078: The Coin & Currency Expert Invades eBay – David McConaghy

David McConaghy is a Numismatist (coin expert) and owner of New England Coin Exchange. He opened his store 10 years ago with his Son Dylan who opened his own store in February. Prior to the coin business David was a co-founder of Lamina Lighting and NetSilicon which he helped take public on the Nasdaq at the height of dot com mania in 1999.

Interesting Notes

  • David has a formal degree in Electrical Engineering. He used eBay in the early days just to buy items. It is his wife who first started selling on eBay. She sold their daughter's clothes for more than what she has paid it for. That got David's attention.
  • Now, David owns 2 brick and mortar stores. He has 4 kids who are all involved in the business. Dylan, his son who opened his own store, is age 20. David's other 2 boys and a daughter work with him in his store. His kids get a certain percentage of the items they sell.
  • They are one of the largest buyers of coins of new england. They run their store six (6) days a week. They see 50-100 customers per day in each store.
  • They give classes on their stores to customers who want to learn about counterfeits.
  • They have bought over 5,000 coin collection. They do research if they are going to put those on auction. David's kids do the majority of listings on eBay. The 2 boys do 50 listings a night. Dylan does 25 listings a night in his own store.
  • They sell collectible coins or numismatist coins. They are different from other coins that are based on precious metals value. Collectors buy them because of rarity and condition.
  • David and his kids can identify the value of coins just from their experience. But, yet when someone brings them a coin, they use the same tool that they use to sell on eBay to value it. They look up similar coins that they have already sold. They compare the condition until they get into a coin that is like the one that they have. They generally pay 70-80% of what they are going to net off of eBay.
  • Some of the coins they sell are from consignment.
  • Over the years, they have built followers. They have got over 16,000 feedback. They have done a 100,000 auctions.
  • Over the years, they have built followers. They have got over 16,000 feedback. They have done a 100,000 auctions.
  • They have photo booths and all kinds of props and specialty lighting. They take great care in taking pictures. They want to make sure that people are happy with what they have purchased.
  • They practice next day shipping for all sold items.
  • They track every single thing they shipped. They also insure everything. Some are through the Post Office. For those that have higher value, they insure through a third party. Third party insurance is less expensive than that of the Post Office.
  • They have sold items on eBay up to $25,000 – $30,000.
  • They sell coins from the ancient Greek period, i.e. 300-400 B.C.
  • They have built system. After they list each item, they immediately assign the last 5 digits of the item number. They write down the codes and keep in flips or folders. In their store, they have shelves with little boxes and racks. Items in the boxes and racks are group according to what day they are listed.
  • They have 30-50 shipments a day because a lot of their customers buy more than one item. They can ship about 30 packages in an hour. They offer discounts on shipping for multiple items.
  • Their shipping cost starts at a flat rate of $3 per item. For every additional item, they charge 50 cents.
  • Everything they do is at auction. Unless it is a consigned item. Or unless it is an item that has an established minimum value.
  • In pricing, they try to make their starting point half of what they think it would sell.
  • They buy a lot on estates. So they can get those small and compact valuables like jewelry, watches, pens, coins of all types, and unique items.
  • They also handle a lot of artwork, some antiques, and musical instruments as well.
  • They have all year round items. But, there is a boost in sales during the Christmas season. It normally starts every October. Sales come from people that are buying for their loved ones who is are coin collectors.
  • Now that David's kids have grown up, he has more free time from them to list more. He plans to expand the items they are doing on eBay. Their store itself will probably expand as well doing a lot more. They may start to offer some items directly from their own website in addition to eBay. It would be for items that for some reason don't do well on eBay.
  • David hopes his business would continue to grow at the rate that it has grown over the last few years.

Advice, Tips & Tricks

  • To ensure a 100% feedback, you should take a great deal of describing and taking pictures of your items. In creating a description, imagine the person who is going to buy the item as your friend. Your friend picks up the item and asks, “what is this?”. Your answer to your friend would be the description of the item. If you type it this way, the person on the other end will have a clear picture of what he/she is bidding on.
  • To keep your business going, David recommends to observe these basic rules:
    • 1. You have to price your products competitively.
    • 2. You have to take seriously the way that you are perceived by people on eBay. It does not just mean on feedback, but in means on proper spelling and punctuation.
    • 3. Your descriptions are accurate.
    • 4. You are using the proper industry vernaculars — the words that people in your market understand.
    • 5. Make sure to answer questions politely, accurately, and as quick as possible.
    • 6. Treat eBay as a real business.
    • 7. Treat customers with respect.
    • 8. Operates your business with a lot of common sense.
  • For those who are starting or struggling with their eBay business:
    • 1. Be honest with yourself.
    • 2. Do a lot of research as if you are the buyer.
    • 3. Look into the items that you are selling. View them as a potential buyer would see them. Look at it from a presentation standpoint, accuracy of the description, and competitiveness of the price.
    • 4. If you discover that you paid more than you are selling for, don't torture yourself trying to get more than they were. Let it go. Sell it for whatever it takes for you to try again.
    • 5. Don't be too attached to having to make a profit on everything you sell.

Quotes

  • “Experience is really the best teacher.”
  • “Your training and experience will speak for itself.”
  • “There is a fine line between an auction and a sale.”
  • “Treat eBay as a real business.”
  • “Treat customers with respect.”
  • “Operate with a lot of common sense and you will be successful.”
  • “The majority of the tough times are when things are not selling or they are not selling for what you hope they would sell for.”
  • “What you sell and what you ask for are things you have a lot of control over.”

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