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Feature/Interview: Collector Perspectives

Collector Perspectives

Recently, I conducted an interview with a group of people known as Collector Perspectives.  While having been working in the collection industry since 1976, they have a blog dedicated to sharing the unique insights that collectors have to offer.

For those of you who don’t know, a collector is anyone who collects, well, just about anything. This ranges from typically collected materials such as comics and baseball cards to rather obscure things like Victorian-era children’s books. The range of what can be collected is only limited by the thoughts of what a collector thinks can be collected. Using that logic, we can deem that anything and everything is collectible!

Collector’s Perspectives will allow you as a reader (and a potential collector) to get better insight into the collecting industry as well as tips, tricks and rules for collecting.

Below you will find in full the interview I conducted with two of the members behind the scenes of Collector Perspective, as well as a link to the blog. I urge any readers who come across this piece to go and check it out.

  1. So, can you give us an idea of what you guys are all about and the mission statement behind your site?

Carrie, Collector Perspectives Managing Editor: Collector Perspectives is a blog project sponsored by American Collectors Insurance.

Laura, VP of Marketing, American Collectors Insurance: American Collectors has been insuring collector vehicles and collectibles for over 35 years and employs a number of passionate collectors who love to talk about the hobby. The company also has many connections in the collecting industry, and many of our own policyholders are experts and passionate hobbyists who love to share their stories – so a blog seemed like a natural way of sharing these conversations with a bigger audience and giving other collectors access to professional advice and opinions.

Carrie: The blog is written by a panel of independent contributors who are all experts in their own collector niches, and also contributed to occasionally by American Collectors employees. It’s managed by a third party to ensure editorial integrity.

Collectors have a lot in common, whether they choose to curate Barbie dolls, comic books, sports memorabilia, action figures, or something else entirely. Collector Perspectives seeks to highlight this common ground and give collectors the information they need to keep the hobby growing.

2. Your website states that it “provides unique perspectives and opinions”. Do you feel there is a place or niche in the world of online collecting where collectors need expert opinions on the things they collect?

Carrie: Prior to launching the blog we conducted extensive online research as well as surveying American Collectors collectibles policyholders who were happy to share their thoughts and opinions on their hobbies (particularly when it came to online resources and news publications.) Collectors were clearly hungry for information from reputable sources and some were having a lot of trouble finding it easily.

 

While there’s not a shortage of great books and websites that cover collectibles, we did find a lack of consistency in terms of quality and accessibility of information across different collector niches, especially online. It also seemed that on the whole collectors were living in a very fragmented universe – and we know from experience that the collector world is vast and interesting. While there are people whose collecting is focused in one niche, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are blind to or uninterested in other stories about collectors and their unique collections. Collector Perspectives creates quality content that is both useful and interesting to just about any collector.

There are some great examples out there of collector community sites that bring together lots of different collector types, but we wanted to bring in the expert angle to directly connect collectors with professionals who could give them really good advice and answer their questions directly – and in doing so, maybe help out another collector as well. You won’t find a large scale focus on just one collection type at the site. It will be a plethora of information running a wide gamut. Our goal is to join the ranks of collector groups who offer engaging content, are active on social media, and who are interested in having a two-way conversation with their audience.

3. Do you feel the demographic of collectors gets placed in a particularly niche image of an obsessive hoarder? Can you tell us why or why not?

Carrie: I don’t get this impression. Look at the success of events like Comic Con and TV shows like the Toy Hunter and American Pickers, and even the overall trend we’re seeing of people trying to simplify, reuse, repurpose, and repair – antique and flea markets are more popular than ever, and vintage clothing and décor is huge on sites like Pinterest. Any negative hoarder stigma attached to collecting by some is completely overshadowed by these positive activities and interests. I think people who know collectors or who are collectors themselves know that they’re some of the most interesting people to have a conversation with, because they’re always full of historical facts and “did you know?” details about each piece they’ve collected. They’re fascinating – and so many of us are collectors without even realizing.

4. Are there specific things your blog focuses on or is it just an all-encompassing look at the collecting industry?

Carrie: We try to focus on stories that are interesting to a wide audience and include insights and anecdotes that any collector can relate to, while still allowing contributors to talk about what they have a passion for. For example, Buddy Scalera of ComicBookSchool.com wrote a post for us about the comic book and action figure collection he amassed as a kid, and how as an adult he thought it had been lost forever. It was a great story, and you could relate to it as a collector even if you didn’t specifically collect comic books. Almost every collector has that story of an item or entire collection that got away (and maybe came back again). I had an original vinyl pressing of The Clash’s “London Calling” about 15 years ago that got lost in multiple moves and I still hold out hope that it will resurface unexpectedly someday!

