Underwater Wakulla- November 30, 2017

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A Thing is Only Worth What Someone is Willing to Pay for It, Part 1 By TRAVIS KERSTING

A Thing is Only Worth What Someone is Willing to Pay for it. Part 1

Have you dabbled in a sport or activity but were unsure you would enjoy it so you didn’t want to make a massive investment? Perhaps you liked the idea of golf but didn’t want a $2000 set of clubs or maybe it was race cars but you didn’t have $80k to drop on building a complete car from scratch. That’s normal and the retail market loves people who dabble. They sell them something “inexpensive” to get them started and then as the person continues they buy more and more items and often spend 2-3 times as much as if they had bought the proper stuff the first time.

Many people dabble in SCUBA because it’s scary to spend a whole bunch of money on equipment if they don’t live near water, lack reliably favorable diving conditions, or don’t think they will find others to enjoy the activity with them. Others are pressured into it and don’t want to commit or it’s a bucket list activity and they don’t intend to dive again. Sometimes life intervenes with medical problems, pregnancy, or relocating for work.

Regardless of why, if you bought the cheaper entry level items you can almost certainly expect their resale value to be low. If you are testing the waters or if intend to stick with SCUBA, then it’s usually best to look at the resale value of items, prior to purchasing, and weigh what you buy on more than just looks.

As an example, the first thing most people want to buy is either a dive knife or a SCUBA cylinder. Ironically those are both fairly low on the initial list of important purchases. If you did decide you wanted to buy a SCUBA cylinder then you should know two things: Aluminum cylinders do not retain value as well as steel cylinders and cylinders bought in matching pairs will typically resell for 20-30% more than cylinders sold individually. This is fairly logical, steel cylinders are less common in rental so they are in higher demand by individuals. Because aesthetics are important to us a matching set, especially for those looking to set up doubles or side-mount cylinders, garner a higher resale value. It’s expensive but do yourself a favor and buy cylinders in color, brand, and age-matched pairs.

What you want to do is make sure the other items you buy will be appealing to the widest audience when you try to resell them. A piston first stage regulator, that isn’t meant for cold water, will reduce the buyers to only those living or diving in warm environments. A modular BCD will be more valuable to more people than a jacket BC because it will work for single cylinders plus doubles for rebreathers. A canister type light is desirable to open water divers, cave and wreck divers, and those shooting videos or pictures. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend more money and it certainly doesn’t mean you have to compromise on comfort or features.

Strangely enough, color plays a big part in resale value in SCUBA. These days folks seem uninterested in the flashy blue and yellow wetsuit styles of the 70’ and 80’s. The same goes for every other piece of kit. If the colors are flashy or obtrusive they will only appeal to other people who like flashy color. Black, grey, blues, and sometimes reds tend to be favorable among the widest audience. You can buy a mask in yellow because you think it will be easier to see if you drop it but don’t expect to resell it for much.

Brand name, more than any other feature (including performance) will dictate how much something is truly worth, to certain people. There are folks who buy a specific brand regardless because they perceive it as better. I’m not a fan of Oceanic products, especially their Buoyancy compensators with proprietary fittings, but there are people who own every piece of kit in the Oceanic line of products because that’s the flavor of Koolaid they drank. If you are purchasing diving equipment, ask your friends what they have and like. If you decide to resell things those are probably the first people you’ll try to sell to. If they all like Scubapro Air Delivery Systems, it won’t help you to buy a Mares model unless you want to take a huge loss when you sell it on Ebay.

Buying and selling used equipment is a reality of our world, SCUBA is no different. The best we can try to do is minimize poor buying decisions and when it’s time to sell something try to maximize the number of interested parties to recoup some of that investment.