Vintage Reseller’s Notebook: Fast Nickel or Slow Dime?

This can be a controversial subject in the reselling space. Some sellers swear by the fast nickel–get items sold quickly, even if it means taking a lower price, to keep inventory moving and cash flow steady. Others would rather wait and hold onto goods if it means getting a higher price for it eventually.

I’m firmly in the slow-dime camp. Because my part-time vintage biz doesn’t need to support me I don’t have the urgency that full-time sellers face. I can wait. I know too that it often takes time for the right person to come along and find items as I don’t have a high-traffic store.

For example, a few years back I bought a vintage McCaine dock painting for $30 at a Habitat for Humanity Restore. At the time I didn’t know anything about this artist, but I loved the painting. I did some research and discovered the price range that people were willing to spend on McCaine paintings. I priced mine at $300 based on that information which took into account size, condition and image.

Later I was contacted by someone who wanted to buy it for $100. Now I could have accepted his offer and still made a profit, but I opted not to. I knew what folks were willing to pay online for similar McCaine paintings and was happy to hold onto it to achieve what I felt was its true worth. (It sold for $275 later that year.)

Now this Royal Tucson tea cup with a scarce fall motif was cute as can be but took years to sell…at least three! I had it listed for $38 with free shipping and every now and then I put it on a 10% off sale. I could have dramatically reduced the price for a quicker sale, but I kept the faith that a tea cup lover would find this and in the end it did sell for $38.

When items take a long time to sell, I do revisit them and sometimes adjust the price or am willing to entertain offers. Such was the case for this primitive brass mortar and pestle. I had bought it for under $10 and spent hours researching it. (I do believe it was antique, possibly hundreds of years old, and likely Spanish because on the design.) Initially I listed it for $120, but gradually lowered the price as the years went by. Still there was little interest in it.

Apologies for the fuzzy photo!

Eventually a collector contacted me and I realized that hanging onto it any longer was not to my advantage and we negotiated a price of $70 which still gave me a reasonable profit. (The new owner, a retired gentleman who lives just two hours away, invited me to visit him and see his collection if I am ever in the area!!)

Paid $4.99, sold for $90 plus shipping.

Obviously I love it when items sell more quickly and lots of things do. (A recent perfume bottle purchase sold in three days!) But I don’t worry if things take much, much longer–that slow-dime mentality.

I think part of that comes down to “believing” in my items. Appreciating their quality, uniqueness and/or beauty and knowing that someone else will too at the price I’ve set. And I do spend quite of bit of time, research and effort setting my prices. They are not random or capricious.

Just today I received an offer (a smidge over 20% off) on one of my more expensive items. I replied with a 10% discount as this item has only been in my store four months and has received some attention. She never bothered to respond to my counter offer. Yes, I could have sold it today, possibly, but I believe it has more money in it and is fairly priced without any discount. I am willing to take the riskier, slow-dime approach.

I think at my time of life, I prefer fewer but “better” sales. I’d rather each item bring the best profit it can–and for that I can wait. Though to be honest I do have some items that I’ve had a ridiculously long time and need to figure out a strategy for dealing with them. Like this MCM heavy class cigar ashtray. I think this has been in my store for six or seven years! It’s a handsome, quality piece, priced fairly and yet it’s lingered. Over the years I’ve lowered the price, put it on sale and no luck. I might try taking some different photos, perhaps with candy in it or Christmas baubles.

Would love to hear from you? Fast nickel or slow dime? Do you run sales? How long will you hold on to an item?

As always, happy hunting,



  1. Dear Karen, it seems that your reasoning is correct given your premises and context.

    In a position of non-dependency from the resell income, I believe it’s sensible to try and maximise the profit.

    I accept an offer from time to time, but mostly when the reduction is not significant.
    At times I gave a bit more discount on items off, because they were too bulky to keep for long.

    Updating the picture for the ashtray might make it fresher and gather interest? Buyers, and this is normal, skim over things they have seen before; an intriguing photo might attract more attention. I must say, I’m not stellar on my photos šŸ˜‰

    The thing is, between researching, photo shooting, listing etc. it takes way too much time for a decent profit, given that our items are one-off.

    I hope the holiday season approaching will bring good sales for your store šŸ™‚

    All the best x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Gabriella. Good to hear from you!

    I work with folks on price sometimes too. I was willing to take 10% off on that more expensive item even though I knew my listed price was fair and competitive, but I wasn’t willing to do 20+%, especially since it hasn’t been listed long and is getting favorited.

    And you’re right about the whole process listing one-off vintage items taking a lot of time. That’s part of the reason I’m trying to limit the number of lower-value items I put in my store. They are just not worth all the time and effort.

    My October sales were a bit sluggish, but did pick up this past week. Hope you have good sales for this holiday season too!



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