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New Old Stock Explained

Introduction to the term NEW OLD STOCK (NOS)

The history of the current topic and future thoughts about NOS.

What New Old Stock means to us by Lance & Patrick

New Old Stock to us means that products of yesterday are as new as they were on their first day in time and yet, have not been produced in maybe as many as 4 to 9 decades.

Here are some of the topics that will be discussed in this document:

  • NOS is New Old Stock.
  • What business types would have New Old Stock items?
  • How did New Old Stock become a thing in the first place?
  • NOS Auctions and Flippers.
  • Meet the world of New Old Stock.
  • Products made to order versus products made in advance.
  • Hand assisted production versus mass production.
  • The Internet and the changes to New Old Stock.
  • The legal definition of New Old Stock.
  • What makes an item New Old Stock?
  • New Old Stock Rules of Value.
  • Active Atom and how New Old Stock played an important role for us.

What is our description of an item being classified as NOS?
This answer is going to come with some backlash from some.

The Sales Channel

The term New Old Stock came to be known when businesses mostly in the distribution and retail area for the product cycle would receive inventory from the maker, the manufacturers.

The distributors would offer products mostly to sub-assembly manufacturers, resellers, VAR's, wholesalers and retailers. The retailers would offer products for sale to some specific business types and consumers, both classified as end-users for this example.

The 6 Channels of the product cycle

Now that we highlighted the 6 channels of product distribution through the cycle let's take each avenue and describe what occurs and where the term New Old Stock comes to be for each channel type.

We are going to start with the king of all produced products and work our way backwards to the creation of the actual products.

The king of all products made is the consumer. The consumer is all of us, each and every one of us.

CONSUMER

Tough as it is, this is generally not New Old Stock any longer. It is tough to confirm technical details as generally, though that does not mean the item is not a viable New Old Stock. It is just that it is likely that it has been opened, used, displayed, shared and so forth, so it becomes just that, a buyer beware item.

Once the item was sold to the consumer, it was no longer New Old Stock. It has been sold and regardless if the consumer took it home, threw it up into the air or placed it into a drawer, cabinet, garage or elsewhere, it was still sold and that ends the cycle for the product.

RETAILER/CONSUMER

This is a great place to seek New Old Stock and we see this happens all of the time. The store is generally a single name store that ordered products from catalogs or distributors and the store is typically a single unit or they are a small chain of retail stores in a region of the country. They get in a line of products that includes anything from glasses, motorcycles, camping, sporting, entertainment, automotive, bicycle, to outboard boat motors or anything that a consumer would be a buyer of.

Then the retailer begins to sell these items throughout the season or year in various ways such as through newspaper advertising, mailer, flier, email, website, window dressing, a sale, customer appreciation sale, loyalty sale, parking lot sale, end of season sale, end of the year sale or store anniversary sale. You name it, ways retailers come up with to sell goods at the various times and then there is the final shot, selling the remaining items as an end of life or end of the model year sale.

Lastly and finally, they are either returned to the distributor or if not returnable, the items remain with the buyer with future orders being discounted but in this case, the items will slowly become forgotten about (we hope). These are future New Old Stock items someday.

WHOLESELLER/BUSINESS

This is similar to the above retailer/consumer, only this deals with the selling of products from manufacturers through these dealers specializing in mostly sub assemblies or industrial demand products like completed durable goods (3 years or longer), machinery, tools and machine shop support tools. Then there are the replacement parts that include the manufacturers of products they utilize such as parts and components from other manufacturers in their product building cycle. This might be the holy grail (in our experiences) of New Old Stock since it would be easy to see a manufacturer making their own product line utilizing various parts, motors, belts, track, bolts, wheels, you name it.

When these makers discontinue their current products or release new products, the components that go into them often change, meaning there are a lot of parts still in stock that do not fit into the current product builds.

In addition, these manufactured or assembled product makers still need to support the customer as there may be a warranty of time or hours coverage, resulting in the consumer needing a replacement part or component. So the main product maker being the OEM (original equipment manufacturer), would need to stock some spare parts regardless of the maker for years after the products were no longer produced. This standard occurrence leads to the "you guessed it!", more New Old Stock.

BUSINESS /VALUE ADDED RESELLER

Businesses buy stuff and in this case, it is going to depend on the specific business type. So we will pause the retail sector here and go to makers, the businesses that make some things and buy and add other things.

