Hello, and welcome! I have had so many doll sellers contact me regarding my other two doll guides with nice notes saying they took away some good ideas and asking questions which I always try to answer. I thought now may be the time for part three since I've collected a variety of questions which perhaps since repeated by different sellers or perspective sellers most often, should addressed in guide form. I do though, love the personal comments. All have been so positive. Believe me when I say I am grateful for that. I've been a doll lover and collector all my life. I am surrounded by my first passion, bride dolls. My house has become a minnie bridal shop LOL, and if you knew my hubby, you'd laugh too. I'm a girly girl and he is a cowboy through and through. He's often referred to us as a couple saying, "beauty and the beast". I THINK I've convinced him after 24 years he isn't a beast at all, he's just a very accomplished outdoorsy horseman, having done uncountable weddings with horses and carriages over the years. In fact, he is so accomplished that people have sent him their horses from pretty much all surrounding states and of course from within our own state and community for training. He is a well respected trainer of driving horses. Strictly yet lovingly, each of the horses have been as expertly trained to be as wonderful as his own have always been. This past week, he once again took first place at our county fair in the pleasure driving class. Why not? He really DOES know what he's doing and he's been doing it for his entire life! Like me, he has had a passion for his whole life. I accept his passion for horses; he accepts mine for dolls.How cool is that?
More to the point, my dolls, for the most part, are brides. This stems from and unforgettable Christmas morning when I was four years old. I'd been shopping with my mother and grandmother in a high end department store and spotted the most magnificent beautiful thing my four year old eyes had ever seen. A bride doll! I actually remember standing there, gazing up at her. As I did, it seemed that everyone and everything else just melted away and it was just me and her. Though at the time, on that memorable Christmas morning, I had no idea Santa could possibly know of this doll of dolls. As Mom carried me down the staircase, Dad took a photo of the look on my face when that exact doll was the first thing I saw beneath the tree. The photo is hilarious. All mouth, agape, and huge eyes. If Mom hadn't been holding me, I'd likely not have recognized myself in the photo when I was older. I just could not believe my eyes!
I was almost afraid to approach her; this vision in white. I think my little mind thought she was imaginary and would disappear if I came too close. When Mom and Dad and my Grandparents who lived just next door (I was an only child and grandchild) told me to pick her up, I started to cry. Can you imagine a little kid crying with happiness? I mean crying over a piece of jewelry like an engagement ring or other sentimental object seems natural for an adult, but for a child living a privileged childhood, to cry over a doll was hilarious. They would later tell me three of them had to bite their cheeks to keep from laughing but my beloved grandfather had to leave the room. He got really choked up at my reaction. I was the apple of his eye to begin with. I often accompanied my grandpa on short business trips. I adored him and the feeling was mutual and though he's been gone 32 years, I KNOW he still loves me as much as I still love him. On those trips, I always came home toting a new doll which Grandpa and I had named together. They weren't always brides, most were babies/toddlers, some fashion, but always a doll. I said earlier I was an only child and grandchild and that I had a privileged childhood, but please believe me when I say, my upbringing was to be kind, humble, giving and loving. I was not a spoiled brat EVER. If anything, I went overboard to ensure everyone knew that. But I digress.
So, now you know my story, and maybe understand a bit why dolls are such a passion of mine and always will be, even though I now have a great granddaughter who is already a year older than I was that memorable Christmas. My two adult married daughters have five girls between them, and one boy. My older granddaughter is married with a five year old daughter, a mini me, and a one year old son. I adore them all. Only a few of the girls are in to dolls, but that beats not having any of them sharing my love and passion at all.
Some questions I'm asked most often are regarding whether to sell dolls in "lots" or individually. My advice; if you have a complete collection/set of a certain story or season or style of doll, thus a complete collection, selling them together can be profitable. Keep the shipping fair, and be sure to describe all of them in as much detail as possible. Tell the story behind them if you have one, and please don't say, "photos say it all." No they don't. I promise you they don't. Describe them as though you were talking about them to someone who can't see them at all. Don't leave ANYTHING out. Let your potential buyer know exactly what they can expect when the package arrives (and if they do buy, wow them with the presentation when it arrives). Photos from different angles are important, but don't put them up if they are sideways or upside down. Always have them upright in layout. Avoid using terms like, NIB (new in box) if the dolls are not new as in just recently purchased from a store. A doll or dolls from a past year or years, are not NEW. It is better to say they are almost like new in boxes, than to say they are new.
