All the knives on eBay

Over in one of iKC’s discussion areas, Scott had this factoid about “All the knives on eBay” and his post made me begin to think about. It made me think a lot of how eBay has driven this business without much concern for the wishes or needs of buyers and sellers, or more importantly, the historical manor knife buying, selling and trading occurred prior to their existence.

Few of us can say we have not used eBay ourselves… It is the new 24/7 knife show. Or that’s what it was in the beginning. But is it an auction site or another catalog site like Amazon.com?

I have tracked several categories over the past year to see what was happening to the market. It is the best place available to get a feel of our market. Is it really? Are you getting a manipulated look at the market?

I saw where Ken Mundhenk asked the other day why the Great Eastern Cutlery Subsection on eBay was so skewed to “Buy Now” only listings. As I write there are 85 (active) gross listing and only 25 are true bid auction listings. But with the eBay store listings there are 138 represented as “Buy Now”

Those are the type factoids I have been pulling for a year and I have some of my own opinions about eBay and I want (and I think all) would benefit from hearing yours. Not just about eBay but search engine results and what can specific items be purchased for outside of eBay at fine internet sites like TSA, Shepherd Hills, SMKW etc.

It is true that now, other than a few Internet dealers the vintage knife market is eBay’s. The statistics there show a different eBay. A real auction site for on average 80% of “vintage knives” are true bid listings. For it’s really no surprise. Experience collectors know what they are putting out there and they know honest market forces will bring them an acceptable price if not better. Just this morning I saw a 2002 Halloween Muskrat (the first SFO for Halloween Case knives) at $480.00 with 24 bidders and 32 minutes left. The seller’s reserve was $150. I missed the close so I do not know if it ran higher in the last few minutes but that’s real auction selling and it’s exciting to see.

Where do you stand with your buying dollars? Do you depend on eBay? If you have a special collector interest or subcategory of knives and want me to do some market research there? Send me a note. Are there trends on products you’d like to know more about, like Elephant Toes or Seahorse knives (popular around our community here) send me a note. Sound off about your likes and dislikes about eBay or Internet retailers. Who do you do your business with?
So ergo “All the Knives on eBay” a blog…. But it’s not all about eBay. This is I hope a market barometer of opinions from you, research and factoids about the market that will let us all learn to be savvy buyers and sellers.

Many thanks to Scott King for encouraging me to blog on this subject. My blog’s success is as driven by you as it is me. So please let me know what you want to know.

Thanks and I look forward to being a resource to you and to the collectors here at iKnifeCollector.


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Tags: Case, Cutlery, Eastern, Evans, Frank, Great, Internet, Knives, eBay, iknifecollector, More…knives, retail

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Comment by Trent Rock on November 4, 2009 at 21:56
EBAY is the greatest "innovation" for collectors..IMHO

I also believe that the EBAY "market rate" (what economists call equilibria is the CLOSEST one can come to the true "fair market value"

I dream that EBAY will release to the public all the sales data
Then one could create an "index"
Say, the Western Boulder, CO Fixed Blade Pricing Index...

I hear people saying "the EBAY market for X knives is 'soft' "
Wouldn't it be nice to know for sure whether or not the market is soft or strong?
Instead of guessing based on anecdotal evidence

I don't like the fact that TWO knife "experts" have the abiklity to have auctions pulled if THEY deem they are fake
I prefer that consumers should police THEMSELVES
Buyer beware and all that stuff
I don;t need 2 clowns telling me what is real and not
If I buy a fake
Oh well
It's on me..MY mistake
And learn from it

I have concerns that since EBAY has a monopoly===>
They can pretty much raise prices when and however much they want
People will complain and moan
But, they will still use EBAY.....

Here is an interesting economic journal article on EBAY sniping
Like most academic writing===>
You can just read the summary or abstract
And the topic sentences


This one talks about consumer surplus
It turns out EBAY buyers actually "save" money!!


Here is how to "cheat" using auctions ;)
Darn bidding cartels!!!
Comment by Frank Plant on November 4, 2009 at 21:01
I think that eBay has become a "necessary evil". Who among us doesn't remember when the big box discount stores first opened?! Lower prices...little or no service. But we had a choice back then. We could continue to trade with our local community merchants and pay more. Now, a large percentage of the smaller merchants are gone. I've seen eBay change over the years. I told them years ago that one day the big dog (eBay) was gonna bite itself in it's own ass, but that day isn't here yet. I love to buy knives from a dealer, but I'm not willing to pay a lot more for it. I also sell a few knives on eBay auctions, but have't run into some of the problems mentioned. I agree that the fees have increased, but I'm old enough to remember when an ice cream cone cost five cents.
I still have a choice....I can continue to buy at eBay auctions or stop. I'll probably keep it up until I get fed up or something better comes along.
Comment by Randy, HHH Knives on November 3, 2009 at 13:15
iKC, Lets face it.. Ebay has LOST THERE MARBLES!! As well as alot of buisness from all the changes they have made.. In the Knife market as well as many others.
The very things that made them the largest market place on the net. is the things that they have changed! GO FIGURE!!!!

