This computer bag is nice! It’s got leather that’s been tanned to a matte finish. It just feel like a quality product. It’s used, and has one small worn area in the corner, so I can’t even hint that it’s as good as new, but even with the flaw, I think it’s worth around $20. People regularly spend more to get less quality.
It never sold, and I eventually gave it away, because we needed to clean up here on a deadline.
Doomed from the Start
Looking back, reselling this was going to be difficult. I just didn’t see the factors. With this article, I hope to explain why, and help others avoid these pitfalls.
The product is a laptop bag, and the name is the Alpine Slimcase, and the maker’s brand is The Brown Bag Company.
- Quality isn’t Everything – it’s extremely important, but quality is not enough, because online buyers can’t feel or smell the quality. I was bowled over by the quality of the bag, and the low price of around $3. I wasn’t thinking rationally.
- Brands Matter – a brand is like a proxy for quality. Online, the brand matters fundamentally, because brands are searchable. People search for the brand right away. You want a quality brand product. While the Brown Bag Company was known for quality, it was for quality electrician’s gear. They didn’t have an established brand for this kind of luggage.
- Market Presence – a vintage item often needs to be a brand that’s still in use. There are many people looking for old Chevy and Ford things, but few looking for Hudson, REO, or Packard. People today don’t know the older brands.
- Searchability Matters a Lot – the Brown Bag Company, even if they had a great brand rep, and even some market presence, would have a hard time being found. A search for “Brown Bag” in the “luggage” category would turn up hundreds of results, and almost none would be for this company. When you do that search, don’t think of “the market” as all the bags: the search result is your market.
- Lousy Product Category – there are two parts to this. Every laptop bag is subject to these problems.
- Declining market – fewer people carry around their laptop in a bag. They use their cell phones. They have tablets.
- Expensive to ship – laptop bags weigh more than a pound, and maybe more than two pounds. That means the postage will be calculated by weight and distance. These prices are going to be high. Local delivery will start at $6 and go up to around $9. Halfway across the country, it’ll be $15 or more.So, what looked like a $3 bag to me, is at least a $18 bag to most of the country, and if you add in fees and a profit, it’s well over $20. That’s a difficult sales pitch.
- It’s not Tumi – in this declining market, you can only afford to buy the most high-end bag. Among the likely finds, that brand is Tumi.
Don’t feel bad for me. I’m hardly in a terrible situation. I own a nice bag. I think I paid $3 for it. That’s not a bad thing.