"Mint" or "minty" are used quite a bit in descriptions. Look, lets be real here, no doll of any vintage be it 10 or 60 years is "mint" or "minty". No matter HOW well you've stored and preserved them, there will be natural aging to fabric, hair, accessories, boxes and other included amenities. Rather than "mint" or "minty" I'd much rather have a seller tell me the doll or dolls are in very good condition considering their age (tell me specifics) and have been well cared for (tell me exactly how). If you have a few dolls of a series, you may be better off listing them individually. Collectors may be attempting to complete their own collections and do not need all of the dolls you have in an incomplete set. Make sense?
Another question I'm often asked is, "Should I use an auction or buy it now format?" My advice here; do a little homework. Look for similar dolls already listed. See how long it's been for sale or up for auction. If auctioning, how many bids have been placed? How much is the starting price in contrast to how long it's been listed and how much past the opening bid the doll is now fetching? Also, in an auction, find out about reserve pricing. Reserves mean that no matter how many bids or how much the bids are for, if they don't meet a certain level, the item won't be sold. I personally don't like that practice. I usually move past reserve priced auctions and check out the buy it now offerings with an opportunity to make an offer. That way, I can make a fair offer and the seller can choose to accept it or not. Even if all offers are not accepted and the doll doesn't sell, many times, a seller would rather send a second chance offer to a buyer than relist the doll. Those with reserves that don't sell, are often a waste of the seller's time and money. If no one breaks through the reserve price, they probably won't be back even though the doll will be relisted at a lower price sometimes still with a reserve, and the whole dance starts again. So reserves aren't my preference. As to which format is best, that's up to you. If you need to sell quickly, then buy it now with a make and offer feature may be best. If you are in no hurry, a fair auction with no reserve may be the answer. Either way, you need to be in the ball park with other sellers of similar dolls both in pricing and in shipping. I'll talk more about that later. AND you can make yourself stand out above the rest. I'll tell you how later in this guide.
Another often asked question is, "How do you set an opening bid or buy it now price?" Again, please check for similar dolls or a similar doll offered by someone with a good history selling dolls. Be vigilant in your homework. Sometimes a seller may have a perfect record after thousands of sales, BUT, this may be their first time selling a doll. That seller may have no idea of what he or she actually has. I honestly don't know where some of these sellers get their prices. Some are so high I find myself shaking my head, yet many times they are so low, I can't believe that the doll is what they say it is. Of course a crafty buyer can take advantage of an inexperienced doll seller who is not knowledgable regarding price, but usually you pretty much get what you pay for. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between. Some sellers obviously set their prices based on better known doll makers by checking their "worth" in a book. Sometimes they even tell you which book, which page and the quoted worth. This is a double edged sword.
Because an "expert" doll appraiser says a doll is worth a certain amount does not the selling price make! There are many other factors to consider. These books usually talk about the condition of the doll and what comes with it. Conditoin of a doll can be subjective so using book pricing as your pricing isn't realistic. Remember too, because something is technically worth a certain price, there are other factors to consider. If a doll is absolutely without question worth a price, realize that a buyer won't necessarily pay all it's worth. A buyer may want to buy a doll but they will only pay a fair portion of the "worth". Say you're selling a car. You can check the blue book for the car's value, but you won't sell it or trade it for that. We all know it. The buyer wants some of that "worth" too. It's fair, and it makes sense. Sometimes it appears a doll sellers as with other sellers, just pick a price out of thin air. Belive me when I say, some of them do exactly that. I have seen little 7" to 9" 50's era dime store dolls (there are an abundance of them still around) in square boxes with celo lids, skirts fanned out around them, starting as high as fifty dollars or more. Ah, sorry folks, doll collectors know they can be had for much less.
This is why my guides are FOR sellers from a BUYER'S point of view. I am not going to pay you the doll's "worth", that would be silly! I deserve to have the doll worth something when I buy it, and I am not going to fall for words like, hard to find (htf) Mint in box (MIB) or New in Box (NIB) when the doll isn't brand new or when I see the same doll offered for huge differences in pricing from several sellers. If your doll is really htf, tell me why. One example of a htf, or hard to find, or even rare, would be a doll that is from a well known manufacturer or artist, is ond of a very limited edition and has the certificate of authenticity along with a matching numbers ON the doll itself, and has a the lower number of the numbers made. I have a beautiful doll. She is almost four feet high; a porcelain bride, which has a verified number one of a limited edition of only 1000 on her and her papers. I own another which is hand carved wood, beautiful bride clothing, rare because the well know artist responsible for this particular edition no longer works for this company, and my doll is number 21 of only 750 in the world! I knew I was getting a good deal, and the seller made an almost immediate sale while gaining a fair and reasonable profit.
