As a collector, I'm always on the look out for Pony items to add to my collection. I typically search Ebay, check the sales forums on the various collector boards, and do an occasional run to the local thrift store. I've also gone the Craig's List route once and don't have a desire to go down that road again (If you're curious, I did write about that very strange experience.) Plus, for the newly released items I do my weekly round to all the Big Box stores in my area. --I don't think I've been in a Wal-Mart or Target and didn't check the toy aisle since 2003.
My collection is pretty filled out and I find it difficult to find things I'm missing. Plus, what I am after is generally either harder to find or some random accessory and I unusually have to turn to another collector to buy. Which leads me to my topic for today: Pony flipping.
To those who might be unfamiliar with this term, it basically refers to someone who buys Ponies or accessories in "lots" on Ebay and will then split them off piece by piece to turn a profit. Or it could mean someone who takes advantage of a high demand/ low supply situation in the market (an example of this would be the recent TRU Collector Collection with Nightmare Moon where the retail price was $40, yet you could easily resell the set for upwards of $80 overnight.)
There seem to be two camps on the issue of Pony flipping. Those who say it is A-Okay and those who think that turning a profit off of other collectors is to be frowned upon.
If you've followed my blog for long, you may remember my post about my Goodwill Pony ordeal. I managed to find a beautiful TE Mimic for practically pennies and I ended up sending her to a pony friend as a surprise package to cheer her up since she was going through a rough patch. Now before you pat me on the back and tell me what a generous person I am, you should know that this was the 4th Mimic I had found for under $2 from either a thrift shop, flea market, or yard sale. One joined my personal collection and the other two were sold to fellow collectors through the message boards by taking offers. I ended up making quite a nice profit from the sales and reinvested that money into purchasing more items for my collection.
I know other collectors who frequently buy up large accessory lots or pony lots for a single accessory or pony and then sell off the extra pieces for a profit to cover their own collecting purchases. Personally, I'm grateful to these sellers because I don't typically have the time to sell off items I don't need in a large lot. I'd rather purchase the one item I need individually. This might mean paying premium price, but to me, the time saved is more than worth the money saved.
I've frequently offered to buy hard to find pony sets that I've found locally to other collectors that might not have the product in their market for cost. I look at it as "paying it forward" since I've often needed items from overseas markets and fellow collectors have graciously offered to help me out. I'm more than happy to do this on the collector message boards.
Ebay, in my opinion, is a whole other playing field. The open market dictates the price of the product and I've been on both sides as a buyer and as a seller. As a seller, it is always wonderful to make a sale that is above and beyond retail price and turn a nice profit, but as a buyer you are always lamenting the soaring prices on items that you want to purchase but can't find in your area. I look at it as a type of tilting scale in the collecting world. You win some and you loose some (money) where collectibles are concerned.
In my opinion, I don't see a problem with Pony flipping as long as collectors are involved. Where it gets kind of muddy is when non collectors jump in the market to make a quick buck and then disappear. It happens. I understand why it happens, but it doesn't mean I have to like it.
What are your thoughts on Pony flipping? Have you ever done it?