Before This Week's Scheduled Post: My Answer
So, I have had no choice but to leave after 3 years. What it means to me though is a scary foray into uncharted territory: trying to re-build a business with my existing customer base at a time when most of my capital has already been spent. Needless to say it is stressful, and because I spend 12-16 hours a day in my office, by myself, 5 days a week, it is very easy for me to experience mood swings and negativity. It was this negativity that was the genesis of my weekend post.
I shared this post with all my major Facebook groups. Together these groups comprise well over 30,000 collectors. I had hoped for some useful insights. I was surprised at what came back, both pleasantly and unpleasantly.
On the pleasant side, I had an outpouring of support from my loyal customers. All of these people were dismayed at the idea of me giving up. Some did suggest that I might have to consider being a part-time dealer, but each and every one of them affirmed what I do and validated my approach to stamp dealing, saying that they enjoy dealing with me, that the service I provide is impeccable, etc. I even had one very kind man over Facebook - a man that I have never done business with before, praise my approach to my business and tell me that he would buy from me if and when he begins collecting Canada. This outpouring was more than enough to talk me off the ledge and get me back to work, and for that I am deeply thankful regardless of how this all turns out for me.
On the negative side, I encountered several comments from other collectors who were not so postitive:
- One person used the comment thread to basically make it all about him, telling me who he bought from, what he collected, how the hobby is in decline and the exchange ended with him posting what I gather is his favourite stamp.
- Another went on and on about how the hobby was in decline and how I just couldn't compete against large sites like Delcampe and E-bay. He didn't seem to realize that these sites are simply collections of individual sellers, but he smugly asserted that values such as honesty, service and professionalism just don't count anymore and the only thing that really matters is price. He wasn't saying this in a way that shows he thinks it is bad - he thinks it is good because it serves him.
- A few more people basically chimed in that dealers cannot compete with the prices on E-bay.
- Another person didn't comment on the post, but took me to task about the fact that an auction of 83 of my best stamps that I posted on E-bay on Thursday last week, got taken down by me on Sunday after I noticed not a single bid on any lot. He said that he didn't see any auction items only buy it now. I replied politely and explained why. His next comment was "Ya, I've looked at some of your items and I use them for postage". So, he was basically insinuating that I am overpriced, and that what I provide to collectors is worthless to him. But he didn't make that comment privately, he made it publicly. The overall tone of his remarks implied that it was somehow wrong of me to take those auctions down. I politely called him out on it. He played the victim - responded with teary eyed emoticons saying that he didn't mean anything by his remarks and was just making an observation, and then followed it up with "Wow what a great way to win new customers!"