Then there is the VAR part of this story. They buy one thing and add another thing or things to it to make a (VAR) value added reseller product. These include bundlers who are people that get some products from one maker and bundle those with another maker or many makers which these can also be called VAR kitting.

These businesses might offer machinery, vehicle, watercraft, conveyor systems, filters, pumps, motors, bearings, shafts or any of the other millions of reasons a business might exist that perform certain processes or procedures for other customer's, consumers or specific business types.

This example shares the way New Old Stock might accumulate over decades and that there are likely going to be many parts, pieces, components, and even completed sub assemblies or fully assembled products that might one day be offered up or discovered through reorganization, space restructuring, inventory cleanout, a company auction or a business change of ownership.

Once again as you probably guessed it, the products are offered out as New Old Stock.

DISTRIBUTOR

A distributor is a buffer operation that is in place for a set of great reasons. They are for handling buyers of the manufacturer's products.

The distributor of products for manufacturers offer many services like inventory control, sales, shipping, returns, credit and in some cases sales assistance, education and awareness about current product offerings and the newest latest and greatest products coming into the distributor soon. This can be good or bad, and here is why we say this.

The distributor is in the business of representing the manufacturer:

  • THE GOOD
    They promote what they currently have to sell to an Other Equipment Manufacturer Business, VAR, Wholesaler, and Retailer partners.
     
  • THE BAD
    The distributor is also a great source of sharing insider information of what the manufacturer has coming through the pipeline and what that new and improved model is going to have and offer that perhaps the current ones the manufacturer makes might be lacking in their current abilities.

The distributor is the manufacturer's buffer as we mentioned. They are the ones that make the deals between the manufacturer and buyer from say, a retailer of a business that buys in volume for in-house use and manufacturing such things as sub assemblies or completed assemblies. Or in the making of their own products, other manufacturers components go into their final products and so forth.

This one really leads to many forms of potential New Old Stock coming on the market some day.

MANUFACTURER/OEM/OEM

  • Manufacturer
  • OEM (original equipment manufacturer)
  • OEM (other equipment manufacturers)

No matter the product we each discover under a shelf, in a backroom closet or on a pallet that is way up on top of a rack, they all started out in a manufacturing company.

Just name the item and it comes or came from a manufacturer. When a manufacturer decided to stop making a product or ends a product line, maybe they even just call it quits as a business, it is these 2 Manufacturer type OEM's that we believe are the absolute Holy Grail of the New Old Stock world. And they produced the opportunity that the NOS buyers discover at a later date.

The making of New Old Stock

Manufacturers OEM's (original equipment manufacturers) produce products and these products sell through to major OEM's (other equipment manufacturers).

These products also sell through to the distributors and on down the sales channel cycle based on estimated and pooled demand from other equipment manufacturers. Their distributors who through their retail, wholesaler and VAR accounts come up with projections of product demand, mostly based on consumer demand and economic projections and estimates.

Manufacturer fills the channel

From these projections and estimates, a manufacturer would setup a line to make the product based on the data estimates. They would produce the number of products (estimated demand) and send them through the channel all the way down to the retailer.

Other product makers that also make their own products may utilize (sometimes) other equipment manufacturers components into their designs and that creates additional demand for the manufacturer to send down the manufacturing lines and when applicable, the assembly lines.

The ending of the manufacturing cycle begins.

The product demand begins to slow or even stop

The consumer consumes these products until there is a newer model or product, another manufacturer has a better product or the product just falls out of demand from the consumer. In addition, the estimated consumer demand numbers are not what was projected, seasonal weather cycles, just name it and the production demand estimates are going to be off.

So the demand for the manufacturer's products begin to slow, sometimes faster then they can shut down the manufacturing or assembly lines meaning many extra products are produced, maybe completed, maybe just partially completed and everything in between.

What happens to these remaining manufactured products in the channel?

Remaining inventory from the manufacturer in the channel, on the manufacturing and assembly lines, products in stock or unshipped at the manufacturer's plant create some issues.

Here are several of the ways these remaining products are funneled through and out of the channel. Depending on the backflow of returns to the manufacturer that are based on the retailers, OEM's (other equipment manufacturers), VAR's (value added resellers) and distributors contracts and policies for returns with both the distributors and the manufacturers, determines what inventory is going where and what is going to happen to the inventory now, by year end and down the road say 4 or 5 decades from now.