There are still some great deals to be had.. But deals are not what this is about, now is it?
I collect and make knives because I love it! Something thats hard to explain. But easy to FEEL!
And although getting a deal is great somtimes.. I would rather know I was getting a good knife or products..
Comment by Frank Evans on November 2, 2009 at 20:21
Randy has become a valued contributer Jose, as with you. Please stick with us and join us. You do not have to agree with me or anyone, but it's your voice and your product and your opinion that's valuable to us all. I see you make custom knife sheaths.... Well I need to learn about who does just that as well as all the other members of iKC. This is a network of knife folks.... some folders, some cutstom, some tactical.... but all needing your opinion, knowlege, and maybe, (what I hope) an outlet for trade of services and product "the old style" Man on Man or (polotically correct) buyer on seller! Join up and participate. Some may wish I'd be less vocal, but your voice matters here. Welcome Jose.
Comment by JT Jose fivesixthree JT on November 2, 2009 at 13:05
Comment by Frank Evans on October 31, 2009 at 14:54
Thank you for your two cents! It's always worth far greater. Scott, I've spent 30 years in Real Estate and hosted several live auctions an it is the purest example of true “arms length” buyer seller / capitalism we have. (Note “now” there is off site live bidding through the internet and phone at all live auctions but it’s controlled and disclosed) No, eBay does not represent the market in the fashion of the “real” auction. I plan to track what they call (eBay) “Search Engine Integrity” this week. Already, Randy has expressed his battle with eBay and this issue and I read where Greg Holmes battled with them over the term “Ivory”. As an auctioneer, you have to learn whether you are interested or not in the products you are presenting the “language of the deal” so-to-speak. ‘nough for now, thanks for your impute and support.

In Memoriam
Comment by Scott King on October 31, 2009 at 13:55
My two cents- if it hadn't been for eBay back when it started, I might not be a collector today. When I got back into collecting, as an adult, eBay is where I bought ALL my knives- I didn't even know what a knife show was back then.
I know there are issues- and as an auctioneer, I really don't like online auctions- too much opportunity for shield bidding, frauds, liars, etc. At a live auction, I can usually tell when something fishy is going on. Most of the auctions today there have minimum opening bids so high rarely is there an opportunity for a decent buy- which isn't that what an auction is supposed to represent to the buyers anyway?
Comment by Frank Evans on October 31, 2009 at 12:35

Thanks for your response.

I too have had my own personal eBay store and it was running well until the "New eBay" rules and regs were enforced by - (my opinion) – by eBay minions who did not understand our “lingo” nor the intricacies of the knife trade. Therefore, like you, I had disputes over pulled listing for titles, photos etc.
The straw that broke the preverbal “camel’s back” was an infraction they call “search engine integrity”. Which will be the subject of my next blog later this week. In short it’s the use of “Case” or any other descriptive word or phrase that’s deceptive to the true nature of the product or service being promoted.
Excuse me eBay, have you enforced this rule in the last 6 months? I’m going to try to gather the statistical numbers to quantify my observation but I do not think it is necessary to prove that the minions have been told to look the other way. Just for yourself check out in a page of 50 listings (which is the typical number per page) how many are other products not Case. (please know that I am only referring to Case’s subcategory because this is the largest sort and the most abused not that other products like custom knives, and other factory knives do not have similar oversight continuity or lack-there-of)
As our former President said, “I feel your pain”. I hope to prove my case for the absence of integrity among the eBay monitors by quantifying a multiple searches at separate intervals throughout the week.
What can we do about it? I do not know but forums like iCK allow the offering of items someone wants to sell buy. In commercial real estate we have regular meeting whereby all are there to express what they have clients looking for or clients selling looking for buyers. I think (hope) that’s where the custom / vintage / internet retailer will discover an outlet for unregulated commerce at no fee per transaction.
It’s at our fingertips but we have to make it happen as Scott has created and made this available.
Next week, check out and see what % of a Case eBay sort is Case, other, associated or bogus violations of “search engine integrity”.
Comment by Brad Hyde on October 31, 2009 at 12:29
I use Ebay...but I hate it. I believe Ebay is one of the reasons that local knife clubs and national clubs (NKCA) are struggling with attendance (both buyers and dealers) at the shows. I use to sell on Ebay...but no longer because of there constant increase in fees and their liberal ways in what you can list and not list. Example: I had a Case Muskrat with mammoth ivory handles...the auction got pulled because of the word "ivory". When I call Ebay about it they told me that ivory items could not be sold on Ebay because they didn't want to encourage poaching . Well...unless Ebay has time machines for sale I don't think there will be much poaching of mammoth ivory.
Comment by Randy, HHH Knives on October 31, 2009 at 11:01
Frank, As a knife maker and collector, I have used ebay as a launch pad and its been a invalable. I have ment many great knife people through there as well as bought and sold some INSANE custom knives!

But on the other side of this, over the past year ebay has changed. And most of the changes are not that great.. I try and not complain, as I have spent many to many hours on the phone in vain.. As listing after listing was pulled by them.. CRAZY!

What other options are there? for buying and selling knives.. If anyone can point me to a better place, Im interested!!!!

This is a great blog subject and should be explored. Thanks for starting it..

Best Regards,

White River Knives

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