Sunday, October 28, 2007

Limited Quantities

I'm a small batch maker of tools and knives. Although I make a fair amount of stuff there are always people who are unable to get my creations because they are often all gone by the time they see them available. Lately I have been hearing from more and more of these folks and how unhappy they are that they can never seem to get in on the latest release of goodies.

What has been much commented on lately has been the pattern of new items showing up on Ebay at hugely inflated prices. These are mostly brand new items, never been used. So obviously a few people have been buying good sized quantities of stuff for the sole purpose of reselling them for profit. I think it is interesting that many of the items actually sell at these prices and I am grateful that my work is held in such high esteem that somebody would actually be willing to pay $65 for a whistle for example. But I have to say I am not entirely comfortable with the situation. I think it is really unfair for the folks who just want to add a new piece to their collection or even just buy ONE piece, sometimes their very first Atwood tool.

Not everyone can check my site for updates and releases constantly during the day and I realize that. I have made comments in the past about robots being run to check my site. A few of them are still being run despite my polite request for the perpetrators to stop running them or at least curtail their use so as not to inflate my bandwidth. A few of these resellers may in fact be running bots in order to swoop in and grab some goodies the moment they are released.

So here's the thing....in order to level the playing field a bit...if I think you are buying items in quantity for the sole purpose of reselling for profit I reserve the right to deny you the purchase of multiple items. I'm not saying I won't sell you one of the new Widget X, I just won't sell you 4 of them. I'm also not saying that people can't buy something and then decide they don't want it, then put it up on Ebay. That's fine too. But when I see a pattern develop of multiple item purchases and then up they go on Ebay for scalper's prices then it's not OK.

I apologize in advance to anyone who that may piss of but the fact of the matter is I'd rather piss off a few people than continually frustrate hundreds. Fair is fair.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Peter, I have bought items off your store. And more often than not I have missed items. Just the luck of the draw.
But I have seen these items on Ebay for twice what they paid for the item, and they will have more than one of that item. Really makes me mad. They are not letting us even have a chance.
So what I am trying to say is thank you very much. I am glad this is going to end. Wade

deano42 said...

Hi Peter

I think this is a very honourable thing to do, thanks.

I know I am geographically challenged by living in Europe - I'm normally asleepg when the new stuff comes up.

So there may be an opportunity that by taking this action there may be some goodies left when I check you site the next day.

Thanks
deano

D'gou said...

Hear! Hear!

Thank you. I refuse to buy off of eBay because the profits do not go to the artist. It is nice to know I'll have a better chance now.

dan said...

I agree, this sounds very reasonable. But it also speaks to the amount of demand for your work. Have you considered increasing production in some way while maintaining your artistic integrity? An apprentice perhaps?

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I am intensely frustrated with your site CONSTANTLY being out of everything. I used to check day after day after day and did that for months. The problem is, the situation never changes.

As of now, I have simply lost interest.

If people are buying quantities and selling them for a big markup on eBay, that ought to clue you in that the demand is greater than the supply. You either need to devote more time to it OR hire people to help you out.

With a demand for your products and the site constantly being out of stock, you're moving forward not with growing your business, but running it completely into the ground.

BigEd said...

Peter,

limit or don't...I deplore the slash & burn...but as with the others I've often been frustrated at not getting Ti stuff but seem to get lucky with stainless. Ugh.

So I prefer and CAN pay 2x for colored Ti and used the SS for funds for any used or new Ti.

However your "hit and miss" may cause more frustrations. Please have hard and fast rules. One per customer or limit 2-3 for large batches.

Demand seems not to drive supply as you are but one man, so economics says this will drive prices...just so...

If you don't like churn & burn...too bad...If I buy it it's mine now... one two or more pieces...I have the funds to buy these I can make ten paypal ID's and used several PO Boxes...so what then?

The cost of initial buys, posting ads, ebay & paypal fees plus for some of us State and local tax ID and more...is not trivial...you try it...

...if the Chiness can "steel" copies then I can sell my originals...

I can just never afford more than 1-3 at a time. Also some items seem in demand and sell at prime cost. Damascus, Talonite and one of a kinds. The larger batches seem not to draw as much resale value...

So what would you pay for a one of a kind never again seen Atwood?

