I've been a member of auction site Wensy.com since shortly after it's launch in 2007 but have never purchased a single coin till today. It wasn't a steal but simply a nice borderline VF coin from Chile that was priced around book value. With their coin inventory at almost 12,000 listings, my passing fancy of just watching has turned into one of general interest as a possible coin purchasing outlet.
Wensy is a completely free site born out of the failure of Yahoo auctions and subsequently picked up a decent percentage of yahoo auction sellers. I've kept an eye on the site over the last year and a half to see where it was going and who was advertising. As expected, many of the over-graders from the old Yahoo transferred accounts and exist there today but there are on occasion some hidden gems. Some sellers you may recognize as they utilize both E-Bay & Wensy to hawk their goods.
Wensy's purpose in life is not to compete with e-bay but to provide a low cost auction solution for sellers/buyers. Born out of the frustrations of originator Darren Bock, Wensy is basically a home grown & operated site with a lot of personal interaction from the site owners. Being small they don't have the huge overhead & support staff of e-bay and simply deploy a "Strike and you are out" attitude.
For buyers it's a two strikes and you (and your IP address) are blocked from entering the site ever again. For sellers it's a three strikes and you are out with the same penalty.
Purchasing the coin was fairly simple and most sellers accept multiple payment options including Paypal & Google Checkout which is a nice change from E-Bay. One possible thing I haven't tried is since there are so few members, in relation to overall supply, many auctions go unclaimed. If some coins are just sitting there for weeks on end with no nibbles then there maybe an e-mail & best offer opportunity to buy it below the auction price.
Overgrading & Overpricing!!! Here's an example:
Advertised listing for a 1911D Barber Half as Fine+ for $55. Current trends for this coin in VG8 are $17 while a grade of F12 is $45. After looking at the pics, I would have graded this in the upper levels of VG (VG10) with some Fine details for a grade of VG10+ and a reasonable price would have been in the $25 to $30 range. Unfortunately, this seller's overgrading & overpricing are consistent.
I really like the site & potential yet at the same time hate to see new collectors overpay & get soured on the hobby. Small auction sites have few (if any) external (third party) blog sites or tools to help buyers like we have with e-bay.
Maybe we can use this site? Question is how or if anyone is really interested? What would folks like to see? I don't want anything that only rips it a proverbial new one but to help promote it as another resource for collectors while providing buyers with a helpful resource. I may be the only person concerned so maybe I'm just dreaming but if folks are interested I am open to using this site.
Don't Get Confused with E-bay
E-bay is a money making machine and is geared towards sellers and commissions so it has every vested interest to quickly move auctions in high volume regardless of quality of sale. Essentially this is their business model for making money.
This type of auction site is great if you have a steady stream of product and you can easily justify any fees in replace of any marketing you would have done if you were a private company.
The Wensy site is really catering to the low volume sellers. These are folks who occasionally sell things or simply have a smaller supply of product and cannot afford the continuous levels of fees (remember Wensy is completely free). It's also a low cost, get your feet wet kind of thing for a small business. Essentially you get a free website via a store front and your administrative duties are managed for free (you don't have to pay your kids, niece or nephew to man a phone and take orders).
The only downside is advertising as Wensy is not a business model but a service provider and they are doing exactly that providing a free service. Since no revenue is being generated by the site (except for some pittance of google adwords and the occasional generous donation), most site maintenance is focused on…duh…service! But isn't this what being a small business or entrepreneur should be embracing? Absolutely, Wensy is not responsible for my business but simply a service (and to some extent providing you with free IT support). As a business owner it should be my creative juices that solve the advertising gap and if Wensy comes along with a feature that helps then great and all the better.
In the end you cannot compare E-bay to Wensy! It's apples to oranges, business vs. service, you get the point.
ok….starting to ramble a tad, time to search some more auctions :)