Open Letter to the reviewer going by the alias “Sarah Tedder”

Posted On January 10, 2018 at 1:11 am by / No Comments

Here are a sample of the reviews. My reply is below.

Dear “Sarah”:

You hit a few topics I would like to address openly. You submitted what appears to be 6 Google Reviews about my business since they all had very similar verbiage and tone and were all submitted within the same hour. You appear to know something about me, by addressing my technical abilities, which leads me to believe these review bombs are directed towards me for some reason. There is a degree of cowardice in remaining anonymous if that is the case, but I’m not holding my breath on you coming forward about it. Instead I will simply address the criticisms in your review as if you’ve ever actually stepped foot in my store.

To summarize:
“offers terrible prices for your collectibles”
“overpriced / you are going to pay way above what it’s worth”
“beneath the owner and his lackeys”
“shady business / don’t rent a booth here unless you want to lose money / owner makes his money no matter what”

Business 101: Buy low, sell high. Do we rip people off? Definitely not. Have you ever sold to a resale shop before? Vintage Stock employees (that love our store, by the way) have told us we pay double and triple the amounts they do. We make offers to people and not everyone is happy with the offer, but a lot goes into determining a safe amount to pay on a product. An item that’s small (not a lot of shelf space), hot (will sell fast), and unique (we don’t have 10 of them in storage) we’ll pay much closer to retail than an item we fear might take up too much space and collect dust. Usually we don’t offer low amounts, we simply decline the purchase if we’re not interested. I’m curious, what did you try to sell us?

Item pricing. I know you’re familiar with a multi-vendor mall concept because you seem to be opposed to this business model. But with this business model, each vendor sets their own prices! It’s very unfair to judge the entire store on a few items that you felt was higher than justified. We encourage all vendors to not just meet, but beat ebay pricing… and most do. In fact, most of the time if it’s overpriced it’s simply an error (or old pricing, since the market fluctuates) and so far anyone that has challenged the price we have looked up and collaborated with the vendor that owns the item and sold it for less. Most of the time, it’s not needed. Very few people complain about our pricing. The super rare items are priced high, but they’re also priced high on ebay (assuming there is even one on ebay at the time). I challenge you to challenge us. 🙂

The owners lackeys… all I could do was laugh at this one. I don’t have “lackeys” nor do I treat any of my colleagues or customers with disrespect. This comment is the reason I don’t think you and I have ever actually met in person. Our vendors always come first, and I do everything in my power to make sure they are taken care of and doing well. I go out of my way to make sales for vendors, I host free events knowing it will benefit them, I have pardoned rent dues in hard times, I never turn down ideas and I am very respectful to all of them and I treat all of them as if it’s their business too… because it is. I’m not “above” and no one is “beneath” and certainly no one here is a “lackey”. I try my best to make sure everyone that vends here feels like they are part of a community with this store, and not just “some booth number”.

Shady business. You seem to have criticisms on my business model, but I’m not the first multi-vendor mall… far from it in fact. I may be the first multi-vendor mall that’s toy-centered, but you have criticisms on the system as a whole and you’re taking it out on a contestant. It seems you have a dislike for any multi vendor antique mall in existence with your statement.

You claim that it’s a shady business and I make my money no matter what. Well, shady implies lack of light, so let me shine some light on a few things. This place isn’t like other vendor malls. With a typical antique mall, your statement would be correct, the owner would do well no matter what. We’re on a “break-even business model” – I keep booth rent low and the idea is if 100% of the booths are rented, then we break even with the overheads. I’ve got news for you, we’re not always 100% full. Which means for 2017-2018 we weren’t profitable. Don’t believe me? Let me break it down for you.

People will be surprised that I’m sharing this information. Our monthly overheads are approximately $3950 a month, depending on the electric bill (which is around $450 summer and $200 winter) but $3950 is where it averages. Which made total overheads for 2017 just around $47k. I wrote checks for vendor payouts for the year totaling $48,154.41 (Keep in mind, I don’t actually collect vendor rent, I simply deduct it from their sales, so the payouts are after rent.) After paying around $7k to sales tax, that makes my total expense for the year approximately $102,000. For the year, we brought in a total of $90,259.86. So where did that negative $12k come from?

I forgot to mention, those vendor payout checks didn’t include payments to the “rasoul” vendor (spoiler alert: that’s me!) which would have totaled $6,845.81. Instead, 100% of anything that sold with the “rasoul” tag simply went to the store toward overheads. The rest of the monthly negative expenses came out of my pocket. I forgot to mention something else… I don’t take a paycheck. I don’t pay myself anything. Those overheads don’t assume a single dime going into my pocket. I work 7 days a week and I’m personally at the toy store every single weekend working. My last day off was Christmas. My last day off before that was Thanksgiving. My last day off before that was the Christmas before. You get the idea.

So WHY ON EARTH do I work as hard and often as I do for exactly zero pay?
The answer is simple. I love it. I LOVE IT.

I love the store, I love the vendors and the customers and the toys. Customers come in and start talking toys and I could literally do that all day, especially if someone mentions Super Powers. I love everything about it. I’ve been a toy collector my whole life. My grandparents were both collectors and my great grandma had an amazing toy collection as well. One of my best friends in the world wanted to open a toy store and started collecting inventory. When he passed away earlier in 2016, I spent more than I had (and cashed out my retirement and took a penalty) to purchase his toy collection from his family so I could fulfil the legacy of his toy store, and I went in knowing that it wasn’t going to be very profitable and thought maybe I could pull it off if it were a multi-vendor business model. I wanted this place to be everything I ever wanted a toy store to be as a collector and that is what I have accomplished. Toy Shield (the parent company) sells enough cases to contribute funds and some months I make enough at my computer business (my M-F) to put money into the toy store to keep it going, and I will continue to do so as long as I can afford it because I LOVE IT, not because I’m profiting off it.

I don’t know you, nor do I know what you hold against me, but your reviews felt personal in nature so I wanted my response to your accusations and opinions to be made public so people can know where I’m coming from and so I’m accountable for what I’m saying as well (the exact opposite of anonymous).

Whoever you are, regards.

Rasoul Ezzat-Ahmadi
Owner, Vintage Toy Mall

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