May 31, 2012

Tophatter: Love It or Hate It?

Tophatter.com
A few months back, I was introduced to Tophatter by a Facebook ad at the Left of the screen. I was immediately thrown into a Live Auction led by a little guy with a mustache and monocle. I couldn't take my eyes off the screen - it was so addictive! I didn't do any actual bidding, but I definitely liked to watch all the action.

I've been keeping an eye on Tophatter.com for awhile, now. I've been watching all sorts of auctions, and even getting in on a little bit of bidding. Recently, I decided to throw in a few of my own items and see how much they sell for. It's definitely been hit and miss, that's for sure.

Now, if you aren't familiar with Tophatter, it's basically a Live Auction website. No, it isn't like eBay where you get to bid on things that take days to finish - it's more like a real auction where the item is presented to you and bought up within just a few minutes - sometimes seconds.

"Lots" come up, the little mustached guy at the podium tells you a little bit about the item - What price it is starting at, how much it is worth (retail), and where it can shipped and for how much. You can click on the item to get details about it, as well as extra photos. You can place a bid on the item, which is usually in increments of $1 to start, and the increments get a little bigger as the bidding progresses. If people stop bidding, it's basically "Going once, going twice, sold!". Just like a real auction, whoever places the last bid will win.

There is "Standby" where items are placed to be potential items in the current auction. Anything in Standby will sit there until someone "Advances" it to the auction by placing the first bid on it. Once somebody bids on the item, it goes to the bottom of the Auction list. If nobody places the first bid, you're out of luck, and the item will not be sold at Auction at that time. Standby usually opens about an hour before the Auction begins, and a few times throughout the Auction as the amount of Lots up for grabs starts getting low.

It doesn't seem to matter what day it is, there are usually quite a few people in the Auctions. Sometimes there are a few auctions at once - Jewelry seems to be the most popular. In the Auction room, crowds can range from just 50 to over 200. I've seen almost 300 people in one room at once. There have been some pretty fierce battles over certain items, and there have been times where people just didn't budge and things were just flying off the shelves to single bidders for only $2 - $5.

A 10% commission is taken from each sale - $1 is the minimum. So if something sells for just $2.00, Tophatter gets half of that. Priority to sell more than one item at a time is mostly given to those who have sold many items at a high price.

The first item I placed up for auction was my Fabricated Heartbeat heart. In my shop, it is worth $55.00 plus shipping. As the bidding began, it was a little slow - but then some cheerleaders hopped into the action. I didn't even know these people, but they praised my heart like there was no tomorrow! The bidding got a little more fierce and then closed at $42.00. Not too bad for my first auction! It must have been luck, though...

Now. That was during a Jewelry auction just after dinner - probably around 7:30PM Eastern Time. It was a totally different experience selling the same heart at 2AM in the Night Owl Bazaar. The same heart sold for only $22 - and that was with a $20 starting bid. I was rather disappointed. The same thing happened at a few different auctions. Different items, but low selling prices.

It's strange to say, but the items that seem to do the best are the mass produced ones. You know, the lockets and charms that you can just throw together with some chains, beads, danglies, or gears... something pretty or shiny or sparkly. It's quite sad to me because most of these things are something you would often see for wholesale prices on eBay or Alibaba, and for just pennies.

It's the handmade things that seem to sell the worst. People just don't seem to see the value in handmade when it comes to Auction sites. My advice to those who want to sell handmade on Tophatter? Create something that is easy to make many of and something that is less labour intensive and requires the least amount of materials. Because when that sculpture that you worked hours on sells for just 5 bucks - you're going to be heartbroken. Nobody can see how much time and effort you put into something - only you are the one who knows that.  The auction can last seconds to just a few minutes - most of it will be impulse bidding, and folks just won't take the time to read the description. Pictures mean everything on this site, and although people may "Ooooo" and "Ahhhhh" your Lot until the cows come home, that doesn't mean they are going to pay up.

My diagnonsense? Wholesalers, resellers, and destashers - Tophatter.com may be for you. Handmade sellers? Forget it... Unless you have a high starting bid or you can make something small, quick, clever, and appeals to the masses - for pennies. Lockets seem to be hot right now. Any locket, really. Stick something in it, glue stuff to it, and call it steampunk. There you go. Instant $30 - $40 right there.

So what do you guys think? Tophatter - Love it? Or Hate it?

31 comments:

  1. I'll have to go see it. It sounds like a place to buy stuff, not sell it. Thank you for letting me know about it, I have to admit, I'd never heard of it before.

