"Cheapskate Collecting" Partial Transcript


Nov 15, 2003
Reaction score
\"Cheapskate Collecting\" Partial Transcript

Okay, here is the next C3 collecting panel transcript. It is not nearly as complete as the "Collecting 101" transcript, as I only have around 11 minutes of this panel on tape. I would have loved to tape more, but the fates, and the camera's battery were against me.

As always, I have tried to leave it exactly as it was said at the presentation. Corrections I made are marked with "[ ]" however.

Cheapskate Collecting Panel Partial Transcript

(We join the presentation already in progress. Our panelists are Chris Georgoulias, Isaac Lew and Pete Vilmur. Pete has not yet arrived though, so Philippe is filling in for him. Sadly, all together I only have 11 full minutes of this presentation.)

Chris: “[About the cost of items]…I always tell people, “Hey, if you can’t afford to almost throw the money away, you really probably shouldn’t be buying the thing”. So…you can uh…….it’s just like any other budget for home expense or whatever."

Isaac: “There’s lots of good ways you can be a cheapskate. Shopping at Goodwill is one. (This is a reference to a joke Chris made earlier in the speech. Both he and Isaac were wearing blue shirts that had stripes. Chris remarked that they both shopped at the same Goodwill store to save money for collecting) You know, cutting down on expensive dinners or lunches, is a really excellent way, I mean I see people spending $20 on dinner, and to me, that’s sort of like a waste of money. As long as you’re being fed well, that’s good.”

(There is a gap in my tape of this panel here. It picks up again some time later.)

Isaac: (mid sentence) “….[You can] increase your budget without necessarily spending a lot of money, just [work] at saving little amounts of money over time. It really does add up. Especially if you want to save up for a nice big piece. It’s a good way to just develop a budget that will work with you over the long run. It might take a while, but it’ll add up. Also, I know Chris is big into reducing vacations. He always complains about people who are going to go to like Hawaii or other places. Disney World, you know. I mean, that’s nice and you should do it. I mean though, you should also think about putting that money towards like a trip to meet other collectors, or to like, here. It’s a good way to network and meet other people. Vacation lasts only so…..a finite amount of time, so you can expand on that. Meet new people and go on different trips in different ways.”

Pete: (Just arriving for the panel, he was late) “Sorry I’m late folks. My name’s Pete Vilmur. I’m not familiar too much with what you guys have already gone over but if I can add anything I will.”

Chris: (Sarcastically) “Thanks Pete.”

(Laughter from audience)

(referring to slide)

“Pete’s pretty focused on a wide variety of weird items. Maybe we’ll let him over some of these things. (Speaking to Pete) You can probably do it off the top of your head.”

(The panelists go through the suggestions listed on the slide. “Develop a Focus and Determine Collecting Goals”, “Refine your interest overtime and develop a focus that suits you and your budget”. I do not have this segment of the presenetation on tape however, so unfortunately I can not provide an exact transcript.)

Isaac: “…[Networking with other collectors] it goes hand in hand. You’ll meet new and interesting people, you’ll develop friendships….”

(In the audience, John Alvarez makes the sarcastic comment, “Screw the friendships, I’m in it for the toys!” There is muffled laughter from our row.)

“….and you’ll get interesting items for your collection. That otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to get. It works both ways, I mean, you can help someone else and they’ll be able to help you. Chat rooms and collecting clubs are also good ways to meet new people. Even ebay, a lot of people I know have said, “Oh, I know, I sold something to you on ebay before.”, [or] “I bought something from you on Ebay”. Which is a good way to meet the people you’re buying from, meet the people that you’re selling to. It will be a lot more beneficial both in terms of like I said, collecting relationships and friendships, and in items. Be nice and do favors, and you’ll see that you’ll get the same in return.”

Pete: “I’ve found that having friends out there in the field for you, there’s nothing that is better. And actually, returning the favor to those friends is very helpful as well. I’ve got….I pretty much know what all my friends collect, so if I’m Ebay, and I’m in kinda a sideline category that not too many people venture into, and I see something that I think someone might like, I’ll send them the link, just….Ebay makes it real easy. You can just one link, plug in their email address and send it off. And usually they’ll return the favor sometime down the line. It really becomes a very helpful tool.”

