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Technical The State of the Union: How to Price Parts in This Crazy Economy; a Moral Dilemma

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by crazycasey, Nov 5, 2022.

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  1. I used to be a scavenger; I am still, but I really used to be. In fact, I recently left my corporate gig and I’m sort of trying to reinvent myself. So I’m going back to what I know. Swap meets, estate sales, and junk yards. Digging, bartering, early mornings, and long drives. Anyway…

    I recently came across an exceedingly rare Eddie Edmunds part. It’s in excellent condition, and in fact it looks to be NOS. In trying to do research on where to price this piece, you look at what they’ve sold for in the past, and what comparable parts have sold for (hopefully more recently). The last record I could find of this particular piece selling, was for $400 back in 2007, and everybody on the HAMB said it was WAY too expensive. :) At that time a brand new similar part still being produced by Offy could be had for only $130.

    Well, now that same brand new Offy part is $300-$325, and other generic parts, probably cast in China, are anywhere from $300-400. I mean, the world is all screwed up. Also, in 2007 I could fill my van up for less than $100, but now it costs me $200. Maybe some day UNICEF will get into the junkyard business, but until that day…anyway…

    So, I hope you guys can appreciate the moral dilemma side of this thing. I’m being a bit facetious, but, this stuff kind of bugs me too. I mean, I don’t want to be an A-hole. But I DO want to get what I can get, too; I’ve got mouths to feed.

    I’d really like to start a discussion, and get some feedback from the community on what inflation is doing to used parts prices, and the second hand parts market as a whole. Just because I’ve been out of the loop for a long time, and this place has always held a great sense of community for me.

    Hope everyone is well. Back to the hunt…



    Also, I’d like to say thank you to @Moriarity for helping me to construct this post properly, and for putting up with my often sardonic whit. I appreciate it. Sorry if I came off a bit bristly.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2022
  2. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 4,205


    Supply and demand set the prices for everything we buy. You can always come down but you can't go up. Do your homework, price it like you think you should and go from there.
  3. It's pretty simple, really. Do your research, then set your price at the maximum for what you want, then be prepared to settle for what you need. In the end it always works out that way anyway. If you feel you've sold something too cheap, do better research next time. You said you've done this before so you do know what to do on a slow moving item.
  4. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 53,393


    I just got a few parts and put them on ebay...mostly I started high, or went with an auction, and all found buyers.

    Only one was way under priced, someone hit the buy it now immediately. Oh well. There were no comps, so I had to guess, and I guessed wrong.

    so...yeah, what they said. Price it at double what you think it's worth, and drop the price frequently if it doesn't sell.

  5. It looks like you are trying to make a living peddling parts. Price your stuff likewise and let the chips fall where they may. If someone wants it and pays your price that is on them.
  6. 327Eric
    Joined: May 9, 2008
    Posts: 1,972


    Price it for what you want. The market will dictate what it sells for. I bought a set 0f 69 Corvette, N.O.S. side pies covers at an estate sale. The world(internet community) said they were worth 2500 or more. I put them on E Bay. I got one bid, and they sold for 1,000 dollars. Moral of the story is, I paid 10 dollars for them . Let it go for what it's worth. It doesn't take long to figure out who the lowballers are
    Pinstriper40 and crazycasey like this.
  7. Lol,,,,,,it always amazes me when people use the word moral when discussing money .
    Price it for what you want,,,,,,if it doesn’t sell you must be too high .
    I’m certain you will price it well above what you paid for it,,,,so it should be a good return on your money .

    Call Barrett Jackson,,,,they can probably help .

  8. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 16,736


    You mention inflation, but I think the real price pressure is coming from the fact that many of those old junkyards, swap meets, and good sources have dried up, especially going back to 2007. Sure there's still stuff out there, but it's not as common as it once was. My area in Wisconsin lost (or are in the process of losing) 5 really good junkyards just this year.

    Builders are starting with less complete cars, making once-common parts more valuable. But some things have been reproduced recently and others have fallen out of fashion, so not all prices have climbed, some have fallen.

    Hard to put a price on your mystery item without knowing what it is. But if there are no other ones currently available, you have the monopoly on them, you control the market. Start high, listen to offers and see if you get any serious buyers, lower your price over time if it doesn't sell. It's mostly a math problem, morals shouldn't really come into play.

    In the world of business, there are sheep and there are sharks. Sharks don't look back, because they don't have necks. Necks are for sheep.
  9. I like what you’ve said here. The pain of that item that sells immediately is palpable. But then again, I’ve sold things below market on purpose and gained repeat business because of it.

    If I use the inflationary example of the Offy part which has gone from $130 to $300 plus, then I’d be pricing this item at $400 x 230% ~ $900+, but there are a couple of hurdles to that logic.

    First, an oddball item is still an oddball item. Sure, eventually somebody may want it, if no one wants it now, BUT, a fast nickel is sometimes better than a slow dime.