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  2. HATE it as a seller, LOVE it as a buyer....But yea I noticed the same thing, stuff that I can buy for $3 or less at Walmart was selling for $22+ while my handmade jewelry wasn't even making the cut. I deleted my profile after 3 weeks of seeing the same sellers being able to post 3-4 items in the same auction, pushing the little people to the bottom of the list. Rather sad...

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    1. Couldn't agree more! Definitely a buyers market. I scored a few nice things, but I actually started visiting the sellers store link instead of purchasing in auction - just because I know that their stuff is definitely worth more than what it sells for.

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  3. hate tophatter. Lots of sellers are selling fakes there and also people are getting robed. Seller sells a bunch of high end jewellery for cheap and then never sends anything then dispears with your money. He had good feedback, but it was all fake sales from fake buyers with fake feedback.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. I received everything I bought and shipped everything I sold over the last 2-3 weeks. I must say that my experiences as buyer have been much better than my experiences as a seller, but I believe there is a learning curve here and I jumped in too soon without learning more.
      (sorry, had to correct a big type)

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  4. My non-handmade doesn't even sell because it isn't jewelry. :( I quit the website because most of what is promoted is jewelry.

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  5. So as a seller, can you place a reserve on your items? If you aren't familiar with that term, it means you put the lowest price you are willing to let it go for, and if it doesn't go for at least that price, it has to be pulled from auction. So, is reserve pricing allowed?

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    1. Ummmm, I don't think you can set a Reserve. Atleast I don't think it was an option the last time I used it. But you can start the bidding at a higher price.

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    2. I know you asked this question a while back, but I couldn't resist answering this for you. They do not have reserve pricing like ebay, where they start the bidding super low and if it doesn't reach the reserve price it doesn't sell. They do have the option to start the price at whatever you want. They do tell you just to make sure that you set your starting price at the lowest you are ok with selling it. I have seen auctions that started at $1 and then others that start at $50 or more and everything in between. I LOVE Tophatter, and have started selling a lot of stuff there. You may not like the fees of the featured auctions, but if you go for the daily bazaar, early bird bazaar, or supplies and sell during peak hours you can make pretty good money. It takes patients sometimes to get your lot into an auction, but well worth it when you do.

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    3. Thanks for the tips, I had one item that was FEATURED and sold for 5.00, but I was floored with the 1.25 fee, however, I did my own auction and the fees were very low. I will try out the bazaars to see if that works better for me.

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  6. What about estae items? I have noticed some things that are estate related (other then jewelrty) that do fairly well. What about non-payments and the like, is that stuff policed at all?

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    1. I'm not sure! I've never been to any estate auctions. I have had a few problems with non-payment, but then you just cancel the sale after a few days if that happens. There is always that chance.

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  7. I sold on there for a while. I found some nice quality beads for a good price and made some good money. I tryed selling my handmade candles on there and the were barely looked at. I gave up on it. I never had a problem with people not paying though.

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  8. I am a seller on TopHatter and things have changed ..yes Handmade is few and far between due to low bids.

    TopHatter has implemented new policies so it will soon be harder for scammers to jip buyers.

    My advice is if you are going to lay down big buck do not do it on a new seller. Checking seller profile on their feedback is what I do when I purchase an item.

    Yes mass produced items are plentiful but in between you have your Coach Purses...Glow Lockets...Genuine Gemstone Jewelry.

    You get a $10 credit on your first purchase...Id say experience for yourself.

    Keep in mind that this site is 1 year old..Still in the toddler stages :). They are constantly working on improvements ...keep them in your favorites and check back often.

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  9. I buy a lot of items from this site. You should see my Pay Pal account. What I pay attention to, because it is a pet peeve of mine, are the shipping costs. I always make mental note of what the shipping cost was when I see the envelope come in. Most of the sellers are making money on the shipping. I agree that handmade items except some jewelry does not sell well. The time I put into making even my mass produced greeting cards- I wouldn't be able to handle getting 5 dollars for 5 of them when I sell them retail for 4 dollars a piece.

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    1. I dunno - maybe the sellers of cheap Asian costume jewelry are ----- I listed a 15$ painting just for kicks - they charged me $2.75 just to see if it would get an inaugural bid on the 'to be added' list -to get promoted to the actual auction. The site takes 10% of the final sale.

      To me - the site is for people who don't live in a big city where you can buy cheap jewelry and a pseudo-wholesaler

      all the best

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  10. I have purchased many things from tophatter and before I bid on anything I try to find it elsewhere to see what the actual going price is. In this way I can stop my bidding if the price goes higher than I can get it otherwise. I use paypal because they are the safest way to get buyer protection. I have never not gotten a product and have learned a lot just by watching and learning what something is worth. It is a lot of fun, people are usually nice, and I have liked some, loved some, and had 1 I was disappointed in but I did not read the whole description so it was my fault. I think in this case you must be careful and as they say with any purchase...let the buyer beware :) I sometimes just go to watch, but I agree it is a buyers market and I will definitely check out the ones Debbie mentioned above!

