TORONTO — When Mark Wlodarski started collecting bobbleheads about a decade ago, dollar signs were far from his mind.
The Toronto Blue Jays, whose bobbleheads he coveted most, Wlodarski says were “just horrid” and their merchandise were hardly desirable.
That changed around 2015. The Jays shot up in the standings, bolstered by newcomers Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki, who came with bobbleheads that attracted droves of collectors.
The shift taught Wlodarski — the owner of about 650 bobbleheads at his collecting peak, who insists his love of the figurines is about passion not profit — plenty about how to master the collectibles market.
The market can be fraught with high price tags and even higher emotions, but experts say there are tens of thousands of dollars to be to made, if you’re willing to part with high-value items like baseball cards, comics, coins, stamps and vintage film posters.
They say maximizing what can be made or nabbing an item for as little as possible can be tough because it takes a mix of timing and luck.
The trick to making money off collectibles, Wlodarski said, is learning how to assess a market.
“You have to know when it’s time to get into any hobby, and get out of any hobby,” he said.
To do that, Wlodarski keeps an eye on how teams are performing and how popular characters and other celebrities are. If a team is headed for the playoffs or a television show, movie or character are really taking off, collectibles tied to them are worth more and it’s a good time to sell, but a terrible time to buy. When that popularity is waning, there are generally better deals to be found, but if you’re selling, less money to be made.
Bobbleheads given away recently at sports games or events will be plentiful and won’t command much cash, but ones from older seasons, when few were made, can be worth a pretty penny, he said.
Not everything will increase in value over time though, said Stephen Ranger, the vice-president of auction and appraisal business Waddington’s.
“The things your mother and your grandmother collected are not always the things that have sustained market value,” he said. “Our tastes have changed. It would be rare to find a 30-year-old who is interested in Royal Doulton figurines.”
Ranger said fine wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy are proving to be quite valuable as is art from Canadian modernists including Jack Bush, Harold Town and Claude Tousignant.
Other experts say many Beanie Babies, a hit with kids in the 1990s, aren’t just tiny in size, but also now in value. Many also say old-fashioned ceramics can be hit-or-miss too.
If there’s an item you’re keen on nabbing, Wlodarski said it’s imperative to have a budget “or else you could go broke obtaining it.”
If you’re on the selling side, Kent Sikstrom, Kijiji Canada’s community relations manager, said photos taken from multiple angles and in good lighting can increase what a seller will make when advertising on online platforms. Descriptions of the collectible with information on its age, dimensions and condition help too.
Posts made on the online sales platform on or near weekends usually net more traffic because more people have time to browse on Saturday and Sunday, said Sikstrom, who collects action figures and hockey cards.
If you’re selling an entire collection, Sikstrom recommended splitting up the items into separate posts because it’s harder to find someone willing to shell out for every item you have for sale.
If it’s taking a while to sell something or you’re hesitant to post obscure collectibles for sale, he reminds, “There is always a collector for everything.”
“One person’s trash is another one’s treasure.”
Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
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