01st Mar2012

Pimps Up, Toys Down

by Will

Ever since I opened Will’s World of Wonder, I’ve dealt with situations I never really thought I’d encounter. Since I don’t feel like writing about comics or thrifting, I thought I’d give you a peek at the travails of the online e-seller.

Surprisingly, the venture hasn’t required too much promotion, as the items appear in Google searches. Sales were amazing right before Christmas, as most of my business seemed to be stay at home moms doing online gift shopping. After the holidays, however, things slowed down. That’s when I explored other channels to get the word out – facebook groups, Craigslist, message boards, etc. Throughout these interactions, I’ve begun to realize that it’s not that much different from online dating or (so I’ve heard) dealing with a john. People wait til they see what they’re looking for, you strike up a conversation, and you hope to make something happen. Even though it’s toys and not a lifelong relationship (or easy sex), the highs and lows are still the same.

Recently, I’ve joined a SHITLOAD of online groups, from 80s toy collectors to toy traders to what I’ll call the “justified scalpers”. Oh, you don’t know what a justified scalper is? Those are what I call the folks who buy up all the good toys, and then pop online saying, “I grabbed all the Marvel Legends at Toys “R” Us, so let me know what you need.” They feel justified because they’re not necessarily charging a mark-up, but their actions are still preventing others from being able to buy the toys.

What gets me, though, is that they also don’t seem to understand supply and demand. They seem to think there’s a magical, neverending stockpile back at the warehouse just waiting to be shipped out. So, they hop on and say “Make sure to check your local Targets because mine had the latest wave of DCUC and I BOUGHT THE WHOLE CASE. I had them check the other Targets in the area, and I’m gonna make a few more stops on the way home. Hehe.” Thanks, asshole. You just cornered the market. Sure, it’s a small market, but it’s cornered nonetheless. If you live in a town with 2 Targets, and they’re the only ones carrying a particular line, if you hit them ALL and bought up all the cases, you have effectively cornered that market for your area. And it’s not like you have 64 friends who need the figures. No, you’re “just helping out fellow collectors” . The best way this plays out is if they return them after a few days, but most either keep them for trading fodder or, worse, end up charging $30 for a $15 figure. Oh, and did I mention that they’ve opened the figure, and removed the build-a-figure piece? Anyway, long and short of it is that I’ve interacted with a lot of different people.

It all starts about the same way. Instead of waiting for them to come to me, I go looking for them. I spend some time online, and when someone posts “I’m looking for a G.I. Joe Rise of Cobra Gunship”, that’s when I pounce. Send ’em a link, and tell them to PM me if interested. They message me, asking what I’m looking for in exchange, which always frustrates me because there’s clearly a price listed if they had simply clicked the link. Anyway, I do the dance, and repeat the price. Then, they ask about shipping. Again, the shipping is listed. If I can ship cheaper, I refund the difference, but I don’t have time to run searches on each and every zip code. OK, so after the volley, if everything goes well, you’ve got a transaction.

Sometimes, though, these people throw you for a loop. Everything is going well, and then they tell you “Oh, by the way, you’ll have to ship to The Netherlands.” THE NETHERLANDS?! I don’t even know where the fuck The Netherlands are! Do I look like Carmen Sandiego?! Why are you doing business with Americans? Why didn’t you tell me this in the beginning? It’s seriously like a betrayal. I thought we were gonna make things happen, and now I have to worry about this distance and whether or not you’re on board to do what it takes to make this work. Real grown folk drama!

Anyway, I’ve told you enough of my secrets. I think you should pay me back by buying something from me. Go, make it happen. Unless you live in the damn Netherlands. I’ve already been down that road.