Where does the manufacturer's inventory end up?

  • Some manufacturer inventory will remain in stock to support replacement products to the distributors who support the retailers and businesses that are end users for some time to come yet.
  • Some manufacturer inventory will be returned back through to the manufacturer and depending on the aftermarket demand, some will be shelved as extra support inventory for replacements, and warranties at the distributors and retailers.
  • Some inventory will be scrapped for parts, reused or recycled for metals.
  • Some inventory will be sold off to third party vendors.
  • Some inventory will be sold off to wholesalers that will attempt to sell it "as is", maybe at such a low price that it can now be utilized into a product from yet another end user product through the channel at much discounted prices and perhaps with no warranty.
  • Then finally the liquidators, they buy almost anything for pennies on the dollar, at or just over scrap value and try to generate some value for it. If not, they can always just scrap it as well.

AUCTION

There is the old auction method that were once a little known secret in the way New Old Stock was purchased from larger companies. Even the US Government would be holding future New Old Stock items no longer useful to them as inventory is taking up space.

You were a person known as the golden goose if you had the retail locations such as a chain of Army-Navy Surplus stores, electronic mechanical hobbyist parts store(s), creative retail outlets, etc., where you had access to the end-user buyers.

This auction method like many of the above sales channels, provided end-of-the-line buyer opportunities to purchase a lot of stuff really cheap and provided for others a chance to buy and then resale or utilize it themselves for their own projects over time.

Meet the Internet and Global Online Auctions

Now that we have the Internet and online auctioning, the need to buy and hold was replaced with buy today and sell it tomorrow. Also anyone can do this. Just show up to an auction, buy the goods at whatever price the bidders think they can still turn it for and make some margin.

These auction prices are now generally always higher priced then you used to get things at auction for and that is due to these two factors.

  • Access, what is anything worth selling for and what is the demand for the item is at each and every person's finger tips 24/7, 365 days a year.
     
  • People can research an up and coming auction anywhere and attend anytime. Generally people in current times have more access to money to buy the goods then once was possible.

Everyone is a seller with connections thanks to the Internet and online global auctions.

Items for sale pre-internet used to have a regional price. For example, a leather bicycle seat in New York might have one price while the same seat in the California beach coastline might have an even higher price because of the weather. Whereas today, the same item in New York, Japan, Israel, UK and even here in our own town of Yucca Valley, California, might now have the same price.

The location no longer discriminates who will pay how much for what. The demand switched from localized to global.

PRODUCT FLIPPING OR FLIPPERS ARE NOT NEW

Flipping of products in the shortest amount of time was always the business model. We bought a lot of merchandise from flippers looking to place items in a home and gain their invested money back for the next up and coming opportunity auction or estate sale, liquidations, you name it. So it is not new, just more automated through the Internet, meaning anyone with good New Old Stock of anything can simply place it online with no connections and sell it to the highest bidder. So these days, place it up online, list it correctly with a fixed price and sell it right away to a global market.

PLEASE MEET SOME OF THE NEW OLD STOCK PRODUCTS

This might also be described as New Unused Stock, New Original Stock or Surplus Stock. It does not matter, the end result is near the same.

Our thoughts on fashion

We do not know or cover fashion or fashionable trends.

This article is not about fashion items that fall out of trends, or styles that change as often as the season, that is just fashion's path.

We admit to having a brand new in the box, a pair of once opened and inspected Porsche Titanium sunglasses (originals) dating back to 1986 / 1987. The reason you want to stay away from fashion (as far as New Old Stock goes) is that like our pair of vintage Porsche sunglasses, they came out in the 2000's with remakes to follow the larger lenses (aviator style glasses) fashion trending demand of the sunglass industry. Meaning you could get a pair of what we have and look the same, though it is like a man made diamond versus a natural mined stone. in our opinion, it is about this pair being serial numbered, limited edition, titanium sunglasses.

Sneaker, Tennis shoes, collector shoes, these are just that, they are collector items. They have also been sold to the consumer meaning they no longer fit our interpretation of being New Old Stock items.

The above statement is by no means to say there is not value in collector shoes, this is not just about value, it is about the world of the New Old Stock.

