamfest will always haggle, so I build that into the price of anything that's over a couple bucks.
The other guy who annoyed me was one who was haggling over an item, and then told me he wasn't going to pay more for it because he's been burned at hamfests before. Now, I understand the logic - I've bought stuff once or twice that hasn't worked. Also, while I'm a regular fixture at most local fests, I haven't sold at Timonium before, so he has no reason to trust me. Still, most hamfest sellers are honest, and while it's certainly good to build the possibility that something might not work into the price you are willing to pay, I think it's rude to tell that to someone. I'm not going to knowingly sell something that doesn't work as working - not just because I'm such a nice guy, but because I want to keep selling at future 'fests, and that means having customers who are willing to buy from me more than once. I have a couple customers who usually seek me out and buy a bunch of stuff from me because they've had good experiences in the past, and I've had a number of customers - including one guy I sold a monitor to who insisted on getting my phone number in case it didn't work - who have come back at later fests and told me how happy they were with what they bought.
I packed it in around noon - I'd sold a bunch of stuff, had been there since just after 4, and wanted to get the truck unpacked and take a nap before I drove to a concert in Northern VA. While I was packing, I heard a couple people say stuff like "why's he packing up now? he's making a big mistake. I just got here!" Well, I didn't, and I've sold at enough fests to know that I don't usually make a lot of sales in the last few hours. Standing outside for hours in cold weather isn't the most fun, and I have other things to. If you want the best selection, come early - this is more hobby than business to me, so I'm only willing to put so much effort into it.
I only bought two things - a $10 Kodak digital camera and a $1 D-Link gaming adapter. Both were missing the power supply. Don't know if I missed out on any good eBay fodder, but I told some coworkers who were there to keep an eye out on some of the stuff I normally look for, so my guess is probably not.
Will I sell next year? Probably, as long as I have stuff to sell. I would do a few things differently, though. I got there a little after 4am this year, which was far earlier than I needed to - most tailgaters weren't there until 5:30 or later. I would also seriously consider springing for an indoor space - while the weather cooperated, it was freezing cold to the point I had trouble talking because my face was so cold. Since the indoors don't open until 8, that would also let me scope out the tailgaters for a while before I start selling (and scope out the other indoor sellers since I'd have access...).