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    1. I agree with you... I have NEVER had a problem with any items I bought, or sold. The 1 time I was disappointed in a purchase was because I had not read the details completely, so it was my fault. I still like and use TH.

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  11. Please note - I had to delete a bunch of comments that were bickering back and fourth. Please stick to the topic at hand - this isn't a place for spamming and free advertising for your website. If you would like me to review your auction website, please feel free to contact me at monster_kookies@hotmail.com so I may write out an entry about it and encourage people to discuss it. <3 Kookie

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    1. We werent spamming or looking for free advertising...you need to get that right! Nor were we looking for you to review our auction site...we were just responding to a post claiming something that was not true and that you allowed to be posted here even though it had nothing to do with the topic at hand!

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    2. Unfortunately, I didn't actually see her comment until I got all the e-mail notifications of replies to it. Lol. I have a bad habit of not checking comments as often as I should, so I appologize. Her comment was deleted at the time as well. :)

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  12. now Tophatter change a looot.
    is huge feeees, and unfair rules.
    sellers arefrustrated. 2.75 sheduling fee for bazaars even if item is unsold.
    I is sale you need to pay additional 13%
    and they require tracking information, what is for european sellers too high to offer items there.
    just canadian sellers doesnt need tracking....!
    that is no fair...

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  13. i have found that the items that they are selling... are the same products that if you spend a few minutes browsing the internet you can find at a much lower price...the hype of bidding on these items makes the price go up...like a necklace that i watched go for in the twenty range...i found it at aropostle for seven dollars EXACT same necklace...i think people just get excited about the bidding and lose thought of what the items is really worth...it you really want a item just spend a few minutes looking for it on line..

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  14. Actually , as a buyer, I have been able to get incredible buys. Tophatter can go either way though. I have seen some items that are plated sell for astronomical amounts of money and other gorgeous sterling silver or gold filled pieces of jewelry sell for pennies on the dollar. I have purchased many jewelry making supplies at below wholesale prices and I have seen the same items sell for ridiculous amounts of money. Tophatter is a fun site that just like any other auction site the number one rule is ," Let the buyer beware. " You do have built in buyer's protection when you pay by PayPal . I have had to use that a few times. Most sellers are wonderful people at Tophatter, but occasionally you will find a few bad apples and that is when the PayPal protection comes in handy. Tophatter does try to make sure that only good sellers participate and they control bad sellers by limiting their selling ability. When buyers leave negative feedback regarding a bad transaction the seller , especially if they are new to Tophatter , will not be able to sell for a significant period of time. If I had to say love or hate, it would have to be love because I have had way more positive buying experiences at Tophatter than negative ones.

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  15. If you want to see the best stuff on Tophatter you need to go to the Community Auctions that never appear on the main page. Here is the link
    http://jcstore.biz/tophatter.php#.Ub3tXOc4u5L
    This is where the real sellers are and there are amazing deals to be had on REAL stuff!
    Share the link with your friends!

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  16. if you want to buygarbage go to tophatter, same thing for buyers you want to sell them good quality and they reject your items then someone else list a piece that cost in Ebay @2.00 and people buy willinly actually I think that buyers are more ignnorants than sellers.

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  17. I bought "sterling silver" chains that turned out to be filled with lead, and a 14k stamped gold ring that was fake. They turn a blind eye to a lot of fraudulent sales.

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  18. HATE HATE HATE TOPHATTER!!! I sold there for approx 4 months. I have sold on ebay since 2005 (eight years!) and never received any negative feedback (at present 1108 points with 100% positive!). Anyway, I came up with some innovative ideas for my private auctions on TH...and they STOLE THEM! Read the small print...it's their prerogative. Then, I was SHUT OUT of their mainstream auctions. When Sellers complained about this practice in the Friday "Meetings", we were told..."Sorry, this is not a democracy". EVIL and SELFISH. Hate 'em.

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  19. TH is quite simply the example of the WORST customer service I have ever experienced! They are in the habit of finding sellers, allowing them to schedule auctions at first, and as soon as a highly profitable item is sold, TH bans the seller and begins purchasing the same merchandise that their staff (like Paige Wattington) will begin selling it! The owners of Tophatter owned Blippy first, then Heartsy, and now Tophatter. As of 12/13/13 the CEO (Ashvin Kumar) listed himself as the owner of Blipify. Looks like there's another bankruptcy in the works leaving people high and dry! Take if from experience, don't get tangled up with TH!

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    ReplyDelete