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Asset Reallocation
January/February 2001

When it gets to be December, most financial advisors suggest that investors look over their portfolios and consider a little asset reallocation. On one hand, it means it’s time to sell those dogs or losers and take the advantages of a tax loss. On the other hand, it also is a suggestion to consider what we’d prefer to own going into the future, and maybe even some of the sales may allow for a little profit taking if the initial investments were prudent.

For decoy collectors the beginning of the year is the time to take a hard look at what’s sitting on our shelves. This timing has nothing to do with tax consequences, it’s simply that the onset of the New Year offers multiple opportunities to handle the necessary reallocating. And calculating profits and losses has nothing to do with the decisions.

The longer we are decoy collectors, the more apt our taste has changed. Face it, few new collectors really know what they want. They know they like decoys and they know their shelves are empty. They’re at a decoy show or auction, maybe for the first time (though some never change), and they need a shopping cart to make it down the aisles or through the rooms. Quantity! Other new collectors may have gotten their start at a local club and, initially, felt compelled to buy local birds. And then they saw a Crowell. Still others knew what they wanted from the time they first laid their eyes on one – say a Cobb goose – but only had the finances to afford a lesser example.

It’s a good time to take another look at those shelves.

Face it, you’ve got assets tied up in birds that no longer fit your collecting interest. Selling or trading them gives you additional money, or extra ammunition, to pursue items you now prefer. And this is the perfect time of year to make a few of those decisions. Why? Because of the many shows and auctions on the horizon that present ripe opportunities to dispose of those former treasures.

Even if you’re not a "decoy dealer," that doesn’t mean you’re incapable of selling some of your portfolio. Grab a decoy (or decoys) and haul it with you to the next show. Don’t have a table? Don’t have a room? No problem. Stick it under your arm and carry it around. Odds are, if the bird is a "worthy" example and the price is fair and right, someone will be willing to take it off your hands. And best of all, maybe you can find someone to trade you for something you now prefer.

If you have no luck going solo, or simply prefer to not handle the sale yourself, many dealers purchase inventory and some accept consignments. See which ones at a show offer the type or quality of decoys you have to sell. But you’ve got to be realistic and realize you probably won’t get full retail value going this route. A dealer needs to profit for his services. Also, many dealers will accept trade-ins if you purchase something of greater value. Sometimes this will give you a better return on your decoy than an actual sale. But don’t forget, the object is to move the item and put that already spent money into a decoy that better suits your collection.

Or take a popular route and consign it to an auction house and let the dice roll.

If you were a savvy collector when you first laid your money down (maybe you were smart enough to take advice from a veteran), that bird or birds you now wish to dispose of will likely have increased in value. But if you erred, take your lumps and move on. Although you won’t have to worry about an old decoy filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy – like a big mistake in the stock market – if it’s not a blue chip now, a blue chip it will never be.

So before you head out to that next decoy show, make a wish list of all the great decoys you’ve love to own. Then take a good hard look at those shelves to see if there isn’t a bird that might help make that dream a reality.

Asset reallocation. Isn’t that what smart collecting is really all about?