Peter if you put a few on ebay how high would the bids go up? What's the difference? If they PAY then it is VALUE. People are lazy and so pay for the lack of effort to get any items. Want more people to have more chances? Then make more or dribble a few a day over time...so word gets out. Now they only last a few minutes or hour.

Try to "Reserve" a few units till another batch is ready and then release BOTH some old and new, reserve those few again and when the next batch is ready release a few of all Three....see? more choices, more people want new and will pass on the older last two models this allows others more accessability to models and demand...perhaps even DROP prices for 1st & 2nd models 10$ each iteration allowing more buyers access to the last 1-2 units from a batch three generations ago...

Ed

Anonymous said...

Hey Peter

Im in Australia. And your website looks like you've got some great stuff. I've just never seen any of it for sale. And Ive read your Blog on a daily basis for the last 3 to 4 months and Ive checked back to your website regularly during this time.

I understand you're a one man operation but I've never even had the opportunity to buy your stuff.

Perhaps you could consider the odd commission?

Andrew

Phy said...

Peter,
I like your pro-active stance, and I love your handmade products.

For those who don't know what and when items are available, a) that's part of the charm - it's like Woot! for hand-made knives, and b) try adding Planet Pocket Tool to your RSS feed. It's really just that simple. I use Bloglines, a free, online service that I can access anywhere.

Keep up the great work, and thanks again for your proactive approach to the problem.

Johne Cook
http://raygunrevival.com

Josh said...

Peter,

I deal with this all the time in the high-end wine business, where scarcity is the rule of the day. Perhaps the best thing to do is create what's called an allocation list, which allows you to offer pieces to the people whom you want to offer and whose purchase rights you want to protect and still select out an amount for general release at the same time. I'd be happy to discuss more with you.

Josh_Stein @ USN

Anonymous said...

I'm with those who have never seen anything available on your site. I think you should accept that your website/commerce model is preventing those who would most like to get your products away, and allowing others to take advantage of you.

I would MUCH prefer to see you start an ebay store, or something similar, so that you can (1) get paid for your items what they are worth, and (2) get your products to those who would most value them.

I think it's a bit like rationing: if you make gas cheap, there won't be any. So let it be expensive, and those who want to pay can get it. Float the price on ebay, and you'll get paid, and people will at least have a chance of finding your products.

Peter Atwood said...

You know, I looked into Ebay stores. The problem I would run into there is that the fees have become ridiculous. I already have plenty of complications and overhead in my business and I just think that moving it to Ebay would be adding layers of headaches and expense on my end. I'm sorry that that doesn't make it easier for people seeking my tools but I just don't see Ebay as solving any problems.

That said, I may post an item on Ebay at some point up the road if it were a high ticket one off type of thing. I would give plenty of warning here on the blog if I were to do such a thing.

BSR said...

Anonymous 10:05 said:
"If people are buying quantities and selling them for a big markup on eBay, that ought to clue you in that the demand is greater than the supply. You either need to devote more time to it OR hire people to help you out.

With a demand for your products and the site constantly being out of stock, you're moving forward not with growing your business, but running it completely into the ground."



Where is it written that Peter has to run his business so that his pieces become a commodity?

Why must he grow his business, if he doesn't want to?

Success can be defined in many ways -- making the business bigger doesn't always make it better.

I understand (and share) your frustration with the lack of availability at times. There certainly may be a better way for Peter to do this, but setting up a factory, hiring a staff, and "growing" the business might just not be what Peter wants. Many entrepreneurs figure that out too late, when they are spending all their time "managing" and not "doing". Let the man do it the way he wants to.

Todd said...

Hey Peter,

I'd guess most of us like the way you are running your show. And it really is your gig, so go ahead and set whatever rules makes you happy. Why not just limit quantities to 1 per item per order? It would be a pisser for me, as I'm trying to line up some Christmas presents (I recently bought two whistles and two bug out blades for stocking stuffers), but it would "spread the wealth". Cheers,Todd.

Dan said...

Paypal also adds fees on top of the ebay fees. People dont think it is much, but they sure add up.

CoatHanger said...

It's hard sometimes when you are not able to obtain all of your desires,
Sometimes in life one cannot always obtain the desires they seek.
Do be frustrated with what you do not have,
Enjoy what you have now and be happy for that. Because life changes every day.

BigEd said...

So we digress...

Why is it different if I BUY these two or more at a time and resell then if Peter does it...?

How do YOU determine my INTENT.

