Tips for Bidding and Selling

On-Line auctions are now the best way to buy and sell trains. Believe me I know. I have been buying and selling trains now for over 20 years. I stopped doing train shows a number of years ago once I was introduced to on-line auctions. You can buy or sell wholesale or retail in one sales forum. I'd like to give you some tips on buying and selling using this site or any other.

I'm actually learning new things even today about selling trains on the net. It's only been around six weeks since we started using the buy-it-now feature available on

The problem was I didn't really understand the concept. But boy does it work!

We have always previously started our on-line auctions at 2.00 with no reserve. This is a great way to sell trains, because let's face it the auction is going to sell. And we did sell everything we auctioned.

But then a fellow auctioneer told me I was nuts not to use the buy-it-now feature with our consistently large inventory of trains.

So we tried a few and miraculously the first auction we tried sold with the buy-it-now feature.

That hooked me. Although we will mix 2.00 starting auctions in, the majority will be with the buy-it-now feature. This feature allows us to list more items than every before.

Just a couple of tips regardless of what type of auction you use. First I highly recommend that you start your auction as low as possible. Some people try to start their auctions at or near retail. This just doesn't work, and to make things worse you could get a reputation for starting auctions to high.

Same goes for reserve bids. I don't even recommend using the reserve on auctions, especially if your reserve is to high. Bidders remember and if they bid several times on some of your auctions never reaching the reserve, well needless to say they won't bid again. You need to encourage participation in your auctions.

If you have a web page or know of some place where you can post a link to your auctions, that is a great way to get traffic. We've always done this from our site and some misc. message boards. Believe me it works. If you need help finding the correct link to your auctions, please feel free to contact me. My e-mail address is below.

We start all our auctions well below retail. Actually we try to start them below wholesale if possible. In most cases the auction will bid up almost to retail. And if you are lucky and have a bidding war, you could realize higher than retail.

If you start an auction at a give-away price I guarantee you it will not only receive bids, but probably enough bids to push it almost to retail. Let's face it if a 773 Hudson in excellent condition starts at $300.00, there just simply ain't no way it will end there!

Easier said than done as I realize most people want to at least realize the money they paid for the item back in an auction. But if you paid almost retail and start it at or above what you paid, you are wasting your time. The item won't sell. So unless you are willing to take a loss on some items you are better off not using an auction to try to sell them. Although it is possible the buy-it-now feature could work well for you in that case.

One last thing about selling items on an auction site. It is a lot of work! Between the picture taking, uploading, description, and then shipping, etc., etc., well let's just say that you are basically in business for yourself. But the thing about using an auction site is that if you are careful about pricing, it is a very effective way to sell, and you will realize more than selling by bulk to an individual like me. However if you have a train collection with hundreds of items it could become overwhelming for you unless you have a lot of time on your hands. For this reason before you commit, try a couple of auctions first and see how you do. You'll know after a couple of auctions where you stand and if you want to continue.

Using this auction site for buying is simple and fun! You can pay retail, or in some cases buy at true wholesale prices if you are lucky. I know we have a number of dealers who use the site regularly for buying trains for their own inventory!

One thing I recommend you do when bidding is to bid the highest amount you are willing to pay the first time and make that your only bid. That is of course unless you simply have to win the item. And if that is the case, you have a good chance of paying to much, but then again if you really want the item, maybe you won't mind so much.

Most auction sites have what is called proxy bidding. This is when your bid starts at the auctions stated starting bid no matter what you bid above that amount. Then as others bid, your bid is raised until someone out-bids you. If that happens you will be sent an e-mail letting you know.

It's a good idea to log on and check the site every day. New auctions start most days and if you see something you really want, there are no bids, and it happens to be a buy-it-now auction, you can use that feature and end the auction right then and there so you are the certain buyer.

Don't ever bid without intending to pay. Feedback is like money in the bank. I've even seen auctions on ebay where the seller stated that no one with even one bad feedback could bid. That's a little ridiculous, because it is always possible that there could be a mis-understanding or mistake on someone's part. But feedback is the key to any auction site, and you should be very concerned with getting only positive feedback!

Hopefully these basic tips will help give you a more enjoyable time on That is what this site is about. We truly want you to have fun and be as successful as possible whether you are buying or selling! If you have any questions or suggestions you can email me at the address below.

Happy bidding and selling!

Charles Siegel (traincity)