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Niche Markets and the Value of Emotion

There are thousands of niche markets in the field of antiques and collectible and they are easy to miss. You have to be open to the trends. When I started selling the castoff relics of fading eras it was because, let’s face it, being a paralegal was both boring and highly stressful. I don’t know how something could be both things at once, but it’s true. Sorry if you are a paralegal and loving, it more power to ya! The biggest surprise at the start was the power of nostalgia in creating niche markets.

Old stuff is not infused with some mystical aura that grows on it as time passes while waiting unseen in the dark recesses of forgotten memory. That’s mold your thinking off. I’m thinking of another kind of green. Minty green as in paper. One of the keys to understanding value is the emotion we attach to the past and the artifacts that are a part of experience. We like to stay linked to childhood or to the prosperous times in our lives.

Priceless memories.

One of the biggest collectible categories is toys. Who doesn’t remember their favorite teddy bear, doll, toy soldier, cap gun, or model airplane? We loved these things. They were sent from Santa, our parents, weird uncle Bob, or our favorite Grandma. Sixty-five years ago America’s industrial might produced the tools for a world at war to subdue history’s worst tyrants and then went right back to making Lionel trains and inventing Barbie.

1950’s kid oriented TV shows on local stations might seem like the most forgettable bit of history ever experienced by mortal children. However, I have never failed to sell an old photo, button, toy premium or whatever of Sally Starr or Chief Halftown. In case you don’t know them they had shows on a Philadelphia television station and are remembered today by people all over the country. Most of the items I sold about these two were purchased by people in states other than Pennsylvania.

One of the most reliable markets I had back in the beginning of eBay’s rise to prominence was the slide rule. It’s not hard to find a person now a days who has no clue what they are or how they were used. The calculator followed by the personal computer made them obsolete in a short period of time. Generations of engineers built airplanes, skyscrapers, bridges and highways. Scientists split the atom, discovered DNA and invented the microwave oven. These men and women who passed through the analog age via the digital revolution frequently did the same thing with their formerly valuable calculating tool. They stuck it in a drawer.

Not all archeology is done in desert sands or steaming jungles. Sifting through the layers of a person’s life at an estate sale can unearth much that is mundane. It takes a combination of experience and intuition to discover a good niche market. They are often made up of quite ordinary things. Was your teddy bear bear ordinary to you? What is the value of emotion? Connect with peoples pasts and you may find the way to their hearts.

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