The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted retail along with all facets of everyday life. Online shopping is no exception, but how are diehard collectors coping? And how is it impacting online sellers and antiques dealers?
We checked in with Palmer Pekarek to find out what changes he’s seeing at antiques & collectibles marketplace Ruby Lane.
Sales are steady on Ruby Lane as shoppers are seeking items that provide comfort – specifically, nostalgic items such as dolls and anything doll related. Other items that bring back memories of yesteryear are doing well, including fun games from the 50s, 60s, 70s; vintage barware, and jewelry. (It sounds like some people are living it up as they work from home!)
Pekarek said items that have price points under $750 are selling more right now, and some of the larger and more expensive items are taking a little more time to sell as people are being cautious about big-ticket spending – which he referred to as $7,500-plus.
As for Ruby Lane dealers, Pekarek said shop owners are bringing more inventory online. In addition to shop owners devoting more time to their online shops, Ruby Lane is seeing new sellers on the site.
“We have seen new and exciting listings come to the site. We believe shop owners are taking Spring Cleaning to a new level and seem to be discovering hidden treasures tucked away in storage closets at home.”
Possibly helping Ruby Lane attract more inventory is the fact it doesn’t charge listing fees. It also recently announced a reduction in maintenance fees for April and May to relieve some of the stress shop owners might be experiencing. “While this is an important revenue stream for Ruby Lane, we anticipate we will have options for special short-term small business loans to keep operations going due to this loss in revenue,” the company had told sellers in its announcement.
FedEx, USPS and UPS are still working around the clock to pick-up and deliver items to buyers, Pekarek said, but shipping large items such as furniture is taking a little longer than usual due to “Shelter in Place” restrictions.
Sellers are taking safety measures when packing and shipping items, he said, and home pickup of items has been very helpful in keeping shop owners at home and healthy.
Asked how the COVID-19 outbreak impacted Ruby Lane itself, Pekarek said the team has worked from their respective home offices for over 20 years, and they continue to work every day of the week.
“Our entire team is working to keep sellers selling and buyers buying – this has been a time of creative solutions.” In addition to the discounted monthly maintenance fees for sellers, he said Ruby Lane brought discounted shipping programs back to the forefront for sellers.
We asked what advice Ruby Lane could offer sellers dealing with the current challenges. “Keep listing items and work your shop from the safety of your home. For many of our sellers, this is a full time occupation, staying safe and healthy is the most important path to follow. Be patient, we believe that sales will return to higher levels in the not so distant future.”
When looking ahead to September 2020, what does Ruby Lane expect to see when it comes to online shopping, and online selling?
“We believe more sellers will be online selling than ever before,” Pekarek said. “Some brick and mortar shops will move their operations out of traditional spaces to online marketplaces. Many buyers and sellers have realized that ordering online (from groceries and collectibles to paint and clothing) is easy, safe, and alleviates the need to fight traffic and crowds. It also saves unnecessary overhead costs.
“Our greatest hope, however, is that life returns to a place that welcomes socialization and promotes good health.”