We're redesigning our website and because we sell unique items of vintage clothing, one question's arisen that has become quite a debate - whether or not to display items that are currently being purchased. We have always displayed these items in the past, but I cannot count the number of desperate customers who've contacted us asking "Is it available?". Occasionally the next question is "Can you ask the buyer to sell it to me? I'll pay double!" Or triple, or something similarly hopeful.
The unfortunate thing is, we couldn't justifiably broker a deal between our customer and this wishful thinker. And we can commiserate. I have been the wishful thinker myself, spying an exquisite rarity at a nice price just minutes too late on any number of occasions.
From the seller's perspective, it might seem nice to sell items at double and triple the listed prices, but I like to think our modest pricing is a primary reason why we have so many loyal customers. Though it's also why we get so many "is it available" emails. We aim to offer the best vintage clothing at the most accessible prices, and when many people would like a single item, it shows we've done that part of our job pretty well.
The fortunate thing is, we can always change our policy. As we have planned this redesign, I made a list of the pros and cons regarding holds. And the best analogy I could envision was the brick-and-mortar storefront. If a shopper picks out a certain special dress and takes it to the dressing room, it's essentially invisible from all other shoppers. Once it's in the bag and out the door, it remains invisible through its return period. While it was a proud thing to display prize pieces enviably marked "on hold" until their return periods ended, we just don't want to ruffle the fashionable feathers of those who'd missed out.
I do want to note that our new design, absent of all those "on hold" markers, may lead you to believe the item you see today might still be available tomorrow. Sometimes that works out. Many times it doesn't. In the end, it can certainly be said that the best time to buy that special find is when you see it.