Growing Small Traditions
As we prepare for a third year of Monthly Masterpieces Plus and Premium Auctions, it’s a good time to reflect on Small Traditions, on both the collecting concept and the auction company, on where we came from and why we started, how far we’ve come, where we plan to go, and the changes we will make as we continue to grow while still working hard to remain true to our name.
Small Traditions: The Experience and Value of Collecting
Small traditions are the little wonders in our American lives that bridge one generation to the next. They are the material illuminations of our parents’ and grandparents’ dreams, imagined and realized and then passed on to us as reminders of where we come from, who we are, and why we exist. Paintings and pictures, books, handwritten letters, autographs, toy soldiers and stuffed animals, coins, stamps, comics, a carte de visite, a Topps baseball card, an advertisement for soda pop. Tchotchke to some, treasured collectibles to others, these small traditions are the threads that give the fabric of our popular American culture its endless color. Without the passion of generations of collectors, however, much of this rich American inheritance would have been lost, so we thank them for keeping small traditions alive. We also encourage current and future collectors to return to the important work of small traditions, for “heaven and the future’s sake.” Invite your friends and your family, connect the past with the present and the future, discover, or rediscover, “the hobby,” and build your own small traditions.
Small Traditions LLC: The Online Sports and Americana Collectibles Auction Company
Small Traditions, the company, was originally the name of a hobby and small business started by my grandfather, “The Soldier Man,” and his father, who owned a toy store in Passaic, New Jersey. My grandfather was paid for his labor in toy soldier molds instead of cash, and with guidance from his father, he learned the meticulous art of toy making. Years later, he passed both the craft and the business along to me, which helped sustain me through graduate school, AmeriCorps, and my years as a writing instructor, setting up at craft shows and selling on eBay. After a decade in education, I then headed the writing and research for multiple auction companies. I handled and helped to sell more collectibles than I ever thought existed, and I wrote more than I ever imagined possible. I also established many contacts, and with my knowledge of the hobby and my contacts in place, I decided to start Small Traditions Monthly Auctions.
The Future of Small Traditions LLC: New Shipping Policies and Introducing “Cost-Free Grading”
The original goal of Small Traditions LLC was to create a highly visible and cost-free auction as an alternative to eBay and to other high-priced auction services. After fees, labor, and shipping, selling on eBay costs upwards of 15%, and most other services charge as much as 20%, with an additional 20-25% from their buyers. Our decision was to create a drastically different formula than either eBay or these high-cost services. The total inverse of eBay, we decided to charge our sellers nothing and instead charge our buyers 15%, which we add to their final bids. This provides us a modest profit and creates a structure not only fair, but comparable to the expense of selling on eBay and far cheaper than selling elsewhere.
Since our inception, we’ve been the only auction company in the industry to offer both free shipping and free grading and authentication services with the hobby’s leading third-party certification companies like PSA and BGS. Our auctions have nearly quadrupled in size since we started, and so has the value of the items they contain. To manage this growth and to continue providing both our buyers and our sellers with a cost-effective expense structure, we will be making two changes. First, beginning in 2014, we will be charging full shipping and handling fees. Please be sure to review our updated rates in our rules section. Secondly, we will replace our free grading promotion with a “cost-free grading” program. This program will allow consignors to submit to Small Traditions LLC however many cards they would like to have graded. Submitting cards on your own to third-party certification companies is not only a very expensive, time-consuming and lengthy process, but one that is extremely delicate and very frustrating. Use our expertise and bulk submission rates, and let us do the work. We’ll pre-screen your cards for grading candidates and prepare those selected for submission. We’ll also use our expertise to ensure that your cards are graded accurately. We’ll do all the work, and we’ll cover the cost up front, only charging consignors afterthe sale of their graded items. Click here to learn more about our “Cost-Free Grading” program now, and consider the following benefits when choosing to work with Small Traditions to grade and sell your collectibles:
- 0% selling fee for consignors
- Modest 15% Buyers Premium charged to bidders after their final bids
- Cost- free card grading & authentication with PSA & BGS
- $1 starting bids on all lots, a formula that engages multiple bidders early in the bidding process, endearing them to the items they want and thereby increasing the odds for significantly increased bidding competition
- Absolutely no reserves on all lots
My biggest pleasure in growing Small Traditions LLC has been to work closely with lifelong collectors who are unfamiliar with grading and other changes the hobby has seen since its heyday in the 80s and 90s. The educator in me still strives to teach and to inform others as much as possible about the curious nature of our hobby, and I am proud of where Small Traditions LLC is today.
- Our network of collectors’ blogs has helped to establish a knowledge-based brand associated with expertise and experience.
- We have developed an engaging auction system, one that is recognizable and reputable.
- Our registered user base has grown into a strong and trusted pool of several thousand pre-screened bidders.
- The unique page hits for many of our premium, no-reserve items often reaches totals comparable to those generated by similar listings on eBay.
- The size of our auctions, both in terms of total lots as well as the value of lots, continues to steadily increase.
People often call Small Traditions and ask that we check our warehouse for particular items. I’m flattered by the idea that our brand can convey the idea that we’ve grown so large as to require a warehouse, but the truth is that we are just a small team of a few lucky guys, working round-the-clock to grow Small Traditions LLC. As we look to the future, we pledge to remain true to that name, keeping our regular monthly auctions at a modest 1,000 lots or less and our quarterly premium auctions at 100-200 exclusive lots. Most importantly, we will strive to maintain the close working relationships that we have already developed, and we look forward to helping others grow and further enjoy their own small traditions.