Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Do you speak flea? eBay? Know your acronyms?

Now that I live mostly in a business world of secondary markets such as fleas, auctions, antique markets, estate sales and tracking online bidding, part of my prior business vocabulary has been replaced with words and phrases of a different kind.  For anyone new to any of these markets, it might help if you learn a little bit of the language, so you may speak and understand fluently when you're in these circles.  I thought I'd write down a some of the word descriptors, phrases, and acronyms that are common in the world of seeking treasures that you may also find helpful.  Some may seem elementary, but it's always good to take a refresher course and hone your skills.  And if you're not from the US or you're new to these markets, this glossary of terms will definitely be worth the read.  From the get-go, you should know the difference between.....

Antique / Vintage - typically an antique is defined as an item 100 years old or older, and vintage seems to be more relative to whoever is handling an item.  When a dealer signs up to sell in an organized market or antique mall, there are typically guidelines defining vintage, such as a minimum of being 25 years old, etc. If you're shopping fleas, auctions or estate sales, it's ok to ask a dealer the age of an item so you can make an informed buying decision before you pull out the cash (the universally accepted method of payment, best for bargaining).  Always ask what methods of payment are accepted, and be prepared to have to pay additional if paying with anything other than cash.

Buyers and sellers have other names besides the obvious, and they can be used interchangeably for either:  dealer, vendor, picker, junker, dumpster diver, hoarder (just checking to see if you're still with me).  Early bird is a name given to shoppers who come early to sales, sometimes sanctioned (as in early bird entry fees), sometimes not (no early birds, no exceptions!) - typical for flea markets, estate sales.

Moving along to the treasures themselves, sellers want their trash cool stuff to come across as something you would want to buy, so the list of acronyms/descriptors is plentiful, starting with:
  • NOS - new, old stock.  This refers to anything that may be either vintage or antique, but must be evident that it's never been used before.  Some items have notable signs of never having been used before, leading to more acronyms....
Often, a seller in the secondary market wants potential buyers to realize items of potential greater value than the ordinary item, simply for the way they were found.  This comes in the form of descriptors which shout, "Hey, this one is definitely worth the price, simply because it's....":
  • NWT - new, with tags.  Self-explanatory - never used, has original tag from retail.  This does not always mean the item's in the best of condition.  There are lots of variations on this type.
  • NWOT - new, but without tags.  In other words, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then...
  • MWT - mint, with tags.  Same as NWT, only arguably better.  The condition of the item looks like it could be on retail shelf today, it looks so good.  No dirt, dinge or odors.
  • MIB - mint, in box.  The item is in excellent condition, and even though the original tag(s) may not be present, it retains its original box.  Value of an item typical increases when original box is present.  This might also be labeled as NIP - new, in package.
Then, there are acronyms/descriptors which generally define condition, new or used.  Some collectors' organizations have very elaborate scale systems, which is out of scope for this discussion.  Here are some common condition descriptors:
  • As Is - it means an item usually has a flaw, not necessarily pointed out, and the price reflects consideration of the flaws.  In short, it means, buyer beware.
  • OOAK - one of a kind.  A seller usually likes to promote something that is unusual or unlikely to be replicated, as buyers, especially in the secondary markets, like to score items that are original, as in unique or the first of its kind.
  • EUC - excellent, used condition
  • EPOC - excellent, pre-owned condition
  • VG or VGC - very good condition
  • SNAD - significantly not as described - this is both a descriptor and complaint, from the buyer's perspective in the online community.  Sellers do NOT want to see this. Ever.  It comes in the form of feedback or official complaint filed by a buyer, wanting to tell the world that what they bought was not what they saw in photos, or read  in the written description of an item listed for sale.  It can be a death sentence for an online buyer.
Okay, enough for today - class dismissed.  Pop quiz will be on your next treasure-hunting adventure!  Study hard!