Our passion for watches

Accutron New Old Stock Watch

As watchamerkers, watches are our most loved category in New Old Stock items which also includes the machines and tools that are used in the watchmaking trade.

Our favorite type of watches are those that contain complication watch movements. A Watch Compication is any additional function added to a watch movement in addition to just telling time. Examples would be a calendar, chronograph, power reserve, time zone, minute repeater, etc.. Another favorite watch type of ours is the Accutron watch based on the tuning fork movement which was first introduced and sold by Accutron in 1960.

An important note about purchasing NOS Watches is that you can not simply take it out of the box, wind it up and start wearing it. Because the watch has been sitting on the shelf for many years, the oils and greases have since dried up so the movement will not likely keep good time and worst, will likely cause permanent damage to the watch movement parts. This is very important for both the seller and buyer to understand this as the cost to have this watch serviced by a watchmaker will need to be calculated into the purchase or selling price.

Wristwatches are New Old Stock

  • Either Quartz or Mechanical watch movements, they both qualify.
  • Low cost & High cost wristwatches all climb in value after 40 plus years.

Because of what I am about to say here, it could be equally argued that glasses or sunglasses could also equally be classified more New Old Stock then just a product that has fallen out of the fashion cycle. Ok, carefully and with some level of caution here, you could call a pair of glasses or sunglasses from close to 50 years old or older, New Old Stock. Especially if that pair of glasses is still in the retailers inventory.

They need to in fact be called New Old Stock but only if they have never been worn. Not even once if lucky enough, they should have never been retail sold either and this is true because the lenses have the stickers still on them, tags are wired on and the glass frame arms are as stiff as a new shock absorber, etc.., clearly proving that the glasses are in fact New Old Stock, not just a pair of glasses where someone kept the box and papers to them and managed to not show any wear. Because those glasses would not be New Old Stock, they would be called used and worn, no matter how slight that wear may be.

Now about New Old Stock wristwatches & pocket watches

This sector was once a haven for people like us who were lucky to be in the know (pre-internet and before average people like we once were even new what a NOS was).

Having access to independently operated watch stores or jewelers that also carried wrist and pocket watches that would have to take a set number of watches from major manufacturers in order to be a dealer, came in handy.

See, those contract policies would likely not allow a dealer to make end of life returns and if they did, they would not get the latest releases. Meaning while they still might remain a dealer for the major brand, they would not get the absolute latest release or models in high demand, so they would only get a select few of them due to past performance ability to sell the inventory.

How the wristwatch and pocket watches are sold annually

Sell the watches at retail during the release time or sell them off when the newer models arrived was how it was and likely is still done today to some degree. Meaning you would either have a store sale, sell the old ones off near or at cost, list them in the jewelers trade book as for sale or trade or just place them on a shelf and deal with it later.

The jewelry trade, once having a book (later a computer driven inner connected BBS Bulletin Board System) that listed wanted items and items for sale or a place to put out a post for a needed item or available item, and wish for a sale or trade which even the dealer might buy something.

Collectibles are not New Old Stock

While the listed collectible items below might indeed be classified as New Old Stock at the retailer and back up the channel to the manufacturer, in the hands of the consumer, these items are collectibles and not new old stocks.

NOS is not about collectibles such as with the sneakers mentioned above, it is like coins though where we have some of these new and in the boxes but that is mostly what everyone that collects coins or any of those other collectibles like crystal figurines, beanie babies or anything else that is made in limited editions and intended to last a lifetime. The collectibles tend to stay in pristine shape since they were intended and sold to consumers to do just that, they look great for hundreds of years to come.

The products should all be well over 50 years in age

Most products should be closer to 50 years old to even 100 years or more as they are the most desired.

Remember that the term New Old Stock is becoming absolute or unknown, as the term "scrap and upgrade" is becomining more common as most current items are becoming disposable and many include electronics that are outdated annually or sooner because they are built to be software or firmware upgraded for only a period of time and then they are no longer able to be software or firmware upgraded, meaning they finally quit working or become to slow or obsolete to be of any usefulness.

Caution here:
You should be aware that demand and ability to use the item or even find someone that knows what it is comes in to play here, the New Old Stock product needs to be usable currently.