    Second, inflation hurts because wages haven’t kept up with costs. The math of $130 for the Offy and $400 for the Edmunds can’t be directly applied to this situation, because the average buyer still has the same amount of money in his pocket. That Offy starts to look pretty attractive when the cool vintage piece is now several hundred dollars more expensive.

    Third, people do sometimes get really offended when somebody asks a crazy number for an item, and this can still be a pretty small community. Selling used parts isn’t a popularity contest, but you don’t necessarily want people thinking (and saying) that you’re a chiseler.

    Interesting feedback. Thank you! I’m stoked that this topic is generating some discussion. It’s always good to take the temperature of the room.
  10. That’s a great example. When the pair sold for $2,500 you probably had the guy who bought yours for $1,000 and another guy duking it out. I’ve seen it 100 times, when the next set of something to hit the market after one goes for CRAZY money, doesn’t bring half the price.

    At least you didn’t pay $1,500 hoping for $2,500…
  11. Good point about junkyards closing up. Funny point about sharks not having necks. I’m very pleased with all the discussion. This is exactly what I was looking for. Glad the HAMB is still a good place for a little banter and sharing of ideas related to this old stuff.
  12. If you're going to try to support your family by flipping you can throw "ethical" out of your vocabulary, along with "conscience". Take a look in the "Parts For Sale" in the "Antiquated" section here and you'll see realistic prices along with a couple of sellers who think their shit made of solid gold. I don't buy from the solid gold school of thinking, no matter how cool I think their stuff may be. Also remember that "rare" doesn't always equate to valuable (I HATE how "rare" gets tossed around as a way to suck people in).
    Your call, but I like to sleep at night and look myself in the mirror....
  13. 1biggun
    Joined: Nov 13, 2019
    Posts: 274


    Price it for what you want and see if it sells.

    Lot of conflict over a part that's meaningless to you other than what you can get for it .
  14. When I build the 261 for my 50 fleetline I collected all sorts of speed parts multiple dual and triple intakes , split exhausts , dual point and electronic distributors , valve and side covers etc etc .engines , cylinder heads oil filter canisters etc etc .

    I scoured the classifieds and swap meets and bought anything that was a good deal .

    when I sold the car , I unload all my treasures .

    I made 10-20 times more off them then what I bought them for !

    why ? I bought what I could find at a deal , when I sold I priced it accordingly. A lot of the people who came to buy where really close to getting there stuff on the road , so they simply “ Had to pay to play “

    With old parts it’s supply and demand and having the right part at the right time .

    Heck , the original Babbitt bearing 235 out of the car I sold for 500 bucks ! As it was a good running engine and buddy had a AD truck he simply wanted to get up and running . Sold the OG 3speed trans for 100 bucks for the same reason .

    I bought a bunch ( 6-7) 235’s and 261’s for a hundred bucks or less , again simply right place right time as the sellers just wanted them gone .

    Would like to know what your selling .

    good luck !
  15. Ah, see though? You’re talking about throwing morals and conscience out the window, but you’re saying you don’t buy from those guys who price their stuff like gold, BUT, maybe they’re also trying to support a family. Just food for thought…

    Also, I should say that flipping cars and parts is only, hopefully, going to be a small part of what I do for a living. I’m hoping to also do mechanic work and welding, and possibly even manufacture a small assortment of parts.
  16. olscrounger
    Joined: Feb 23, 2008
    Posts: 4,734


    It's all over the place pricewise. I can sell items on ebay for a lot more but the fees and now the tax they are gonna impose makes it questionable. $100 item may end up with $62-63. Rethinking this now myself. Sometimes just want to throw it in the trash or give it away which I have done for folks that can use the item.
  17. Here is an interesting thought. I live in a state where you pay personal property tax on vehicles, yearly as long as you own the vehicle. So here comes the moral dilemma. This year all my vehicles are a year older, in theory the personal property tax should go down as the value should go down with age (until the vehicles become collectable). Instead, the property tax went up and it was stated that it was due to the value of used vehicles being higher. No one involved with the decision had any sort of a moral problem with requiring more money at all.

    Its money and everyone seems to want some.
  18. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 22,646


    I see a spectrum with two ends:

    Making maximum profit.


    Supporting a hobby that is in its twilight years.

    You need to decide where you want to be on the spectrum.

    One can hasten the demise of the other, and it goes both ways.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2022
  19. Olscrounger! Love your handle. Yeah, well, and part of the reason I wanted to have this discussion is because it’s getting downright expensive to sell stuff online, anywhere, anymore, AND the Facebook Marketplace groups usually require you to name your price.
  20. NoelC
    Joined: Mar 21, 2018
    Posts: 668


    Then you get a job that pays a steady check, keep the job by working hard at it, watch you don't foolishly spend the earnings from it, pay attention to opportunities to learn more and advance.

    But you don't want that. You want to be a hustler.
    Thuging's the life baby.

    But I have to ask, do you not see the same guys dragging the same parts to the same venues, year after year. Magazines call it, a good selection to choose from.

    You'd think if there is that much money to be made doing it, wouldn't we all be doing it? More than we do anyways.

