Mir-El Antiques Transcends eBay With Judaica Auctions Website

By Herb Brandon
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem ----July 30 ..... The past Christmas and Hannuka holiday proved that Internet on-line auction sites are among the most promising e-commerce operations on the Web today. Media Metrix, an e-commerce traffic measurement firm, reported that eBay saw its highest volume of unique visitors overall - 4,073 million - during the peak holiday season between Nov. 22 and Dec. 26. And Amazon.com, which also has auction services, took the number 1 spot, boasting 5,693 million visitors.

Internet research company Forrester Research foresaw potent growth in auctions.
Analyst Evie Black Dykema made note of the growth possibilities for the then, new e-commerce industry in an Internet marketing research report she compiled back in March 1999.

And the marketing, buying and selling of old and rare Judaica antiques on the Internet, which was once limited to eBay, is now taking on new dimensions with the launching of Mir-El Antiques new Website www.AntiquesAuctionsBuySell.com.

Mir-El Antiques, which operates from Israel, started selling old and rare antiques and works of Jewish art through eBay in 2001, and has sold thousands of precious artifacts to customers from New York, London, Paris and Toronto to Moscow, Jerusalem, Melbourne and Tokyo.

"In the past 6 years of providing antiques auctions services on eBay, there have been less than ten cases in which there has been any theft or damage to the packages," says Eli Hollander, CEO of Mir-El Antiques. "In every case, Mir-El Antiques has been known to compensate the customer quickly and efficiently. Mir-El is proud of its quality antique auctions services on eBay and as such we are now providing the same quality antiques and Judaica art at more competitive prices from our own Judaica, metals, arts and antiques Website.

"Every product we put up for sale is of the highest quality", says Eli. "Mir-El Antiques guarantees the origin, material and condition of each and every auctioned item as is exactly stated. In many auction antique events, we consult professional appraisers in order to be completely confident that everything we write about the items is accurate."

According to their clients, Mir-El Antiques has an excellent level of service, responding quickly to any question or concern that a buyer might have. The company sends packages abroad three times a week to North and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia all by registered air mail, and upon request – express mail as well.

Mir-El Antiques has more than 2,000 items in their on-line, e-commerce store at any given time, from over one hundred countries, with many unique stories. The rare items, from books, tallit and gold to ivory, watches and swords are mostly purchased from individuals or families that immigrate to Israel. The many countries from which people immigrate to the Holy Land, is what contributes to the rare and extensive variety of items in the store. Mir-El Antiques sells everything from Judaic items such as Menorahs, Torah pointers, Mezuzahs, Finials, Scrolls, Tsedaka (charity) boxes, dreidels and charms, to sculptures and figurines, magan david, jewelry, paintings, books, coins, clocks and swords.

Over the years, the company has managed to consolidate an efficient, professional team, consisting of only five people, including Eli's eldest son.
"In addition to each person's loyal work and extreme professionalism, we have all developed a very close, warm relationship. The business feels a lot like a family," says Eli.

The public has reacted very well to the Mir-El's auction and antique site. Dozens of compliments pour in from around the world on a daily basis.

"Dear Mir-El antiques, I would like to thank you for your service in providing me with that 19th Century Judaica Sterlin Silver Hanukah Menorah. It’s a beautiful item and I love it very much. You have done an excellent job, from taking my order, being so nice throughout the correspondence, and packing and shipping the item safely and quickly. This is truly a beautiful piece of antique artwork. I’m sure we will work together again soon," says Stephen F., of London, Britain.

"Hi Eli, many many thanks for sending me the “Silver and Ivory Yad Torah Pointer Austria 18th Century”. It arrived just in time for my son’s Bar Mitzva, and he went crazy over it! Great gift, excellent service, beautiful items. I’ll be back," exclaims Laura B., of Toronto, Canada.

"Hello again, just wanted to thank you for the antique enamel cloisonne' bronze Asian teapot. I placed it on my shelf in the living room and have gotten many compliments. Thanks a lot." were the comments emailed from Brechtje of Amsterdam, Netherlands.

