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November Meeting - Table Sales, No Auction

JLW

CCA Members
Hey guys, oh god, how did I get roped into being the coordinator / announcer for this? :)

As many people have noticed and commented on, the regular monthly auctions have a real problem. Items in the auctions are going for cheaper and cheaper -- as auctioneer at the meetings, I sometimes have to fight to get people to bid that second dollar. As a result, sellers are bringing less and less, which is locking us into a vicious cycle. The less there is, the less people bid, the less people bid, the cheaper things are, the cheaper stuff goes, the less there is. This is a non-sustainable situation, and, as a club, we need to address it.

The BFD Marketplace works wonderfully as an alternative to auctions for our big annual event, and we'd like to try to incorporate that model into the regular monthly meetings. So, there will be no auction at the November meeting. Instead, interested sellers can bring bags and sell, after the speaker and raffle (only), from a table. You set the price on each bag / item / whatever, and you can haggle or not, its all up to you.

So, some FAQs!

Will this replace all auctions?
We're looking at doing this to alternate with regular monthly auctions. So, table sales in November. Holiday party in December. Auction in January. It'll be every other month.

What's it cost?
For the first meeting, there is no cost. You keep 100% of your sales, and set your own prices. For future meetings, we may charge a nominal table fee, and / or a percentage of sales. It'll still be less than auction percentage!

What if I only want to sell one bag?
There's no minimum to the number of items you can sell, nor any maximum. If you only have a few items to sell, you can still set up a table, or you can hold onto it for a little while longer until the next meeting with an auction. You can also combine with another seller, or sellers, and sell lots that way. As we're going to be doing auctions every other month, though, the best solution for small lots is probably to just hold off one more month.

If I'm driving an airplane, and at the first stop seven people get on, then at the second stop, three people get off, and two get on, and the third stop...
Wait, why are you driving an airplane?

How do I sign up? Can I prelist items for sale?
I'll be creating a separate thread for people to sign up -- please don't sign up in this one, but feel free to discuss or ask questions here. You can list whatever you'd like for sale. If you want to do pre-sales, you may do so at your discretion. However, we ask that all members be respectful of speakers, club announcements and such, and the raffles -- we've designated the post-raffle time for socialisation and sales. Buyers and sellers should not attempt to conduct sales before the raffles are over.

What kinds of items are allowed?
The same rules as the auction apply. Obviously, it should be aquarium related. No opened containers, expired products, etc. Fish must be properly bagged. Restricted plants and animals may not be sold.

What if I buy something and have a problem with it? Can I complain to CCA?
CCA is providing a space for interested sellers to sell products to members, and is not associated with individual sales. All transactions are between the buyer and seller only, and sellers should verify condition of any and all purchases.

What if something doesn't sell?
This is the really great part. If you have something that doesn't sell, you take it back with you. You can lower prices on items if you just want to get rid of them, or you can take it home. You don't have to worry about a valuable fish going for just a couple of bucks.

Can I pay with my credit card?
Some individual sellers may have the ability to accept cards. CCA will not run cards for members.
 

JLW

CCA Members
That's a good question, and probably a kink we'd have to work out down the road. Currently, you'll have to hold onto them until the next meeting with an auction.
 

Frank Cowherd

Global Moderators
Staff member
I like this innovation. The auctions are going downhill fast except for a few apparently desirable items. I have sold many bags of fish in the last year or so at the auction for less than 20% of my normal sales price. I had though we needed to go back to a minimum bid. That way I could set a minimum price on a bag of fish and if it did not sell, I could just take it back home instead of letting it go for a price that was way too low.

So now I can bring a bag of fish with a price on it and take it back home if it does not sell for a price I am willing to accept.
 

Reed

Very Fishe
Agree with Frank. I think if everyone would bring new people to the meeting and introduce them to the club and the awesome cichlid keeping hobby that could help the auction situation.
 

JLW

CCA Members
The problem with minimum bids in an auction vs. with table sales is that they lower the final selling price. We've run statistics on it. If you start an item low, it's more likely to get more engaged bidders who increase the final selling price than if you start it high (i.e., at a minimum). This doesn't seem to happen at events with fixed prices (e.g., BFD tables, tag sale, etc.)

Clubs that have eliminated minimum bids are making the right choice.

The double edge of that sword, though, is that without a minimum, items that simply wouldn't sell may sell for less than the seller wanted (particularly if their minimum is unrealistic for the auction, which doesn't mean unreasonable. Lately, at CCA auctions, any minimum over $5 is unrealistic... though I've also seen people put a $100 minimum on a bag of a dozen shrimp.) Not having a minimum means you're gambling that you'll get to whatever minimum you'd like. Putting a minimum on the bag, however, is a near guarantee that they'll either sell for less or not at all. An auction full of "no sale going once.. no sale going twice..." is going to turn buyers and sellers away.

