Official Blog of the Tophatter Auction House
I need your help! When I have an item on the block, I get so nervous that I bet you could see my avatar’s knees knocking! So I’m already a bundle of nervousness and then I’m expected to type all sorts of things about my item to get people interested in buying it? I’m lucky to remember my name at that point, and forget typing! What advice can you give me for when my item is on the block? I want to be successful, but my brain keeps freezing up on me!
Nervous on Nantucket
That’s a good question! I’m glad you asked! As you may already know, I have no problem when it comes to chatting - on or off of the block! So, I’m happy to share some tips with you!
If you get nervous when you’re up on the block, here’s what you should do…have some information typed up and ready to go ahead of time. That way, you can copy and paste it into the chat window for everyone in the auction to see. The key is to keep the answers short & concise. This will also help get you some additional time on the auction block! That’s right - if you have an item on the block and plenty to tell people about, then you the clock is prolonged for just a little bit.
I found this great post on Etsy that has a lot of questions that your buyers may like the answers to. I’m going to repeat the questions for you, but I’m going to try to help you think about them in Tophatter terms.
Questions for when you’re on the block:
1. What is it? Yes, there’s a picture of it on the right side of the screen, but assume that the folks in the room still can’t tell. Just give them a nice reminder of what you’re selling.
2. What color is it, really? We ALL know that cameras play nasty tricks on us sometimes, and, the blingier the item, the harder it is to get a great picture of it! So, yes, the folks in the room can see that it’s a purple scarf, but tell me MORE! What shade of purple? Lilac? Lavender? Let us know!
3. What size is it? Yes, while your listing may already say that the ring is a size 7, and you did include that in the title of the listing, it’s always wise to mention it again. I encourage you not to assume that everyone saw the size or read the listing. I’m as guilty as everyone else when it comes to forgetting to read the listing.
4. What is it made of? Yes, I do want to know how many polyesters you killed to make that suit! (We could all use a little more Steve Martin in our lives!)
5. Who is this for? Is that crocheted hat perfect for everyone? Or, is it premade for someone who is in the pre-K set? Or is it something perfect for my Great Aunt Sally to wear when she hops on her Vespa to go play Canasta with the ladies?
6. What do I do with it? If it’s not obvious, tell me! For example, I’ve seen a vintage Melmac lunch tray in Standby for some of the auctions. I know this might be sacrilege, but the first thing I think of when I see those? SLED! We don’t get much ice or snow in Texas, so when we do, we improvise. I went to school in the Hill Country, and, when we did get ice, you’d better believe some trays disappeared from the Commons that day!
7. How does it feel? Make us feel it! Tell me how ooey and gooey and wonderful your cookies are! Make my mouth water! We don’t have Smell-O-Vision hooked up on Tophatter just yet, so you have to make sure you really appeal to the other senses; that is, to the best of your ability!
8. How does it work? In some cases, does it work? Is that pocketwatch purely ornamental? Will it keep time, but very slowly? Is this the perfect timepiece for when I want to go back in time?
9. Why is yours better than anyone else’s? Remember that we’re all friends here! Please don’t tell me that yours is better than Frida’s and then rattle off a list of reasons why her item is inferior. Let me know what you did that makes your item superior! The beads in that bracelet? You bought them when you took that year off and backpacked across Europe? They were a thank you from a kind woman who made them herself? Tell us that!
10. Do I get all items pictured? Do I get all 743 beads in that picture (yes, I counted them)? Or are they all there because 743 beads looks prettier than 10 in a picture? Remember that sometimes we accidentally skim through descriptions and may miss something; so, please let us know!
11. What if I get them and just don’t like them? Do you have a way for me to let you know they aren’t what I thought they might be? If the necklace I bought from you happens to break, what do I do? We all plan on being wowed by the item when it gets to us, but sometimes it happens and it’s all beyond our control.
12. Any more special things to know? Is this custom? One of a kind? How does it come packaged (gift wrapped? plain paper wrapper?)?
13. Do you ship it from your house? If it’s drop-shipped, please let me know. If I see that you’re in New Jersey somewhere, that’s where I’ll expect a package from. I don’t mind if you’re drop-shipping it to me from China, but please let me know that I will be getting a package sent from there. Some countries require me to pick packages up at the Post Office, so I would love knowing I have a trip there in my future.
14. Assuming it’s with you in your house, are there any special considerations? Do you have 19 cats and 10 dogs? Do you smoke? Yes, that might mean some people won’t bid on it, but most people who are ultra-sensitive about things like this have allergies or sensitivities that make life more complicated. If I receive something that I didn’t realize came from a smoker, I have to hide it away somewhere for a few days to let the smell dissipate. Nothing personal, that’s just who I am.
15. Not so much a question, but a statement. Remember that you want me to buy this item! Sell it to me! Tell me why I need this and why I just have to buy it.
A final thought…There are specialty auctions on the site with special niche audiences who will want a little extra information:
If you’re in a Vintage or Antiques auction, tell people where you got it, how old it is, and anything else special you can find out about the item. If you need help searching for more information, you can email me!
If you’re in Edibles or Bath & Beauty, remember that you have to list the allergens in your items. Let everyone know what they are and feel free to mention any other wonderful and special ingredients.
If you’re in any of the Artisan (Handmade) auctions, let everyone know how much time and effort went into making the piece! Time is love - and tell them how much love you put in as well.
These are just examples, and I know there are other specialty and staple auctions out there. Think of those special questions you might need to answer on the spot. Add it to your document! Save it! Then, when it’s time to go on the block, you’ve got the information right in front of you. And, when you’ve done that, your time on the auction block will as simple as a cut and paste!