Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pattern Rescue Blog, Take Two :-)

I've cleaned out the old posts and we're off to a fresh start! If you haven't already heard, I'm hoping some of you will jump in as guest bloggers so there will be something of interest here even on the days I can't get to it. There's certainly plenty to talk about, but some days the words don't flow....

So much new going on at Pattern Rescue, and please keep in mind that we ALWAYS value your input. Today's topic is about pattern sales -- which needs more explanation and discussion than appropriate for the newsletter.

Buried in the fine print of the site is an assurance that we'll be in touch if your box of donated patterns includes a hidden treasure (generally, a pattern worth $35 or more). And, of course, non-members can ask us to reimburse them for the postage -- and about a third of them do.

This issue has come to the top now for 2 reasons. First, we've got a couple of hidden treasures that came in recently and we need to deal with them. Second, we've seen a steady increase in the number of pattern donations coming from non-members, and the pin money fund can't even begin to cover the postage.

Hidden treasures are not that common. Many of you are clearly experienced collectors and/or pattern sellers and we expect you have a good idea what you're sending -- as when Nicole offered to send us the 1940s and 1950s patterns she didn't want from a recent estate purchase. We weren't expecting to find an uncut McCall 1399 Mexican jacket pattern (approximate retail value $50) tucked in among the shirt-dresses and suits!

Nicole had no idea what it was worth and doesn't know how to go about selling it. Sure -- we could just send it back to her (doesn't seem neighborly, but...) or put a note in the newsletter for anyone interested to get in touch with her. We're inclined to consider selling it for her because we have issue number two: postage requests.

Large estate donations are getting to be very common (outnumbering member donations so far this year) and usually have 100 or more patterns. One that came in a couple of months ago cost the sender nearly $100 to ship -- and included a stack of 1940s apron patterns among other joys. But she's still waiting because there isn't enough extra in the pin money fund.

So... we're leaning towards a small pattern auction once every month or two. Hidden treasures would be listed with a minimum price of 1/2 the appraised value. For non-member donations, we'd pull out a few patterns and post the amount we need to raise altogether to cover the postage. Bidding would be a silent auction style with a specific end date, and bids would be restricted to Pattern Rescue members.

I don't have a problem with doing this, and I think it would be fun for everyone involved. The only thing that really concerns me is keeping the message from getting muddy. With very few patterns ever being for sale, and with the sale proceeds going to the original pattern owners, I think we can keep the auctions clearly identified as exceptions.

On the other hand, I may be missing something obvious. So here's where you guys jump in. Reactions? Suggestions? Weigh in and let me know!

5 comments:

  1. Wonderful idea! Especially since restricting these auctions to members only will encourage folks to make a habit of donating pin money in order to become a member and get in on this. Very nice!

    Here are the problems I see with this. People might start getting lazy and always ask for postage reimbursement, expecting you to just make it up with these auctions. That would put an incredible burden on you to hold auction after auction, when you've got so much else to do.

    I think you need to build in some sort of new incentive for people to just eat the postage. Maybe the rewards for donations need to be 2-fold: points for the patterns themselves AND points for postage spent sending them to you, this latter on a sliding scale from a point per dollar down to a point for every few dollars (for the really outrageous amounts of postage).

    Also, while I think the prospect of members-only auctions of the really rare patterns is exciting, I'd be worried that the market for any particular pattern might not be there and that some would go unsold. You might want to add another category to the Trade section just for these, calling them something like "Rare and Ravishing" and just let them sit there for a good year or two before auctioning them off some other way, such as via eBay.

    Cheers, CC

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  2. I also support the idea of occasional auctions! I think that would add something to the process and your site. And if only members can bid, that is a great benefit.

    Re CC's comment that some might go unsold - then the original owner may have the option to list on ebay or whatever.

    As to pin money - not sure how many members are here now, but if you asked for all of us to donate a few dollars to the pool, I am sure that would help considerably.

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  3. Hmm... Hadn't considered the "what if they don't sell" scenario. Things in the Trade area go out the door as fast as we list them -- but redeeming 50 pattern points is not the same as forking over $50 in cash :-)

    Auctions would definitely have to be few and far between -- extra work and, of course, we're not here to sell patterns. But if it would be fun and serve a useful purpose, it's probably worth a try.

    CC -- postage reimbursement is only available for people who don't want pattern points. Most of the time it's people sending in collections they've inherited. We don't guarantee anything -- but the few who do ask for postage are sending wonderful patterns.

    Any other comments out there?

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  4. Did you ever think of an etsy store for this? Just post occasional treasures and the reason for them being there. That way customers would know, and the upkeep of the stuff could be relatively low.

    But then again, non pattern rescue members would be able to buy them. I dont see that as a huge problem...

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  5. Hi, well be sensible, well-all described

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