Updated 2014: As wonderful as pin trading is, there are indeed some pitfalls that might discourage you if you’re not prepared. Hopefully, this blog post will help navigate some of those little pin trading trials and assist you in making your pin trading experience the best it can be.
Never trade a pin you have doubts about trading. This is the cardinal rule because odds are you can’t get it back. It might seem a bit obvious, but the temptation to get a new pin sometimes overrides logic and you might trade away a pin that you value for one of perceived higher value – only to be disappointed later. I’ve seen it happen to kids especially which is just heartbreaking. If any child wants to “trade back” with me, I would let them, as most traders would, but sometimes they leave, go home, ride some rides, and your pin is gone. Or someone else might have traded for it right away. So as a general rule, if you like the pin, keep the pin. You can ALWAYS find that other pin some other time. Have faith that someone, somewhere will trade you for that pin you want eventually.
Give your pin binder / case / lanyard FIRST. There’s nothing more disheartening than seeing a pin you really want to trade for and then having the person at the table tell you there’s nothing they see in your binder they want. By asking them to look at your stuff first, you save yourself the heartbreak. Most pin traders appreciate it and will be honest about whether or not they like something or see something they might want to trade for. Also, if you are pin trading with your kids, ask the pin trader at the table if they have any “one for one” binders / cases – meaning they will take anything of yours for one of theirs. I know my daughter has gone up to people before and they were unwilling to trade anything. Most good pin traders have at least a small selection (and some a HUGE selection) of “one for one” traders. Kids just like the thrill of the chase and participating in the hobby. They aren’t as concerned usually about the LE number of a pin, so go to the good traders and help them out.
Think hard about the trade if the trader asks you to go buy pins for them. Although it doesn’t happen a lot, there are some unscrupulous pin traders out there who are seeking to rip off innocent and unknowledgeable newbies to the hobby. You might see a pin in their binder you really like and they want you to buy them one or two pins from the nearby pin store to trade for it. Don’t do it unless you know the worth of the pin and you know that it’s worth it to you. Now, if you offer – that’s a different story. But if they tell you that if you buy “such and such a pin” they would trade you…just know your pin values. A Hidden Mickey is almost never worth buying a pin for in my opinion. But a Jessica jumbo costume pin? Probably worth buying three. In these cases, you really need to know your pins. Because they do. Take a second and look it up on eBay or PinPics if you have a mobile phone. Any good trader won’t be offended.
Be careful of certain eBay sellers. Although the majority of eBay sellers out there are honest, pin-loving nerds like you and me, there are some out there purposely selling scrappers and fakes. And just because someone has a 99.5% satisfaction rate (or even 100%) doesn’t mean they aren’t a scrapper dealer. It just means lots of people don’t know the difference. Look at the negative and neutral feedback if they have any. If the feedback mentions scrappers, fakes, or poor quality pins, you should probably avoid them. If the seller says things in their eBay description like “You can trade my pins at any Disney Park” or “All my pins have Mickey shaped backs” these again are words that raise red flags. If they sell many of the same pins over and over, especially LE pins, avoid them like the plague! One person on eBay sells under multiple IDs (to hide his/her scam I guess) and sells the same LE pins on each ID. Now, a LE 300 pin sold only in one location with a limit of two per person per day that generally sells out in one day? No one is going to have 10 or 20 copies of it – let alone 30 – 50. Especially if they live far away from a Disney park or pin location. So buyer beware!
There are some really great people in the pin trading community. I love most of them because they are nice, generous, and willing to help a person out in their collecting. Don’t let a bad experience deter you overall. Most people are honest, fair, and friendly. I’ve had more than one person give my daughter free pins just to help her out, and some give them extras just to make sure the trade was fair. So don’t let the trials and tribulations of pin trading deter you. Just learn from them and keep going!
For other posts in this series, please read some of these: