There are a lot of "dealers" out there running small hobby-like businesses from their front rooms or garages and of course some who are essentially doing the same and over time managed to expand . As you say, they're not necessarily making loads of money and possibly only just getting by, maybe even funding a more bohemian or arty life style on the megre profits of it - something I'd certainly support.
On the other side, there are many private individuals selling on the forums seemingly able to take massive depreciative losses on super high-end gear, losses that would more than cover the value of my system!
And further more evidence to contradict myself: my most recent amps were a real bargain from a dealer who works from home! I'd completely forgotten that, hehe.. about half the price of another pair for sale by a US dealer and stupidly a quarter the asking price of a private seller somewhere on the net (French forum I think).
Then again, I once got a call from a dealer when I was advertising something on hififorsale and the conversation got on to boasting about Radford gear he'd snapped up off widows for not much and the profit he'd make etc etc.. I guess he just didn't have an outlet for his excitement.
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Also many box-swappers with quick turn around.
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Thing is, I have bought things in the past because they were cheap! I didn't need them... I bought them only really because they were cheap - all part of the eBay addiction. Knowing they were cheap meant that in the back of my mind I knew I'd make a profit of some kind. Buying things marked as spares/repair and guessing they were an easy fix for example - feels good to get them working, play with them, listen to them and then pass on when something else comes along.. only I've not been passing them on.
Edit: Wow, I've just looked at my started threads too! I've forgotten about much of it - although some of it I still have and didn't sell in the end. I had been spending all spare earnings on eBay and only recently stopped (kind of).