5. Is there anything that affects the collector’s market on a greater scale (i.e. cost) or is there no danger of affectation to the industry whatsoever?

Laura: Absolutely. There are always going to be elements affecting the collector’s market. Most of the time, it’s influenced by shifting interests and trends of the public.  There are two key factors I can think of right away, the first of which is relevance.  A collectible can be relevant from a historical standpoint or even have pop culture significance.  Many people’s interests are piqued due to a link of a current event to a previous time or it could be something as simple as a major anniversary date. Collectibles increase over time because they are harder and harder to find or purposely limited from the start AND people have a connection to those items. There are plenty of rare things out there with little to no value because the connection is missing.

This plays right into the “shifting interests of the public” factor. So many people start collecting what they loved as a child. As they get older and have more influence on the collector market, their interests reflect popular collection types. Free Comic Book Day and Record Store Day are great examples of how up and coming collector events have influenced the hobby.  Trading cards are a great example of a trend we are seeing.  Baseball cards exploded in the ‘90s due to the overwhelming popularity of the hobby. Values went through the roof but too much variety and a quickly flooded marketplace caused struggles shortly thereafter. Now, the same kids who were excited during the ‘90s are back to collecting, and the industry is seeing growth thanks to low production quantities and interesting pieces.

6.  What do you feel is the biggest (as in most largely done AND popular) element of the collection industry?

Laura: For so many people their collection develops as an extension of their personal interests and passions. The items people collect have a true personal significance and quite often the nostalgic feeling they evoke from a collector is where the true value lies. A vintage GI Joe with the kung fu grip may bring you right back to the moments of your youth, while for another person, a piece of militaria keeps the memories of a loved one fresh and vivid.

7. What kinds of factors do you guys as collectors typically take into account when considering a purchase?

Carrie: I collect vinyl records and don’t really look for items based on value or price. I think a lot of collectors who don’t necessarily consider themselves investors do the same – you just seek out things that “speak” to you. I love records because I love music and the big sleeves, the cover art, reading the liner notes and the lyrics. I’ll check out the condition of an item and if I don’t know enough about it, I’ll Google it on my phone to decide if the price is right. I bought a Pixies record on Record Store Day this year that I had never seen before – the store was crowded so I didn’t have time to look it up. When I got home I started doing some research, going from UK record label “Tensionesque” – which turned out to be fake – to learning that my record was supposedly one of only 500 black vinyl bootlegs produced by a CA outfit – with an awesome screen printed cover to boot. It wasn’t worth a lot, but I enjoyed uncovering and tracking the back story and it’s a great addition to my collection.

Laura: I see myself as more of a generalist with the items I buy. Price will always affect what I wind up purchasing but there are the occasions I find myself splurging. I will also consider the condition of the item I want related to what I expect it should be in.  For example, if I want an item over 30 years old, I tend to view “perfect” a little differently than I would a limited edition item made last week. Overall, I collect things that remind me of my childhood but also tend to grab a few things related to the interests cultivated over my adult life. Everything I have has a story behind what it means to me.

8. Do you think that your website will be able to get enough people interested in the collecting industry provided the site itself gets bigger promotion?

Carrie: That’s the hope. We have a nice base of really engaged collectors and hope that more and more will find useful information on the blog and share it with their friends. We’re always looking for new contributors and partners to help spread the word and support the hobby.

9. Have you guys ever gotten the perspective of any major celebrities for your site? For instance, Nicholas Cage has been shown to be a collector of comic books by the press. Basically, do ever get any celebrity opinions or articles?

Carrie: I’m not sure this would be a goal of ours at the moment. It’s interesting, but we’d leave that to big publishers and more mainstream publications for now.

10.   The site says you’ve been working with American Collectors since 1976. How do you think the nature of collecting and the people who collect has changed since then?

Carrie: The blog is sponsored by American Collectors and also contributed to by the company. The blog started in July 2013, but American Collectors has been in business since 1976.

END INTERVIEW:

Go check out http://collectorperspectives.com/ today!

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