I think that this is the best compromise.

And, ideally, the average member will not be participating in table sales, but holding on to fish for the every-other auctions. This'll make the auctions bigger and improve them.
 

Becca

Chairpersons
Staff member
I like this innovation. The auctions are going downhill fast except for a few apparently desirable items. I have sold many bags of fish in the last year or so at the auction for less than 20% of my normal sales price. I had though we needed to go back to a minimum bid. That way I could set a minimum price on a bag of fish and if it did not sell, I could just take it back home instead of letting it go for a price that was way too low.

So now I can bring a bag of fish with a price on it and take it back home if it does not sell for a price I am willing to accept.
Yeah, I've stopped bringing shrimp because I'm losing money on bags and polyfilter.

It might still be nice to have a centralized list of what will be there because it gives people an idea of what space they might want to free up or how much money to bring.
 

Frank Cowherd

Global Moderators
Staff member
The problem with minimum bids in an auction vs. with table sales is that they lower the final selling price. We've run statistics on it. If you start an item low, it's more likely to get more engaged bidders who increase the final selling price than if you start it high (i.e., at a minimum). This doesn't seem to happen at events with fixed prices (e.g., BFD tables, tag sale, etc.)

Clubs that have eliminated minimum bids are making the right choice.

The double edge of that sword, though, is that without a minimum, items that simply wouldn't sell may sell for less than the seller wanted (particularly if their minimum is unrealistic for the auction, which doesn't mean unreasonable. Lately, at CCA auctions, any minimum over $5 is unrealistic... though I've also seen people put a $100 minimum on a bag of a dozen shrimp.) Not having a minimum means you're gambling that you'll get to whatever minimum you'd like. Putting a minimum on the bag, however, is a near guarantee that they'll either sell for less or not at all. An auction full of "no sale going once.. no sale going twice..." is going to turn buyers and sellers away.

I think that this is the best compromise.

And, ideally, the average member will not be participating in table sales, but holding on to fish for the every-other auctions. This'll make the auctions bigger and improve them.

Josh,
I have to agree with you on this. Maybe a first. But the history and the results are as you say unless the audience at the auction is really large, and if it is large, then minimum bids are not even needed.
 

mchambers

Former CCA member
I'm not convinced this new approach will improve things, but I hope it does.

I think that the solution is to get more people to the meetings, by having better publicity (on this site and also by email to website members) and to have shorter, more concentrated meetings.
 

Reed

Very Fishe
I'm not convinced this new approach will improve things, but I hope it does.

I think that the solution is to get more people to the meetings, by having better publicity (on this site and also by email to website members) and to have shorter, more concentrated meetings.
Agree 100%, we need more members and more people at the auction
 

Maryland Guppy

CCA Members
Maybe my views are different than some, maybe I'll get hate mail after this. :D

I bring plants when I come to a meeting auction, I do not wish to bring them home.
Some auctions they bring a little money, sometimes $1 a bag. :rolleyes:
Me bothered by this? Absolutely not. I figure I have a surplus and for the cheap someone else can try to grow them.
Never thought about any real profit with fellow aquarists @ a local club.

I do sell @ a profit on the web, albeit not a lot of money but very fair prices.
I don't list plants for sale on the clubs forums though. Always felt this would not be in good graces maybe? ;)
Always figured local people wouldn't want to pay shipping for something they could get @ a meeting.
I also do not bring sub-standard plants to a club meeting either! o_O

I've been in the phish game before too.
Late 60's through the mid 70's breeding cichlids, basically taking over my father's tanks.
Quantity was king, supplied @ least 8 LFS's in my area with specimens, those days are gone!
Big box store won't purchase anything from you these days.

A big thanks to whom ever brought the C123 Cory's to a meeting last November.
Purchased a bag of 7 for $22, they are doing well and very happy in my planted tank! :D
 

JLW

CCA Members
Hey Woody,

You're not alone. There are a lot of members who brings things to the auction and have no desire to see them sell for any money, they just want stuff to go to a good home, and are happy that it didn't get flushed. Its not just plants, either, some of us produce A LOT of fry from what should be really rare, unusual, and even expensive fish. At a certain point, particularly if you're not interested in becoming a retailer, its better that those fish just go to someone rather than... well, what am I gonna do with 200 Neolamprologus? Heck, I can't tell you how many times I've let people "prune" my aquariums and take plants home -- its just compost otherwise.

However, even if *you're* not interested in making money on the fish, this is the way we fund the club, bring in speakers, and things like that. We simply can't continue as an organisation if we spend an hour (at the cost of xyz$ per hour) selling bags at a buck each. The club needs the revenue stream. Beyond that, its painful -- sometimes even a little insulting -- when you have really cool, rare, expensive fish and they're going for a buck.

