Herbalism and the AH.
My joy, my pain.
The AH and Herbalism have been my best friend ever since I hit my mid 20's and a RL friend of a RL friend (hi, I know you're stressing about your move to a new/old city, but stop lurking and throw me a comment ;-) told me about gathering (I didn't even have any professions yet at that point) and Auctioneer Addon.
Anything and everything went to AH and with not a whole lot of fuss I just used Auc's recommended prices and everything was dandy. Sure there was the occasional stack of herbs that needed re-listing, and sure there was a bit of playing around to see whether ores or smelted bars sell better, but in general, no brainer, just major cash influx.
Then all of a sudden, something strange happened. About 2 weeks ago, my high level herbs started expiring pretty frequently. Like I said, I pretty much don't even look at the price and just use Auctioneer's valuation, and its always worked for me.
Well, now I took a look. Seems that over the past couple weeks, prices of my favorite high-level herbs are plumetting. Fel Lotus was a sweet little bonus from random herb nodes, and used to go for about 19g for a single herb without ever expiring. 2 weeks later and they're selling for 12g. And even when I match the competition at near 12, they're still expiring. Where will it end?
Similar patterns (although not quite as extreme) for Felweed, Terocone, Mana Thistle, Dreaming Glory, and Nightmare Vine. All my top shelf herbs are bombing. Prices are falling fast, and even at competitive prices, they're not selling.
The past 2 weeks have shown that this is not just the normal weekend/weekday sales pattern, and the general trend persists through the entire week.
Thinking with my business hat on, that says to me that either supply is up, or demand is down.
Since the herbs are barely selling, even as I lower my price, I'm going to go with the assumption that the issue is on the demand side. I mean, if it were just that supply went up a lot, at least some of my competitvely priced herbs would sell, just not as often as in the past.
If my assumption is correct, then demand has dropped.
Who uses herbs? Alchemists primarily.
So where did all my alchemists go?
The rest of this post is purely theoretical and made up in my mind, so work with me. My version of economic theorycrafting...
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the high level alchemists make their potions for raiding. If nobody is making these potions, then I'll make the leap to the conclusion that there's been a change in the raiding scene on my server in the past few weeks.
Three things pop into mind:
1) Thanksgiving was here and now we're full-steam-ahead into the holilday season. This is my first year playing, so perhaps this is a normal pattern.
2) Patch 2.3 came out recently. From what I read, and my limited ability to really understand what patch notes mean to me, there was nothing that dramatically should cause a change to high level Alchemy. The only thing that I noticed from a Herbalism stand point is that Fel Blossom is no longer soulbound, and can now be sold on AH, but I noticed that from experience, and not from the patch notes.
3) This one is my favorite...there's going to be a collapse/depression on my server soon. Maybe a hardcore raiding guild had a big falling out and split up or had a bunch of players transfer off. Or maybe some random threshold in the economy has been crossed and cats and dogs will soon be living together, mass hysteria. Glad I got my epic before that happens :-P
Its probably just a random blip in the scheme of the economy, or seasonal and very normal. But I like to believe its chaos and hysteria, just because that's more fun.
Luckily I diversify and my minerals are still selling nicely.