Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Online Bottle Store

American Bottle Auctions new online bottle store has sure started a flurry of comments and discussions. Over at the sale site ( ) there is certainly nothing new or innovative about the sale of antique bottles.
Heck, Old West Bottles ( ), Oregon Trail Antique Bottles ( ) and the Western Whiskey Gazette ( ) , just to mention a few, all have for sale pages or items for sale from time to time.

These sale pages have been popular with the collecting community for years. For the perspective buyer the sale page gives you the fixed price of the bottle and the advantage of being an anonymous buyer. The fact that there is no buyers premium on the bottle you purchase is very attractive to the potential buyer. On a high end bottle the premium can be as much as the cost of another collectable bottle to put on your shelf. Some of these for sale sites even give you the option of making an offer on a fixed price bottle. Something that rarely happens at an online or live auction.

The online sale pages are a no-brainer for the person that runs the online sale site. How about not having to submit an advertisement to all of the bottle publications and  pay for that advertisement, no expensive auction catalogs to have printed and pay for and then pay the postage to mail them to perspective bidders. World wide online exposure of the items you have for sale multiplies your chances of selling the item for YOUR sale price.

Comments on the new ABA sale site have been mixed to say the least and range from:
 " exciting new format. Plusses and minuses. We need variety"
 " Jeff sure likes to toy with us bottle nuts ;) " .
 " I’ve picked up four or so extraordinary bottles from Jeff’s new sale page. Missed some too "
 " Scratching my head however at the defensiveness of Mr. Wichmann, at the suggestion of just auctioning the bottles, so everyone ends up on a level playing field. After all, he’s proven that he does quite well as a bottle auctioneer, so why would he mess with success in the first place? "

Personally I don't think its a question of "messing with success" but a shrewd business move to maximize profits and minimize expenses while keeping the bottle collecting community in a constant state of anticipation.

Hat's off to Mr. Wichmann for keeping capitalism alive
- rs -


  1. I agree with your comments Rick. There are so many auctions at this point, it is hard to keep up with them all. Having a fixed price" for sale" format is similar to a bottle show without having to travel hundreds or thousands of miles to attend. Fighting for a piece and being able to strike a deal before someone else is part of the excitement. my website, has an 86% sales rate and I believe the playing field is fair with a" for sale" format. It is not only the "big dog" with the deepest pockets like an auction. We all have seen two or three collectors running up a record price for a piece in an auction, only to see the subsequent sale of the same piece plummet next time. Someone is losing a ton of money, but certainly not the auction house. If someone wants a specific price for a bottle, they have no doubt calculated what they need to get out of it and price it accordingly. I like any and all sales processes. As long as the piece is available, someone will likely buy it. The whining over this type of sales format is disappointing but not surprising. So far, on Jeff's for sale listings, I have been able to get every bottle I wanted. If they do not sell immediately, the price comes down. Pretty simple economics. Some fixed prices are smokin deals, and others a bit strong, but all in all a great and different method of adding a piece to your collection. I would bet that many of the bottles sold in this way have gone to collectors who may have been outbid in an auction. Seems pretty fair to me. Is a small group of collectors pooling their money to buy a collection which nobody else will ever have a chance to see fair? Happens all the time. You do not need to be rich to buy with a "for sale" format... just fast. D M.

  2. Yep, now that you mention it I forgot about the supposed :group buy" that happens when several folks go together to buy a large collection. I don't know how many times I have heard second hand how so and so's collection was bought, split up and the remaining bottles peddled to pay for the ones they kept. I personally don't find anything wrong with this but would sure like to know when something I want to collect becomes available. The "bottles for sale page" seems to me to be a way to make it a more, should I say, even playing field.

    Of course I don't have the free time to sit by my laptop non stop to watch for something I want to put on my shelf. But when I do check the various for sale sites and see something that tickles my fancy I will pull the trigger. Hope its in time

  3. Very valid points made by both Dale and Rick.

    Here's a bit of my mindset... Bob Barnett and I came to an agreement when his health started to fail. I would continue on in his stead, publishing the "old fashioned" mailing list with set prices. I also promised not to pursue the feeding frenzy auction format. Our hope was that the supply of, and interest in, western whiskies could continue status quo and ultimately grow as new collectors entered the hobby. And that we could continue to see good bottles made available at fair prices not driven into orbit by auction mentality.

    In an attempt to keep up with technology, I tried eBay's "buy it now" format on a very good picture whiskey. I priced it the same as what it could be bought off my list for, and it sold immediately. The end result was a very happy new owner, but a sizeable net loss for me. I gave away a great bottle, paid a ton of money in fees, and learned a valuable lesson. Ebay may be great for increasing visibility, but it comes at a price. Live and learn.

    When your goal is to simply break even at the end of the year (this is just a hobby for me), eBay is out if you're committed to even pricing on all levels. For me, no more eBay. I now price bottles as a buy it now on occasion, on my website. The offerings are priced the same, or even less on occasion, than they are on the mailing list.

    In the end, Ebay and PayPal don't cut a fat hog, and everyone has an equal opportunity to acquire quality western whiskies at a fair and fixed price.

    Again, excellent points, Dale and Rick. I think we're all in agreement.