A love of collecting

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Donna Deetz uses background in antiques, collections at Click2Sell4U & Kay’s Collectibles

Story by Madeleine Leroux
Photos by Julie Smith

For nearly 10 years, Donna Deetz has helped many across Mid-Missouri with getting rid of a variety of items through Click2Sell4U & Kay’s Collectibles on East High Street.

The shop is filled with everything from antique cameras and equipment to vintage books and collections of almost anything you can think of. It’s a perfect fit for Deetz, a self-described collector who was raised in the antiques world.

“I grew up with that,” Deetz said. “I collected stamps and I collected coins when I was a kid.”

Deetz began selling items on eBay in 1998, often using the platform to unload an item purchased at an auction or a piece from a collection purchased all at once. When word got out of her internet selling prowess, friends began asking for her help in doing the same, ultimately launching Click2Sell4U, which helps customers list and sell their items online.

“We had nothing like it in this town,” Deetz said.

At first, Deetz said she and her husband looked into an established brand that offered franchising for local stores. The corporate office would secure the location, provide the computer system and everything, all in exchange for a franchise fee plus $65,000. Deetz said after checking out the operation, she quickly realized she already knew much of what the corporation was offering to teach or provide.

“This is silly,” she said, recalling the experience. “So we just started our own.”

Deetz was already familiar with antiques, as her mother, Kay, had always dealt in antiques. (The field is also familiar for Deetz’s in-laws.) When her parents moved to Jefferson City about five years ago to be closer to Deetz and her husband, Click2Sell4U began to include Kay’s Collectibles.

So how does the combined shop work? Fairly simply.

Customers bring in the items they are looking to sell. Deetz said she’s pretty upfront with people on whether she thinks it will sell or not.

“You get a feeling for what does sell and what doesn’t sell, what people are interested in,” Deetz said. “Every once in a while something will surprise you … but you can pretty well tell when you’re looking and you do the research.”

Generally speaking, she doesn’t really deal with clothing or guns. There’s also certain regulations to keep in mind when looking to sell online. Certain platforms may have specific rules and Deetz said eBay can be very particular, noting that pieces of ivory are not able to be sold there.

Deetz said her customers set the price on the items they are looking to sell, but sometimes she has to be realistic with people about their expectations. She talked about the myriad of items that are sold as “collectibles,” giving examples of the Franklin Mint and Beanie Babies, but millions were made and sold.

“If you look on the internet, you can find 20,000 copies of something,” Deetz said. “You’re not going to get what you paid for it. … You have to be very upfront with people and tell them this is what you can expect to make.”

“Beanie Babies just don’t sell,” she added, for all those who hopped aboard the ’90s craze and have a storage container full of the plush, big eyed toys. (There may or may not be a Beanie Baby squirrel on the bookshelf of a certain HER Magazine editor.) Though she did note that one multicolored crab Beanie Baby sold for thousands on eBay, so there’s always an exception to the rule. Deetz actually had the same Beanie Baby in the shop this summer and was waiting to see what it would sell for.

If the item sells for more than $20, the shop takes a 40 percent cut and the remaining 60 percent is handed over to the customer. Deetz noted that the 40 percent includes all fees for listing on the platforms, shipping costs, etc. Plus, the shop helps with any needed research on the piece; that step is completed by Deetz’s mother.

“My mom loves doing the research … she’s very, very good at it,” Deetz said. “I’m the muscles, I do all the lifting and sorting.”

Any item listed online is also available in the shop on High Street. It’s really just a matter of who sees it, and buys it, first.

If the item doesn’t sell, Deetz said she’ll let the customer know and they can choose to take it back or opt to have Deetz donate the item.

Often, the people coming in to sell items have lost spouses or parents. Deetz said the items they are looking to sell are things that likely would have been sold in a garage or estate sale years ago. but things have changed.

“They don’t want people in their house anymore,” Deetz said.

Some customers have inherited such a large amount of items that then have to be sorted and sold that Deetz works with them for one year or more. There’s one customer who has been going through a house full of things after his mother died — Deetz said she’s been working with him for about two years and they’re almost done. And another who discovered his wife’s collections only after she died and comes in the shop every once in a while with a new load from her collections, which included Barbie dolls and Estee Lauder compacts still in their original cases.

And there’s been those who have traveled to Jefferson City just to purchase an item from the shop. Deetz said she’s had customers drive in from Louisiana or even North Carolina to get a particular piece.

Getting to know the people who come into her shop to sell or buy has been Deetz’s favorite part of the job. She loves learning their stories and where the different items came from, she said.

“We work with a lot of folks whose parents have passed and there’s stories that come with it,” Deetz said. “I’m a history fanatic. … It’s the stories, the history … the provenance that goes along with the items that come in. That’s my favorite part.”

The shop also helps keep Deetz’s own collecting impulses under control, as she can still enjoy a variety of collections without having to purchase or permanently house them.

“I love collections,” she said. “I’m a collector, so I love seeing what’s there.”

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