Buying Pipes on Auction for Immediate Resale?

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pruss

Preferred Member
Feb 6, 2013
3,512
220
Mytown
I have bought many pipes, and lots of pipes, with the sole intention of reselling them.

Sometimes I would buy lots of estates to clean and re-home; other times I would buy lots of NOS to move onto new pipe smokers. On occasion there would be a pipe or two in the lot that I fully intended to refurb for my own collection. But more often than not the intention in the purchase and the reselling was to finance my own PAD, TAD and purchase of tools and materials to refurb more pipes.

It was a worthy practice, for although I never went pro (or semi-pro) with the refurb thing, I managed to pay for all my pipes and tobacco through the years by doing so. Sadly, I couldn't bring the shop with me to NZ, so it was passed on to two other pipe folk who do their own refurbs.

-- Pat
 
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tschiraldi

Preferred Member
Dec 14, 2015
1,783
3,383
52
Ohio
I have, a few times. Occasionally a pipe will be listed incorrectly, like Dunghill instead of Dunhill, and you're able to get it for much less than if listed correctly. Other times, an auction will end and a weird time, like 2:00am on a Wednesday. Same thing. The snipers are asleep. If I can pick up an old Comoy's pipe in good condition for $15 and I know I can get $50 or more for it, why not?
 
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ssjones

Moderator
Staff member
May 11, 2011
15,964
4,406
Maryland
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Like Pruss, I buy pipes all the time, with solely the intent on reselling them. 99% need restored, which I enjoy doing (and then documenting on the Reborn Pipes blog). Whatever profit I realize goes to fund pipes I'm seeking for my collection. This is how I funded my current collection.

This also gives me the opportunity to work on pipes that I would otherwise never purchase for myself (brand, shape, era, etc.).

All the big ebay pipe resellers buy and restore pipes for resale (some don't even restore them). The Secondhand smoker, etc surely isn't finding all the pipes they put up for sale in their hometown.

I always clean my purchases (as part of the restoration), using my techniques, so to the best of my ability, I know it will smoke well.
 
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DAR

Senior Member
Aug 2, 2020
345
1,042
Tiburon, California
I have done that with 2 Ser Jacopo Hawkbills and a couple of Petersons. I see pipes that are not being bid on because they were not in the correct category or because the photos and descriptions are so bad that no one wants to touch the listing and I keep an eye on them to see if they will sell or not.
Iv'e ended up with 2 SJ Hawkbills at different times because no one was bidding on them. I paid $98 for one and $75 for the other one. Both in excellent and smokable condition with little use. I ended up immediately taking decent photos and re-listing them with a detailed and knowledgable description since I have a Ser Jacopo Hawkbill and don't need another. One sold for $202 and the other for $175.
My advice to ebay sellers......... find your listing once you post it to make sure it's all good, take better photos, check to make sure your pipe didn't end up in the "plumbing pipes" section and describe your pipes with more than just a few words.
 
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newbroom

Preferred Member
Jul 11, 2014
5,856
3,489
When I found out how to smoke a pipe, and started learning more about them and what goes inside 'em, I had been 'just retired' about a year, and I became enthralled.
I 'won' a couple of very, very modest pipe auctions and got the idea that it was fun to search out 'good buys' with the idea that I could easily re-coup by reselling on the 'bay'....well...I bought pipes and accessories like a drunken sailor for about 2 or 3 years...and had a blast learning about them, cleaning them up, polishing stems, and of course trying every sort of tobacco I could get my hands on.
I figure, now, I'll just hang on to all the pipes till serendipity occurs and I might move them out for a profit or a loss, but for now, they're my 'collection'.
I mean, I got nice pipe buys! I got, for instance, both a Sav Trevi 616 and an Ascorti LaSavanella Dublin for a total of $20.
Pipes from the world over! Such fun!
I've given several away as gifts and enticements to smoke them, but I haven't sold a one!
 