There are also those who do put stuff into the auction to help pay for the hobby and what not. Talk to me, and I'll tell you, if you can pay the overhead of a fish biz with your fish sales, you're doing really well -- there ain't money in it. :) The ludicrously low auction prices are making a lot of sellers say "Why do I bother?" And, I would imagine some of them aren't coming to meetings anymore, either. . . .
 

Becca

Chairpersons
Staff member
Personally, I've noticed fewer things of interest in the auctions lately. There used to be times I came to some meetings just because there was something in the auction I wanted, but it's not that common anymore. There are definitely things I'll throw in there (or even donate) because I've got surplus, but there are also items that take quite a bit of work to grow out and bag up. Ever tried catching little baby L183s in a planted aquarium loaded with driftwood (food source)? Not easy. It's especially not easy when you've got a couple of kids trying to rip you in half because you're not paying attention to them :p.

I try really hard to put good information on my auction postings so that people will know what's cool about the item and have success with what they buy, so it also makes me a little sad when the auctioneer doesn't read the description. At a table, I can make sure the more sensitive or interesting things will go with the information I wanted the buyer to have.
 

DiscusnAfricans

President
Staff member
Yeah, I've stopped bringing shrimp because I'm losing money on bags and polyfilter.

It might still be nice to have a centralized list of what will be there because it gives people an idea of what space they might want to free up or how much money to bring.
On the 'marketplace sign-up' thread you're welcome to post what you're bringing for sale and prices. No different that having a FS thread in the marketplace, we're just asking for the sales to take place during this marketplace time and not during the time of the speaker. If anyone needs to pick up before the marketplace starts we can't stop them, we're just hoping to make this a part of the meeting and not just quick fish swaps before/after the speaker.
 

DiscusnAfricans

President
Staff member
Maybe my views are different than some, maybe I'll get hate mail after this. :D

I've been in the phish game before too.
Late 60's through the mid 70's breeding cichlids, basically taking over my father's tanks.
Quantity was king, supplied @ least 8 LFS's in my area with specimens, those days are gone!
Big box store won't purchase anything from you these days.
We appreciate that some members are willing to bring fish/plants without being overly concerned about the selling price. We always hope that the sellers feel they get a reasonable return on their sales so that they continue to bring more stuff to sell, and eventually it increases the size and diversity of the auctions we have.

I've gotten tons of cool stuff through the club, stuff I either couldn't find in a pet store, or maybe couldn't afford the pet store prices. Nowadays I try to buy something any time I got to an LFS, even if its small, but just to help keep them able to provide a storefront, as some things just can't be found at an auction, and I don't want online to be my only option for certain things.

Anyway, just a reminder that other than BFD, the club's only real revenue source is the raffle and auction at our monthly meetings beyond membership dues. Generally sponsorship is in the form of dry goods and/or fish, which get raffled or auctioned, we rarely get cash donations for anything besides an event such as BFD. Low auction sales do reduce the bottom line of our revenue, but even if we have 50 items with an average club split of $2, thats $100 to put towards the cost of the school rental, or pizza we provide, or providing accommodations to a non-local speaker. It doesn't cover the cost of the rental or a flight/hotel, but it helps make it possible, so we need to find ways to keep people bringing items, whether for the auction, or a marketplace.

This month we're not even asking for a fee to sell your goods, we're literally paying for the space for people to be able to sell anything they want at a price they feel is reasonable. If people like the concept, we'll do it again in the future for a nominal fee, and be able to continue to have these meetings, and keep providing club benefits such as group buys and annual events.

Looking forward to seeing what people will bring to the meeting, I like having a preview of auction stuff sometimes, but the 'mystery' of new stuff being available can be enticing too.
 

DiscusnAfricans

President
Staff member
I try really hard to put good information on my auction postings so that people will know what's cool about the item and have success with what they buy, so it also makes me a little sad when the auctioneer doesn't read the description. At a table, I can make sure the more sensitive or interesting things will go with the information I wanted the buyer to have.
I've always liked seeing that information, its especially great when its listed in MGA so people have a chance to read it on the screen too. I can't speak to the quality of our auctioneers ;), sometimes we're lucky to have a volunteer, I'm saying that having done it myself.

Table sales are a great way to make sure the buyer is educated about their purchase, and can be cool just to meet new people with similar interests. Worse comes to worse its just another way to socialize with fellow club members.
 

Becca

Chairpersons
Staff member
I'm a bit sad I won't make it to the first edition of Table Sale Saturday. I guess I'll have to make sure I've got some fun stuff ready to go in January.
 

DiscusnAfricans

President
Staff member
Sorry to say, but our next standard meeting marketplace may not be until April. December is the holiday party, January would be a standard auction, February is BFD so we'll have a Sunday Marketplace, likely standard auction in March...
 
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