Isaac: “I guess that’s about it. If anyone has any questions? Well, before we have questions, I just want to say that these are really good tips, but you have to actually apply them. If you, just sit here and read it (the slides), it’s good, but really try to do it. It’s not that hard. Just really go out there and try to meet new people, don’t be shy. Just go on ebay…..don’t be afraid to buy and sell, and it’s not bad. A lot of people think it’s not good, but, I mean, I guess if you think [that, then] that’s fine. Don’t be….don’t try to flip an item for 100X’s what you bought it for if it’s not worth that. Just be honest, be nice, and you’ll see that you’ll meet new people. [Then] You’ll see that your collecting is going to be on a different level, I mean, it’s not going to just be acquiring Star Wars items, it going to be just building a good collection, and building a good collecting experience, like Chris was saying. Anyway, if anyone has any questions, we’d be happy to take them.”

(Todd Chamberlain raises his hand)

Todd: “I just wanted to add a comment,[relating to] the emphasis on the research side of things. I do think it’s good to leverage things, but don’t just rush into the reselling things until you’ve spent some time [in the hobby] and gotten…. built a strong familiarity of what things really do sell for. Because I know one mistake I made early on was that I’d like go to a show and I’d see what things were priced at, and I’d think, “Oh, that’s what it’s worth” and then I’d find one at a flea market and it [just] seems cheap. Then I’d turn around and try to sell it and find that people, you know, price things at a certain level, but it doesn’t sell. That’s the great advantage of ebay though, is that you can do really solid pricing …( his final word is inaudible, but I assume he said “researching). Generally, an Ebay transaction is actually a closed transaction, not just an asking price, [so, that means that] someone has paid that [for the item. Thus, you have an accurate reference point for what the item’s actual worth is]. So, just send some time, and become familiar with the things that you’re thinking about reselling, before you just kinda launch into it.”

Chris: “That’s our fifth panelist, Todd Chamberlain.”

Pete: “Why aren’t you up here, Todd?”

(Laughter from audience)

Chris: “Philippe? Do you want to share any of your experiences buying and selling? Getting good deals? Philippe’s an international traveler. Philippe has gone to Tunisia, searched all the Star Wars sites. He’s gotten things cheap. But going to Tunisia is not cheap, so I don’t know that selling things you got in Tunisia is gonna help you out, but it’s a fun trip.”

(Panelists wait for more questions, but the audience is silent)

Chris: “Come on, anybody? We’ve got like 25 minutes. We could like……….give out more animation cels or something.” (This is a reference to the fact that there were free Ewoks cels at all of the collecting panels. Everyone in the room already had several of them.)

(Laughter from audience)

Pete: “Can you guys think of any examples of some great finds for cheap prices? That you maybe turned around and sold, or even kept?”

Chris: “Yeah, I did pretty well. I spent a while to get vintage figures, but I bought nearly a complete set of figures from a newspaper ad. It was just a younger guy. It was about 100……it was about the complete vintage set. I was surprised to see even all the latter issue figures, everything complete. And I looked down at the thing, and I thought in my head, “This guy will take $2 a piece, and probably $1 a piece.” I said “$200 for the set”, and he lit up, you know? And I was like, “Man! I could have got it for $100”. So, I mean $200? I sold that set to a dealer for $1700. So, that wasn’t a bad profit, and all of a sudden…(trails off). Like I said, you guys, if you buy and sell smartly…..it’s just like stocks or something. The thing with this stuff, is that you can usually find many documented sales, you’re not working huge price swings. You know, if you see something consistently at a certain price, and then all of a sudden you see it at this lower price. No, I didn’t feel guilty for buying that stuff for $200. I think that some people attach a stigma to buying something and reselling and think, “You know, I’m not a dealer, I’m a collector only”, and I think…. I can sort of understand that, but I think every experienced collector I know, works both ends of the system. I mean, you really have to, and it helps you out in the long term.”

Isaac: “And you can be honest if they ask you…..you should be honest and tell them what it’s worth. But you can also…… with a lot of people, you’ll say, “I think it’s worth $1500, and I’ll give you $1000”, and that’s a $500 difference and usually if they just want to just get rid of it, they’ll be like “Okay”. They don’t have to deal with selling each piece individually, and you were honest with them, and that way they trust you. In the future, they can have more stuff, and they’ll know that you’re a trustworthy person.