"To Eli and his staff, today I received the sterling silver and gold Damascus Tsedaka Charity Box Judaica 1920s. It turned out to be even more beautiful than it looked in the pictures! I am interested in buying the Ebony and Ivory Japanese Netsuke Artist now. Could you please tell me how much it is?", asks Claudia of Milano, Italy.

"I just came back from the post office and opened the package you sent me! I’m surprised at how quickly it got here. The Tanzanian wood mask from the 19th century is so lifelike and breathtaking, I would never have imagined it can look even better than it looks in your photos! I’m so excited , thank you so much! Could you wait with the shipping of the Russian silver cigarette case inlaid with diamonds until the 11th? I’m going out of town for a couple of weeks," said Yevgeni of Moscow, Russia.

And Michel H., from Paris, France said: "Eli my friend, it was magnificent getting the 18k Gold Six Diamonds Pearl Earrings yesterday. They arrived just two days before our anniversary and I know they will make my wife extremely happy. Thanks for everything."

"The consumer on-line auction market will grow to $22 billion by 2007, fueled by the growth of person-to-person and business-to-consumer players," Dykema said. "Understanding the potential of this format will enable retailers to thrive on-line."

"Auctions are time consuming, prices are never set until a bid ends and bidders run the risk of not getting the merchandise they want," she said. "Auctions don't lend themselves to a lot of shoppers out there who know what they want, know the price they want it at and want the item fast."

But they provide a shopping forum on the Web that "allows individuals to interact with each other," she added. And auctions are a perfect venue for getting loved ones unique gifts that are rare or collectible.

Allyson Leavy, account manager for the NPD Group, agrees. "The novelty and fun of bidding makes it interesting for people to go there," she told DSN. "People have become hooked, and there is a loyal base in auctions."

Aside from turning off a portion of the consumer base, auctions create a risk to some e-tailers, Leavy warned. Retailers who sell on-the-Web merchandise within the toys, apparel and consumer electronics categories could suffer cannibalization in the future if auctions grow in popularity

"Such items as toys are at greatest risk of on-line cannibalization. There are lot of used and collectible toys people buy, so it's a category where people think they can get a better price or, more importantly, a hard-to-find item on line. Auctions are great for hard-to-find toys," Leavy explained. "And also, collectibles like Beanie Babies are typically sought after in auctions. To a lesser extent, computer hardware falls into the same problem because people update they computers and get rid of their older items in auctions. And with clothing, now you can buy brand new clothes on auction sites at discounted prices."

Faced with these dangers, one way for retailers to fight back is by emphasizing to consumers the quality and competitive prices of their merchandise.

"Traditional retailers could possibly add guarantees to the quality of their merchandise," Leavy said. "One of the pitfalls of auction sites is that people are disappointed with merchandise they buy because it was made out to be better than it was. Many times, the merchandise on auctions doesn't live up to customers' expectations."

According to EIG, the demography of auction clientele is now changing from the traditional domain of developers and investors to include private homebuyers.

The growth is such that the auction arena is currently experiencing a ten per cent growth year-on-year, EIG claimed.

Commenting on the popularity of auction sites, David Sanderman, founder and managing director of the EIG said: "It is not now seen as a sale of last resort. With the advent of the Internet we can get information out to private buyers. Auctions are no longer the preserve of investors and developers.

"We have seen some recent auctions where up to 50 per cent of the buyers are private individuals. They are buying a property to live in or to build up a small portfolio of buy-to-lets.

"Quite often these people will have a full-time job, so these auctions are not their primary source of income," he added.

eBay Inc., the world's largest online auctioneer, said earnings rose for the fourth straight quarter after higher fees increased auction revenue and its PayPal unit added more corporate customers.

Second-quarter net income climbed 50 percent to $375.8 million, or 27 cents a share, from $250 million, or 17 cents, a year earlier, San Jose, California-based eBay said today in a statement. Sales advanced 30 percent to $1.83 billion.

"On-line auctions are growing in popularity," says Hollander. "And even more so for rare Judaica antiques. People now view the Internet beyond the mere purchase, but as an adventure in finding true and buried treasures."




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