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I Sold My Childhood on eBay
eBay, at its core, is about buying and selling. But what are we really
trading? Is it just the china bowl or the My Little Pony? Or is it
something deeper within ourselves?
Here's a silly, existential analysis of my eBay selling experience.
Vintage My Little Pony set of 2 babies from 1984 --- $51.95
Vintage Bluebird Polly Pocket children's hospital --- $61.09
Childhood mementos from the '80s and '90s --- priceless
There are two categories of sales made on eBay. In the first category, customers look for items that they can buy cheaper on eBay than in stores. In the second category, sellers advertise older or vintage items that are no longer sold in stores and can therefore be purchased only in a venue like eBay. I sell items that belong in the latter category. During extended breaks from school, I sell old toys from the '80s and '90s. I sell such brand names as My Little Pony, Polly Pocket, Barbies, Pretty Little Kitties, and Magna Doodle. These toys were mine. I played with them. I did not buy them for the purpose of selling them for a profit. They were well-loved for a long time, but well-forgotten for even longer. Finally, I dug them out of storage after my parents repeatedly threatened to throw them all out, and I decided to see what use I could make of them fifteen years later.
Seeing each toy, dusting the aged plastic, conditioning the decades-old synthetic hair, I got lost for awhile in nostalgia. I remembered wrestling with my brother for control of the magnetic drawing board, each of us determinedly trying to erase the brilliantly executed Rembrandt copy the other had sketched. I recalled pretending that two lavender-colored plastic cats were married and had two kittens, the dirtier of which was the outcast of the family. My lingering attachments to the toys prevented me for a time from selling them, but finally, after extensive research on eBay's selling policies and its vintage toy market, I tentatively put a My Little Pony figure up for bid. The single pony sold for $15. So ended my trip through my memories, and so began my greatest business venture to date.
My eBay enterprise taught me volumes more about the business world than
the entire semester of the Business 200 class I took sophomore year of
college. I learned the true meaning of supply and demand. I learned the
vital importance of marketing and pricing
in determining the market value of a given item. I learned about the
different types of buyers and sellers, about the value of a good and
trustworthy reputation, about frugality of both words and financial
investments. I taught myself how to use PayPal, how to cash money orders, how to send packages of all sizes and destinations, including internationally, via the US Postal Service.
I was somewhat surprised to learn that, above all, the key to business is honesty. We hear about smarmy car dealers and corporate scandals like Enron, and we assume that most business employees are dirty dealers and must lie and cheat the customers to succeed. Not so on eBay. For every step of the selling process, honesty is the most important business strategy to make money. First, and most importantly, I am honest in my description of the item. All of my toys are used, and I say so; even if they are extremely well preserved, I do not try to pass them off as new. Such a falsehood could produce undesired consequences for both the buyer and me. What if the buyer were a savvy collector who meticulously examines each eBay purchase for signs of age or playwear? If he sees even a tiny flaw, evidence that the toy is not new, then he knows that my description was a flat-out lie. He becomes angry. He has two options. He can demand a refund and mail me back the toy, or he can merely leave me negative feedback.
Feedback is a rating system that shows the public eBay world if a user is a good buyer or seller to work with. I have a public rating of 160, which means that I have 160 public comments from other members who categorized our interactions as positive (a green plus sign). In the hypothetical situation with the dissatisfied buyer, he could leave me a negative comment with a red minus sign, ruining my reputation and showing potential buyers that Fummergirl is an untrustworthy seller. To make a few extra bucks, I would have unwisely sacrificed my business reputation.
EBay is all about making trades and sacrifices. Collectors trade in their hard-earned money so that I will sacrifice my childhood mementos. I truly sold my childhood on eBay. I gave up what was important to me as a child in order to gain the knowledge necessary to succeed as an adult.
eBay Books on Amazon
- eBay Encyclopedia: Terms to Know Before Selling on eBay or Starting an eBay Business
eBay is more than just buying and selling. Learning the terms and concepts can help you be more successful on eBay.