Example:
We have these Bodine motors here from many decades ago that we bought as well, decades ago from a dealer or a machine tool maintenance operation that was closing or going out of business, and we are using this product name as good example of a valid New Old Stock for several reasons.

Reason One:
It is a new, 100 plus years old and still in demand, though light demand for this motor. You can see the motor being from around 100 years ago at our Active Atom YouTube Channel in Shop Adventures 06 episode https://youtu.be/FdILMkekaHU and it is new and in the box, never been unpacked until we opened it to show how we are going to utilize it for a 100 year old plus German micro drill press installation we are currently working on.

This is a very specialized and unique application of parallel aged components meaning from the same time frame in history are used for historic machine rebuilding relevance when the ability is available to take advantage of.

Reason Two:
The company is still in business but does not make this motor type or style, and likely has not since the invention and common use of lubricated ball bearings on the armature shafts of the motors for which our 100 plus year old motor utilizes daily oilers that lubricate the motors oilite also known as oil impregnated bronze bearings, that is a pre ball bearing method.

Products made in small runs as needed

Built to last and built with the intension to easily be rebuilt.

In the past, products were mostly made to fill the needs of the business or consumer. These very products were not made in mass quantities by current standards, they were made mostly by simple automated assistance and by hand, and to meet lightly projected future demands, minus the war efforts that produced more of everything then was needed.

So as to not make too many of a single manufactured product, these items were also not made to be thrown away but to be serviced and rebuilt, and to last decades or even a century as technological advancements were not moving as they are at the current speeds.

Mass production shipped globally in advance, wanted or not are built to be disposable

In these current of times, most products are made in mass quantity by 100% total automation and while there is nothing wrong with this, it does basically end a term that made us popular and allowed these two childhood best friends and business partners to have a great time buying items no one longed for anymore. These same items of mass production are not really produced to be rebuilt, it is now easier to just throw out the old motor, component etc., and replace it with a new one or just replace the whole completed product sometimes.

We mention the example of our 100 plus years old Bodine motor because it is a name brand product that is well known in the machine, tool and manufacturing industries since 1905.

The name means quality and reliability, however these newer mass produced, high speed, production lines likely make more unknown name motors of similar performance requirements in a single day then a years worth of the one motor we are comparing to the Bodine motor example from above.

New Old Stock in the tech age

Technology and electronics software and firmware built into products is one giant issue to consider when seeking New Old Stock in the future.

We touched on this electronics issue earlier and as a reader, you should be made aware that we at Active Atom are electronic engineers and do not fear electronics in any product. We currently rebuild or repair our own computers, cell phones, flat panel televisions, motors and many other products to mention a few related to this electronics category.

It is just that the issue about long term support of a product containing heavy amounts of electronics in both the hardware, firmware and software upgrades should come with a word of caution to you that these are not going to perform like a newer product, even if you have a brand new one in the original packaging from the early 1990's.

Example:
Say you have a cell phone made in the 1990's, it was an analog phone back then (current cellular towers no longer support analog devices) whereas cell phones today are all digital. The battery life on these analog phones was only minutes, not hours and then there was the non-color black and white screen, no Internet access, no image sharing yet and so on, so you see the picture well now, right?

What is the legal description of New Old Stock?

New old stock is a product no longer produced, is preferably in its original box, wrappings, papers, oil coatings, cosmoline, etc.

The product must not have been used in any way or damaged while in long term storage.

The company that made the product can still be in business but they should not have made this product in the last 40 plus years or 50 plus years are preferred.

The New Old Stock product should be in its original box and it is perfectly fine to have had the box opened for image taking and verification, and that the product described on the outside of the original box is in fact the product that is within the box which has not experienced any damage.

NOTE:
While it might not make the product less attractive or useful, it needs to have the original books, warranties, instructions, booklets, etc. if at all possible to obtain maximum prominence and resale value.

FACT:
Sometimes for different reasons, NOS is known as New Original Stock. It is this way for the automotive parts business and might include many other OEM's (Original Equipment Manufacturers), we just do not technically know the full usage differences.

NO demand and NO value

Here is a tale of products from the parts and products that are New Old Stock but might have no value from the day they are discontinued or replaced with better items.

