Friday, December 5, 2014

Hockey Card Retailer: Mark Tower of Bear Ridge Collectibles

Hello Hockey friends

It has been a while since I've written here, and I have also removed a few blog entries that were more gathering my focus more than what I wanted this blog to become.  I might not do a lot here fast, but I hope to keep this blog going with interviews, memories and hockey card discussions.  I am back from the virtual sleep here, with the beginning of hockey season, school, and various life events, it became a lot harder to keep up to date on the blogs I work on.  But, I am very happy to mark the return with an interview with a retailer from Ebay of Hockey cards.
Mark Tower of Bear Ridge Collectibles has impressed me with service, variety and most of all for a cheapskate like me, price.  So I am pleased to present my interview with Mark Tower: 

Alex Ness: You have a fine ebay store, do you also sell from a brick and mortar street location?

Mark Tower: Right now, I have an online presence only.  At the present time I don't think I'll go the brick and mortar route, but as it grows who knows what may happen in the future.  I do hope in early 2015 to have a permanent booth at the Clarence Antique World Co-Op in Clarence, NY, a suburb of Buffalo. I would also like to start doing shows if they make a comeback around here.

Alex: Your Ebay store sells Hockey cards, do you do any other sports? Or is it your comfort area/interest area and you are going to do it and that alone?

Mark: As recently as last fall, I would say I was equal football and hockey, with some basketball, baseball, racing, soccer, and wrestling mixed in.  However, I've had limited success with that - too many dealers in baseball and football, and limited interest in the others has led me to focus almost primarily on hockey.  I've also found that keeping like items in my store makes it easier for buyers as well.

Alex: Do you have a favorite set of cards yourself? Do you use your ebay to hunt for those?

Mark: Absolutely!  I am a long time collector who decided to try to turn my passion for the hobby into a viable business.  Right now, I am trying to complete the Signature Rookies Miracle on Ice 1980 USA Olympic Team Autograph set.  I have about 65% of the set but am missing most of the toughest ones including Herb Brooks.  I hope I can finish that one someday!  I do luck into some cards for my personal collection occasionally by building relationships with my regular buyers.

Alex: What was the most difficult lesson you've learned from selling on ebay?
Mark:  It's a lesson I'm constantly learning, and one my fiancee is always reminding me off - don't take things personally.  It is the thing I have the hardest time with - for example, getting a terrible price offer on a card I have priced fairly, and then being attacked because I won't take the offer.  It's amazing how many messages I get about how my prices are too high, I don't know what I'm doing, etc.  I need to have a thicker skin about that - but it's hard for me because I take pride in being as fair in every deal and pricing as I possibly can.   Hopefully it's something I will continue to improve at!

Alex: How do you go about pricing? I would go nuts I am afraid. You sell so inexpensively compared to most, and you are so efficient, I can't see profit in your selling.

Mark: Wow that is a great and tough question - my sales philosophy and success  is based on volume purchases and repeat sales, and offering the best possible value to keep happy customers coming back.  To do that it requires me to consistently buy large collections or lots, which can be scary at times, but it's how I can make this work.   That allows me to sell at the prices I do and still be profitable - so high risk and very moderate reward, ha.   The trick for me I guess is to always think of it as a business and not as a collector.  Not the easiest thing for me! It's a very interesting time to be a card dealer as lots of people are getting out - but I do believe you can still be successful at it if you are willing to put in the work and build long term relationships.

Thanks Alex!

Mark Tower
Bear Ridge Collectibles
Buy - Sell - Trade