I'd willing to forgo the fees, posting, transactions and Paypal/Ebay overhead for a Store so ANYONE can pay whatever the market bears.

I'll pst a few Atwoods at $1 and see where they go...

What if I buy Atwoods off of EDC or CPF members and then sell those off Ebay. How is this different?

You cannot control commerce.

You can control distribution.

The maker's marks are one way. The other is limit orders to one per person? How about "registered" distribution channels?

This is how rare watches, cars or jewlery is disbursed. You must buy from a dealer.

Let us sell for you...we have stores, checkouts and tax ID's. You pay us commissions and SET THE PRICES. So more money for peter, more items from other sources, at premium prices...for those how want them. Ebay or not...no matter.

E

Gadget Guy said...

I have bought an item off eBay because there is no other way to get it. What is frustrating for me is that the new generation is buying your tools and selling them for a profit! I'm never made a profit on any of your tools when and if I decide to sell them.

I have said it before, the only fair way is to have a sales list like every other maker has. It's beyond frustrating for me as a longtime buyer of your tools and supporter of you long before the new crowd came along to not be able to buy anything. I am posting this because I think you need to see our side as the buyers. We did what you asked and quit bothering you for custom items, special requests, etc... In return we have to fight with every other Tom, Dick, or Harry that comes along.

I could have posted this anonymous, but that isn't my style. To throw your arms up and say "I'm just an artist" isn't fair or right. This is just my opinion and the way I feel about the situation. I know others feel the same way I do, but won't stand up and say anything.

Anyway, I hope this all works out for everyone :)

GG

Mr. Biggles said...

I have been a long time buyer of Atwood Tools and I now must fight the crowds just like everyone else but, that is just the way it goes sometimes. I am still able to buy Atwood Pieces occassionally. I am happy with what I have been able to purchase from him. Sometimes it's good to appreciate what we already have.

B. Waite said...

Peter,

Why not hire someone else to do larger production runs for you?

This would leave you free to do the research and development that you love, and allow us to buy your work at reasonable prices.

As it stands, scalpers are earning the profit that you deserve and your loyal customers are constantly disappointed.

BigEd said...

Atwoods for the masses!

All Proceeds for my parkinsons research...

http://stores.ebay.com/ERCK-Recreation-n-Supplies

Pop n' Chop
Bugbite (GID)
Crawdaddy (GID)
Bottlebug(2)
Keyton
Ti Keyton
Damascus Keyton "Big Rose"
S30V Goblin V Grind
Prybaby Black Oxide
HexBaby Blue Patterened Ti
Whistles! Brass Blue Ti and Flame Purple
and more!

thanks,

Ed
Dx'd with Parkinsons 2005

Junglist said...

just bought a mini keyton area 51 (154cm) on ebay for $60. and a prybaby XL for $76. sigh. would have preferred that $$ went right into your pocket instead of someone elses, but i guess thats the way it goes.

FYI - if you do an Advanced Search, you can search "Completed listings" and see what your stuff has been going for. market research if nothing else...

BigEd said...

Peter trolls the ebay sites...I know cause I sold my complete collection there an he caught typos and errors with auctions.

I invested in a large diverse collection of atwoods for my use and research. Now things change with my health...I have a hard time holding these small tools with Parkinson's...

I spent my original time (not insubstantial- as people now see), money & shipping to fight the crowds, pay peter and get these originals. Some I used as EDC, some I loved so much I was reluctant to carry! Talk about an artist!

However I also bear the cost and fees of ebay and paypal...have YOU sold there lately?

I asked for what I thought fair (from research) and gave BIN or starting auctions in the low ranges... Demand drives these up.

If Peter wanted to do THIS for money he'd be way ahead of us and have outsourced designs to repro firms or sell ALL these on ebay...just imaging the prices then!

Hey Peter...sell a whole production run of folding blades on ebay and then retire for 3 months while you do "research"...rinse & repeat...

If you want a rare Atwood like a original Bowie you must pay fir it if you missed the original sale.

If everyone wants one, fewer still will sell them at all.

Logan said...

i have looked on ebay and most of your items have been coming from ipod2000 out of denver. right now there is 10 items for suction and has sold about 25 in the last few months . i know everybody wants to make a $ or 2 but sell some ipods or somthing. not a custom made item. just wanted to give a heads up. dont buy from ipod2000!