EXAMPLE:
So you own 1000 pieces of an item, the item was made in 1930, has not been produced since 1948 (that is 70 plus years) and each of these products are in their original boxes maybe wrapped in say wax paper as the product is made of metal and even has an original coating of cosmoline (rust and corrosion protection) applied to each.

The product is a cover for an engine made of cast iron, the engine is exclusive to a military generator that they made hundreds of thousands of for the war effort.

The part you have a 1000 of, are not a wear part, are not generally replaced unless the cast cover is broken and these generators are really old now, not used in real service and are more then likely to be found in a war museum and the remainder were long ago sold for repurposing or even for scrap. So while you can list the cast metal covers for sale on the internet, you are likely going to sell only one between now and the next 5 years and another in 10 years and so on. These type of items are technically useless and have no real value.

So the moral of the New Old Stock world is you might have some really great products, parts, or pieces perfectly packaged with all of the documentation, labels instructions and what have you for this or that, but unless there is a demand for it now or in the foreseeable future, you are holding only memories and some history in your inventory but no money likely now or ever.

How does an item made now become a New Old Stock item later on?

We actually do not have the answer. We can take a guess, after a bit of thinking about the current times and imagining the future a bit, minus hype from reality (flying cars, robots in our homes stuff) and give it our best thoughts.

We are going to need to know the future somehow to be for sure but as we see it, those times of walking into an eyeglass store asking the store operator if he has a really old vintage pair of frames that just did not ever sell and he shows a pair that were made in the USA in the 1960's. This actually happened to me and it is very unlikely to even happen again.

Could it be 50 to 70 years ago, a man thought that hey, they do not make things like they did at the turn of the century? Maybe we do not know but automation, technological advancements and such being what they are today and moving at the speed they are, even living in a throw it away economy means likely the days we are familiar with in the world of New Old Stock is going to be replaced with something new and equally exciting to the current and future generations.

Times change and so does the way the items, products and such are made, even the way people consume products have changed.

Currently even the smallest of retailers have inventory controls and great accounting software, we know as a small business at Active Atom and we have this software for accounting, meaning the old days of, if this or that is worth keeping track of, or do we just place these on a shelf in the back room are for the most part over. Everything in the building not bolted down is now tracked through inventory, accounting control and software systems.

We shared earlier but this is worth reiterating once again. There is an amount of technology touching every aspect of our lives and while this is a great thing and it truly is, it makes the world of New Old Stock an already tricky industry as it is, even more on edge in the way value is perceived and how products are likely to be gaining value in the next 50 to 100 years.

Only time will tell us what is to become of that miniature stack of little boxes in a watchmakers shop drawer or a warehouse pallet stacked with a bunch of boxed specialty motors or bicycle handlebars that are one day discovered way up on the top of a warehouse rack.

Are these items going to be of some or maybe great value or are they something you can either just order online by the hundred or just print one out on your home 3D printer?

NEW OLD STOCK RULES ON VALUE

There must be a current demand at some level, a market for the items.

New Old Stock needs to be 40 minimum years in age, best if older say 60 plus years or even 100 years to truly be a valuable New Old Stock item.

Country of Origin Products Buying

New Old Stock comes from many countries and in fact here is a list of the most likely countries that would have made products, parts and components in limited numbers, or that were built to last a lifetime.

  • United States of America
  • England
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Russia
  • Asian makers, there appears to be only two
  • Japan
  • Taiwan

Active Atom has an interest in New Old Stock for the following product types

  • Wristwatches
  • Wristwatch Parts
  • Wristwatch Movements
  • Watchmaker Machines
  • Watchmaker Tools
  • Machinery
  • Micro Machines
  • Machine Tools
  • Metal Working Tools
  • Machinery motors parts and accessories

In closing

We do in fact live in a different time, even the way products are presented to the buyer (the consumer) currently has changed.

Currently the way we market products globally is different due to the plentiful and available manufacturing run open time. The amount of materials and resources to make anything on the fly in mass quantities comes with great ease which in our opinion, the maker is totally unaware of the true demand for the products they produce.

Then we observe this.
Currently a company designs a product, produces millions of them and then makes a market for the product, creating the product and then telling the consumer, how have you lived your life this far along without having this or that?

Thank you for allowing us to share the past with you and for allowing us to make future predictions about the world that once was and might likely be again, the world of, and tale of, that is New Old Stock.

Lance Conway and Patrick Lara