Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Interview with COLLECTORS QUEST CEO/Founder ...
For all you History Channel and A+E fans – you may have noticed a tie in with an exciting new web site COLLECTORS QUEST. Created by collectors, for collectors, you can now upload and organize your own interesting collections, meet and talk with your fellow passionate collectors, and see different and unique collections from around the world. You can also find and sell treasures and get global news about the vast world of collecting.
“Our website is about making collecting easier and more fun!” says Elizabeth Kressel, Founder and CEO of Collectors Quest, a website that merges retail and interactive content for the collectors’ community. “We have a very different offering than other sites. We understand the antiques/collectible business as we are collector/sellers ourselves.”
Offering up everything from political buttons to breweriana to antique printing presses, Collectors Quest has a strategic marketing partnership with A+E Networks providing television exposure and online marketing support tied to A+E’s most popular properties, including Pawn Stars, American Pickers and Storage Wars. This partnership extends across all A+E properties to any programming with collector tie-ins and to commerce items directly related to the shows.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Liz Kressel on her exciting venture … I hope you enjoy the insights!

ThriftyDiversions: What made you want to come up with the concept for Collectors Quest?
ElizabethKressel: I grew up in a family of collectors so collecting was always in my blood. When I took a look at what was out there, the choices for collectors weren't great. It's a really visual hobby and most sites were lacking any photos whatsoever and video was nowhere to be seen. I also noticed that the websites that were out there only focused on one aspect of collecting - mostly the purchasing side. However, there is also a huge information side to it. There were sites that had the information but they were so dry - it was like reading the encyclopedia.
Given I came from a media background, I thought there was a better way to present this information. I wanted to combine the information and the purchase piece and add in missing visuals. Also, many of the sites out there had been started by hobbyists so there was little incentive to upgrade the technologies of the site. Given where the tech industry was - there were a lot more applications at my fingertips when I wanted to launch it. My thought was to bring the website experience for collectors into the 21st century.

TD: How long from the initial idea to the web launch this year?
EK: Our site has been around for 6 years but we embarked on a major relaunch in January of this year, premiering the new site in June. It was a major upgrade - new features and functionality and the premiere of fully transactional marketplace. We had done more of the matching of buyers and sellers in past. We had started with a blog, which is in the top 1% of all blogs, not just collecting blogs (as ranked by Technorati) and the aggregation of collecting information across the web and eventually added collector profiles and showcases. We still have all of that but the platform is cleaner, and we now have all of the HISTORY channel showcases like Pawn Stars, American Pickers, American Restoration and Picked Off.

TD: How did you manage to marry your idea to the popularity of History Channel / A+E programming of non-stop collecting theme shows?
EK: Funny enough, my idea originated as a cable network. There was nothing out there at the time, just a few scattered shows with Antiques Roadshow being the frontrunner. However, at the time the cable industry was changing making it harder to independents to be successful. The idea always had a web piece because a large amount of collectors online.
So, it is funny to be back in the cable space. Reality shows are a perfect format for collectors because they tend to have personality and are extremely passionate. It makes for great TV. I was lucky enough to know someone in programming and we were able to show how we could add value to their audience by showcasing relevant content. Many of HISTORY's shows tap into the collector consciousness - we just take them a step further by showcasing the items from the shows, giving them background and context. We also give their audience a platform in which to meet other collectors like themselves or to the more casual viewer - just to see cool items like the ones they have seen on the shows.

TD: What exciting things can we see coming up at Collectors Quest as you grow? 

Liz Kressel, CEO/Founder
Collectors Quest

EK: We are adding features weekly but some of the big rollouts you can expect are bringing collectors clubs on to our platform, as well as well know collecting brands (Coca Cola, Pez etc.) We are looking to build several mobile apps as well that will help collectors locate items of interest. We are also rolling out more tie-ins A+E Networks. This month will start our initiative with Bio Channel and we hope to have the A&E brand shows (Storage Wars, Hoarders) in early 2013.

TD: Personally what is your favorite thing to collect and how do you find it?
EK: That is so hard to pick given I have about 6 very active collections (toy trucks, stone eggs, political buttons, military miniatures among them) but if I had to pick one I would say it is 1930's and 1940's American furniture. I go to flea markets, antique malls and auctions. I also do the occasional garage sale but that is much harder since I live in NYC. I also have pulled stuff out of the garbage - one man's trash right? I was also very lucky to have inherited some of my grandmother's furniture to add to my collection.

TD: Recommendations for newbie collectors?
EK: Collect what you love. Most collectors don't do it for the investment aspect. They do it because there is something that intrigues them about the item. Prices come and go based on desirability but it shouldn't negate your appreciation of it. I give the example of 60's and 70's furniture - it's very hot right now so the prices are up. Is is valuable? Perhaps but it is more a question of supply and demand and the demand is strong. However, when Art Deco is the fad two years later, the prices would fall. So, I personally believe if you collect what you love, you'll avoid feeling taken.
Start with smaller items until you gain more of an expertise. I am a newer political button collectors (about 5 years now) and my price threshold is $50 because I know less about it. That said, I've been collecting furniture for about 20 years and I'm quite comfortable dropping substantially more because I have a better knowledge base. Also, don't be afraid to ask! Most dealers are happy to tell you what they know about an item if they can. I always ask about items I don't purchase as well. It's a great way to build knowledge on the types of items you collect.

TD: Thanks Liz!

visit the THRIFTY DIVERSIONS collections of Melmac Mania, Vintage Hats, Pulp Fiction and more featured on COLLECTORS QUEST at