Doll collectors are set in their ways, the true ones anyway, and they usually stick quite closely to just one or a very few types of dolls. They search for them every day or at least quite often. When deciding to bid or buy your doll, they take a few other things into consideration. Have you covered everything in your description? Are your photos easy to see and do they show the doll from different angles? Is the doll who the seller says it is? Nancy Ann story book dolls are so often confused with the cheaper story book dolls mentioned above where I say "dime store". There is a very specific way to tell the difference and collectors know exactly what a Nancy Ann story book doll should look like. You won't fool them. Even if you've said, "Nancy Ann like" in your description, you'll likely not make the sale. It is far better to say "...older (or vintage) celo doll from a story book series." than to say, "Nancy Ann like doll." If you're in the market for a BMW and you visit a dealer who has recenty taken a Chevy in trade, is it ever touted as BMW LIKE ? NO WAY!
And so importantly that I just can't stress this enough. DO NOT fall into the practice of offering dolls that should be fairly expensive for a very low price but using extraordinarily high shipping to get your desired price. This is a gimmick we're all wise to. No true doll collector will fall for that one. If you charge shipping, only charge the exact cost to YOU. You may include boxes and wrapping you had to purchase to ship as well as actual postage etc, but don't try to fool us with a doll costing a penny and shipping being thirty five dollars. We'll laugh as we pass by. I promise you that. Another practice I find disturbing is offering a doll at a very high price tag while the doll is still available from the original site i.e. Paradise Galleries or Danburry Mint. If the doll you are selling can be purchsed from it's origin at a lower price or even the same price as your listing, sometimes while accepting monthly payments and offering free shipping, why on earth would they buy yours? Check the manufacturer or selling sites first before you presume your doll is htf or rare. This happens with Princess Kate all the time. It's ridiculous. Don't do that, OK? Please?
Your sold doll should be shipped as if it's the only one in the world and millions of people would love to have her (or him). By that, I mean presentation. If you are lucky enough to have sold a doll complete with paperwork, hang tags, original box and anything else that accompanied her when you became the owner, remember how thrilled you were when you opened that box and for a moment, it took your breath away. You buyer deserves that same feeling when opening the box in which you ship her. Present her as if a gift! Make sure that she is well protected, that every possible precaution for her safety is considered. Make sure to use white tissue if you are using a generic box, not the original shipper and inside box. Wrap her gently. The buyer should not have to chance damaging the doll's hair or clothing trying to unwrap a doll smothered in fifteen feet of bubble wrap secured by another fifteen feet of duct tape. I know it sounds funny, but I can't tell you how many times I've had that experience. Also, PLEASE don't use old news paper to wrap your doll. The ink comes off the paper onto your hands, so you know that it can transfer to the doll or clothing. Here is my rule of thumb, avoid using anything in which to wrap your doll that you would possibly use to wrap your trash. If you ship her like she's trash, she will be thought of as trash no matter how nice she really is and you may be unhappy with your feedback wondering why.
Speaking of feedback, always leave timely feedback for your buyers. SAY THANK YOU. You were taught that as a kid. Invite your buyer to come back. And one last thing, no matter what you take from this guide, do NOT, and I sincerely mean this, DO NOT begin your description with your own Ten Commandments. Sometimes sellers like buyers have been burned. Then if it happens more than once, sellers get skittish and start their descriptions with a laundry list of DO NOT's. Even the REAL Ten commandments didn't start with negatives, they started with DO's. You can surely put a foot note regarding your wishes, but make it toward the end of the description. The first few lines of your description is your ONE chance to market your product and sell it. Keep it positive and welcoming. If you MUST add DO NOT'S then please find a positive way to word them and explain why it was necessary to do so. People WILL understand if they already LIKE you and they will LIKE you if your description is a reflection of how nice you are, how much you love what you are doing, how welcome the browser of your product feels, how well you've cared to tell a buyer what they will receive and they will be much more understanding of DO NOT's. If a prospective buyer asks you a question, even if you already answered it in the description, thank them for their interest, and just tell them again. Don't shame them by saying it's in your description just thank them for their question and answer it. Make a new friend. Put your best foot forward. No matter what you are selling, YOU are the most important product. Buyers will even pay a little more to you if you are gracious, confident, kind and your description is complete.
Ship the item ASAP! Send the buyer a personal note of thanks. Let them know when you've shipped. If there is a shipping lag for very good reason, write your buyer immediately explaining what has happened, express your apologies, and tell them when it will be shipped. That will get you two stars right there, fast shipping and good communication. The rest should make you a five star seller by knowing about what you are selling, a fair price, a good description and of course, FOLLOW UP! Maybe little note, maybe a card tucked into the shipping box or email is fantastic! Then in a few weeks, check back. You may find yourself getting more sales because you're memorable! They may check your offerings again! Common courtesy taken to the next level will ALWAYS put you head an shoulders above the compteition. Good luck, happy selling and God bless!