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john019

Member
Jul 19, 2018
140
37
That might be true except these are two different auction platforms (the first wasn't eBay), so it's very likely they have very different audiences, and it's also very likely that the pipes will sell for approximately double on eBay. It certainly might be a 'flip' for purely monetary reasons.
Many eyes roam eBay, so depending on what platform you bought it on, say Etsy, then if you got it at a decent price, then you might be able to turn a profit. Just remember with the eBay, there are fees on fees, and then a couple of more fees (regardless of what eBay will tell you, plan on 15%), and then shipping. Also, if you put "Or Best Offer" tag on it, get ready for low-ball offers. You could have it listed for a penny, and someone will try to talk you down. Actually, I buy several of the pipes I sell on eBay, clean them up, and relist them, and turn a profit. So it is possible.
 
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ssjones

Moderator
Staff member
May 11, 2011
15,964
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Maryland
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Possible to make some fine deals, earn a bit of scratch, but nobody makes real money in this arena. Nor holding pipes as an "investment".
That would defend on your definition of real money.

Great Estate has over 15,000 sales over an 18 year span. At say $100 average per pipe, that is $1.200,000, which works out to $68,900 annually. Several other big pipe sellers have even more sales.
 
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Ahi Ka

Preferred Member
Feb 25, 2020
2,620
8,705
Aotearoa (New Zealand)
If by real money you mean enough to pay for regular bills and put food on the table then I think it is possible to some extent. The biggest hurdle would be finding a consistent source of pipes outside of eBay/wherever you are listing them for sale.

If by real money you mean completely financing your pipe smoking hobby - all TAD, PAD and restoration work tools/expenses then it is definitely possible.

technically, any pipe purchased with the intent of flipping it should be charged income tax on the profit margin. Correct me if I am wrong, but I get the sense that by real money you mean a viable alternative to a decent paying job. If this is the case then taxes would definitely need to be included into the equation.

I think that the only long term option then would be establishing yourself as a business and with credibility - like a few of our members have done - and then sell pipes on consignment. Your profit per pipe (assuming you don’t restore these behind a quick clean up) would be around half the value of what you paid for it. If you can crack the high end pipe market then that would add up quickly
 
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Ahi Ka

Preferred Member
Feb 25, 2020
2,620
8,705
Aotearoa (New Zealand)
I’m not familiar with Great Estate, but with the figures mentioned above it would certainly be easy enough to turn the work out behind restoring and selling those pipes as a one man band.
 

ssjones

Moderator
Staff member
May 11, 2011
15,964
4,406
Maryland
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Talking about an individual, Al, no employees to pay, no taxes. There is no one.
Great Estate is one person. I'm sure with his volume, those Ebay sales are reportable. Same for Rob Cooper (coopersark). I doubt they clear $50k, if that's the definition or real money. TheSecondHandSmoker, is also a big power seller, but he works with his son.
 
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jpmcwjr

Moderator
Staff member
May 12, 2015
19,127
13,660
Carmel Valley, CA
833 pipes a year/52 weeks=16 pipes per week to restore, clean, advertise, photograph, address, box and ship, invoice, followup, keep records, pay freakin' taxes. Yeah, possible but what a grind!

Thanks for the info.
 
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john019

Member
Jul 19, 2018
140
37
It would seem foolish to me unless you recognized for having value but was so poorly listed by a guy with no real reputation for selling such an item. Maybe then you might get a pipe cheap enough to make a profit after offsetting for eBay fees for sale. But I don't think so.
I've bought Savinellis for $5 a pipe, and the only thing I've had to do was give them a light cleaning. Scored a couple of Dunhills in different lots for around $15. I try to go after lots, and try not to pay more then $10 a pipe. There has been a few times where I've gone as high as $30, but not often.
 
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john019

Member
Jul 19, 2018
140
37
833 pipes a year/52 weeks=16 pipes per week to restore, clean, advertise, photograph, address, box and ship, invoice, followup, keep records, pay freakin' taxes. Yeah, possible but what a grind!

Thanks for the info.
That it is, but once you hit a rhythm, you'd be surprised how many pipes you can get listed.
 
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