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To Sell or Not to Sell Collectibles

As we watch the pandemic unfold and move into the new normal, we can look back to being locked down in our homes. Even at AWMI, we were working from home and finding extra projects to occupy our time. Much like all of you, I found it a good time to get organized. I cleaned out my closets, the crawl space, the garage – you know, those spaces full of interesting and not-so-interesting things that take time to sort through. While doing so, I realized it might also be a good time to gather information on my collectibles, like my treasured Barbie doll collection, as part of my investment plan. Yes, a Barbie doll collection, which I always say is part of my retirement savings. At AWMI, we recognize that retirement assets can include all kinds of diversified investments, not just the kinds we manage.

First and foremost, I needed to document my Barbie dolls with pictures and descriptions. We all have things we have saved with the idea of holding a value – dolls, comic books, albums, small cars. The best way to document a collection is to write a title and description, along with information on the condition of the piece. Display the items using a simple background and using as much light as possible. Then, take lots of photos, and be sure to show any branding.

Second, going back to my Barbie doll collection, as with any collectible, we need to answer a few questions to determine where to sell them.

  • Are they valuable? Is there readily available online prices or do you need to find (and maybe pay) an expert to establish the value.
  • What is the condition of your collectible? Has it been used? How much?
  • Will your collection be a legacy gift or a current investment value?

Having a collection in ‘mint’ condition will yield a better value. For example, I have the original boxes, and most of mine have never been opened. Although, gently used collectibles can catch a fair price, too.

Third, I researched selling platforms and ways to get the best audience for my collection. Here are a few tips for you on various sales venues.

  • Auction House – there are different types of auction houses, but most operate the same. You can auction your collection alone or in a group of things. Potential buyers sign in, get a number, and ‘bid’ on items that have a set minimum bid, which is the price at which an item can be sold. If the final bid does not reach the minimum bid, the item remains unsold. If you plan to use an auction house, be aware that they will take a commission on the total package.
  • Consignment Shops-If you plan to use a local consignment shop, you may want to visit them to see how busy the shop generally is and how they display merchandise. Here, you give your collection to the shop, and they will display it for you, and if it sells, you get a portion of the sales, and they keep an administrative fee. Sort of like a commission, but different.
  • Online Sales – Listing items on Amazon, Craigslist, eBay, Poshmark, and Mercari, to name a few, can attract millions of potential buyers, but you will need to find the right fit to draw potential buyers to your merchandise. If this is the best option, use the helpful tutorials that explain the steps to selling on their sites and the fees.
  • Garage/yard Sales-These types of sales can take up a lot of time, but you don’t have to pay anyone commission. However, you often get lower prices than if online or in a store.

These are just a few places to sell collectibles. Of course, you will make the most money by matching your collectibles with the best place to sell them.

If you haven’t yet talked with your advisor about your valuable collection, maybe now is the time. We love having conversations with our clients on their unique hobbies and any value contained. We are here to help you understand how these collectables might fit in your planning and help you make an informed decision about how to sell or pass them on.

Cally Eberhardt
Operations Specialist



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