There has been a decided decrease in the purchasing power of the average BJD hobbyist thanks to the decline of the secondhand market. We can no longer purchase a doll knowing we cannot recoup most of our costs and turn around and reinvest the money from that doll back into the market.
It's not over-saturation that is to blame either, in my opinion. Yes there are thousands of sculpts out there now. It's harder to stand out and compete both as a hobbyist and as a doll maker. But saturation is a good thing. It means there is a thriving primary market. It means people are willing to take a risk on an expensive item, support a smaller company, and contribute directly to the ability of artists to produce a wider variety of sculpts than we saw back in the first days of the hobby. Saturation is proof that the thriving secondhand market, the ability to sell to buy, resulted in this plethora of options.
But perhaps the biggest risk of an over-saturated market is that people are only buying what's popular. Right now, that's Fairyland dolls. Specifically their minifee line. This is great for Fairyland, but it's making people wary and unwilling to try something new because they want in on the trend for whatever reason. Iplehouse isn't selling because they can't top the Fairyland fad. A few years ago everyone and their dog owned a Soom. Before that it was Luts.
All of that aside, essentially what is happening is that money is not being reinvested back into the market. Fewer dolls will be purchased. More recasts will be purchased. After all, if you're going to be stuck with a doll and unable to sell it you might as well buy the fake right?
A thriving secondhand economy ensures a constant ability to buy and sell. It ensures there will be a certain amount of investment, risk taking, and compensation. I read several college papers on secondhand shops in regards to the retail world. One of the things discussed was that these shops helped with environmental sustainability. The ability to purchase something secondhand means no more resources need to be spent, no more pollutants produced, to create a new one. Let's not kid ourselves- most resin is hardly environmentally friendly.
Granted, I am no economist. I'm an anthropologist. Most of my time was spent in museums with dead things and occasionally talking to other people about dead things. I hope this piece at least triggers some conversation and reexamination of the expectations on part of both buyers and sellers in this hobby.
You won't find a Gucci purse at Walmart, but you might find it on eBay.
Thank you for reading my ramblings, and happy continued collecting. <3