    But not everyone does. It seems some, me... just collect and hoard. Like money in the bank if we got a deal, but like art, to be appreciated for what it is, and how it makes you feel.

    The precious manifold. It's a currency. I'll give you that. But how many can you find to buy low, and then a buyer who's willing to pay high. The guy on the street corner, he got to watch and play all angles.

    I sure as heck do think you can make "some" money hustling parts. Just not enough money to give up a day job that's steady Eddie. But that's me and my old guy opinion.

    Not enough buyers in the world for all that's out there for parts. If more old guys had the time to waste, were tech savvy, the market would flood with stuff. Think about it, if it isn't in or on, it's a part not a something. To most it holds little value.

    I see spenders. Guys who think, I need this or that, money to burn and a foolishly big ego are the winning combination. Ebay auctions prove there are winners.

    Looking around, you seemingly have, you should have by now figured out, none are taking it with them. Even the greatest collectors on here will eventually be selling. But who is still buying? You, maybe. Me if the price is right. But to make a buck, we need to sell it to those guys.

    I say you, could be me, or them maybe. A guy who's opportunistic in his spending. Some call us low ballers but we did we need it anyways, or have we just observed a value, had our interest peaked with a possibility. Someone want to Edmundize his engine, it's got to be worth more to him, right?

    Catching up, good luck. Roll the dice and if you succeed, good on you.

    P.S. Canada is having a winter sale, our dollar is on sale, $.35 off.
  21. I’m not going to “like” your reply simply because I can’t stand this property tax on vehicles, idea. We really wanted to move to North Carolina a few years ago, and then I stumbled upon that little gem. Though in NC, they do have a maximum tax for collector cars, so beyond a certain point appreciation isn’t as big of a deal. But the cap is fairly high. My (off-topic vehicle) Mustang has appreciated quite a bit thanks to all the blood, sweat, and tears I have invested in it. I wouldn’t be able to afford to keep it in one of those states.

    Don’t get me started on that stuff…
    Tman and alanp561 like this.
  22. GOOD point, Gimpy. Good point. And one not often (enough) considered by folks who buy and sell.
  23. This reply made my day. A man who get’s it, right here. We’re all just selling our time. I’m younger than some, but old enough that I’m starting to feel it. I made some good moves and hustled really hard in my young young years, so I’m in a better place than a lot of folks. Enough so that I’m going to try and not do the soul-sucking corporate thing anymore, for a little while, anyway. We’ll see if I can hustle enough to make it work, or…am I gonna end up right back where I started again.

    I am still looking for work, that can retain more of that “work/life balance” the kids are always talking about these days. And for somebody who appreciates it, this times. Oh the stories I could tell…

    Thanks, very much, for your comment. Truly made my day.
    alanp561 likes this.
  24. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 22,646


    I keep bring it up, and I hate that I have to, but I have seen too many "piles of gold" go to a scrapper when the owner died, and they wanted all of "grandpa's junk" gone.

    It has happened often enough close by me, and with collections large enough, that it might be running neck-to-neck with governmental regulators in killing our hobby.
  25. I think my point was about the moral issue. When someone is trying to make money morals seem to go out the window. Otherwise they would go all 501C3 and give that stuff away. :D
  26. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 16,736


    The sheep and sharks thing is a Futurama reference, I guess not everyone is going to get that one.

    Anyway, keep in mind that the value of a part still bolted onto a car out in a field is not the same as a part on the internet, ready to ship at a moment's notice. There's value-added there. A 20 oz Coke is $2 at Kwik-Trip in the fridge, but I can get a warm 6 pack at the grocery store for $4, and the distributor is probably selling them for 28 cents per unit.

    Kwik-Trip isn't gouging it's customers or ignoring morality in any way, they've increased the value of the Coke by refrigerating it and making it conveniently available as a single-unit.

    You clean out someone's garage, filter out the junk and clean up the good stuff, then you sell me some 26-27 T roadster windshield stanchions over the internet for a tidy profit. The hours of labor you put into that making the parts available to the world make them more valuable, and I'm willing to pay more than you paid because I never would have found them otherwise, and you shipped them right to my door.

    Making a profit is not evil, your buyer is not getting ripped off. It shouldn't matter to them what you paid, whether you are making a mint or losing your ass doesn't change the value. And you're not ripping off the person you bought them from either, the value wasn't there until you made the parts available to the world with convenient payment and shipping options. That's worth a lot.
    lostmind, Gahrajmahal, Chris and 9 others like this.
  27. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 27,370

    Staff Member

    don't take this the wrong way, but, are you here doing market research only to sell on Facebook???
  28. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 22,646


    Much like caffeinated bacon, and baconated grapefruit.
  29. Fair points! I did miss the Futurama reference, but you may or may not have caught my Mitch Hedberg or Joe Dirt referencing in my OP.
  30. No sir. I always list hot rod and custom-related stuff here on the HAMB too, BUT, and I hate to say it, Marketplace, more and more anyway, seems to be where the stuff is actually selling.
    Tman, phat rat and das858 like this.
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