An interesting question came up on the @SoxSignatures Twitter feed the other day, and after trying to respond in 140 characters, I realized that it was actually a really good topic for a blog post! First off, the tweet above is from Mr Robert Rutledge (@Moose_117).
As I thought about how to answer this, I realized that perhaps the #1 reason for why my business growth is inconsistent, is that the biggest issue with any memorabilia dealer is trust. The way’s I’ve tried to gain trust are by including a Certificate of Authenticity with my items, trying to show as many photos as possible of my signings with players, and even introducing myself to fellow collectors and dealers at any opportunity I get. Sometimes having the lowest prices around, means people will ask the question “What’s wrong with it?”. So what is “wrong” with my items? The answer is that my items don’t come with a universally trusted name like Steiner, TriStar, PSA/DNA, JSA, or other well known companies. Those brand names mean trust, they will charge you for that trust, and being a 1.5 year old business means that it’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of time to get that kind of brand name trust for Sox Signatures.
But the question still remains, how do you run a business selling items for $40 when your competitor sells a similar item for $80 (or $200 in some cases). The easy answer, is that as a one person side business, overhead costs basically don’t exist for me. I have no salary, no employees, no storage costs. I started Sox Signatures because I wanted to find
a way to supplement my own collection with the other autographs I had. When I do a memorabilia deal with a player, I’m not looking to break the bank. I’m looking to pay a player X dollars for 5 bats, keep 1 for my own collection, and sell the other 4 to make up that initial X dollar investment. I’m not in this business to quit my day job as a software engineer, I’m looking to take a hobby that I have spent thousands of dollars on, and make back just enough so that my wife doesn’t kill me!
My business model, is to provide people who don’t have the time or means themselves, to add quality, low-priced, and unique items to their collection. I’m not out to squeeze every last penny from my customers or make huge profits. Any business major or financial advisor would call that crazy, but in the end I’m not a CEO, I’m just a collector with a few lucky connections trying to get some cool stuff to hang on my walls.
Have more questions about my pricing? Were you going to buy something but backed out because the price seemed too good to be true? Post about it in the comments and I’ll be sure to get back to you!