Another experience I had like Pete was talking about, a few years ago, there was a person selling a bunch of Return of the Jedi carded figures in pretty good condition. I bought a few of them, and then…..I don’t know if you all are familiar with AFA grading, but uh, I got a few of those graded. I figured they would be in pretty nice condition, and they were. One figure, I bought, for $40, it was the asking price. That’s pretty much what it goes for. I just put it up on ebay, $9.99 starting bid. It ended up selling for $500, just because someone wanted it, you know it was in good condition. So, then you take that money, and you buy another collectable for me, spread it around. $200 going to buying another collection, $200 going to buying something you really want. I definitely keep a lot of stuff. Like we said, we’re not….this isn’t… I mean it’s collecting, it’s not really dealing, but it’s…well maybe you can say it’s collecting/dealing, the end is to fund your collection, if you want to do that full time, than that’s a whole other story You just got to be really into that, it takes a lot of time and effort. With just a little bit of time and effort you can still expand a lot, I think.”

Pete: “I think research really does have a lot to do with it. I found an early 1976 book for 20th Century Fox. It’s basically the first published image for Star Wars. It was printed in, I think, January [1976]. Very few people know about it, but it potentially has a lot of uh…. potentially it can be quite valuable. As I found mine I think for $20 in some sideline category, and several months later, another one came up, and sold for, I think $450 or $500 bucks, because it was presented in the correct category. So, a good trick is finding stuff in areas you would not expect to find it. Turn around, if you’d like to sell it, put it in the correct category, with all the correct buzzwords, “Star Wars” you know, “Empire” whatever. You’ll find you’ll do quite well that way.”

Chris: “Questions?”

Man in audience: (I have tried again and again to hear his question, but for the life of me I can’t quite make it out. He was just too far away from the mic. Here’s the best I can come up with [“What percentage of the price are you uh…..put into buying when you uh…..(inaudible)…..box…. decide (inaudible)….condition(?)”]. Later in the transcript, Chris restates the question as, “How much does packaging add to the overall price?”, so I’m sure that is the meaning of this question, even if I can not provide a verbatim transcript of it in its original form)

Isaac: (answering question) “Um….probably a lot. Because, loose figures you know, I mean, I’m talking vintage. You can find, there are a lot of them. If they’re in the package, they’re worth a lot more obviously. But it’s all about condition, I guess that’s what people are looking at right now. If you’ve got something that’s got a clear bubble, really nice card, really nice package, then you know? People are out there who….., and they don’t mind spending the money because they know it’s in good condition. That’s one way to do it, I think.”

Chris: “I think, I mean, there’s enough documented sales on stuff in packaging, out of packaging, condition range for packaged and unpackaged, that you should be able to find easy concrete sales. I mean, just searching past Ebay auctions. (Chris then details the man’s question, thanks for doing that Chris! It really helps out the people in the audience who are trying to write a verbatim transcript 2 months later!
) His question was like “what fraction of the price…..How much does packaging add to the overall price of it?”. It really depends on the item, condition and completness, it’s a whole run of things. There’s no mystery about all this stuff. (Motioning to exhibitor’s hall) This room back here is full of stuff, and there’s dealers. I mean, I’m sure you can walk through and see one dealer pricing it one way, and another pricing it another way. I mean, you see some guys, I mean if they’ve had it for 4 days, you know, maybe it’s priced too high. I mean, it’s so easy to do research and find out what this stuff resells for. You can see this figure, missing this weapon, in this condition, and Star Wars stuff has been for sale so much and for so long, that you can find almost a complete range…….you don’t have to guess that’s what my point is. You can find completed sales, and from there say…..[that’s how much it’s worth]

(That is the end of my tape of this panel, however, I think that was the last question anyway)

This one only took me a few hours to complete. Compared to this last one, it was like a vacation!

Jul 18, 2001
Reaction score
Re: \"Cheapskate Collecting\" Partial Transcript

Okay, this is weird. Last night I was watching a movie that a friend recommended and loaned me: BASIC, starring John Travolta and his semi-frequent costar Samuel L. Jackson.

In it is a character whose name was annoyingly familiar, and I kept wondering where I had heard it. Now I get on the computer and browse the forums, and here's my answer!

For those of you who haven't seen it yet-- Harry Connick Jr. plays a character named 'Pete Vilmer'.