The eBay Auction, Two Ways

I.

I put a rare Magic: The Gathering card set on eBay about a week ago. It’s quite old and a collectible: generally, the set, Antiquities, goes on eBay for around $650. First I took it to the comic book store of my childhood, and they offered me $280 cash or $500 in store credit. A more Magic-centric store in Los Angeles advised me to just put it online myself: “It’s not worth it—I’d rather get a bunch of new boxes and sell those immediately than have to take your set and mark it up and make a few bucks.” I’d started playing again and wanted to fund my new cards without dipping into savings. So eBay it was. 

I put the set up and within a few days, it had 18 watchers and four times as many hits. That number was up to 31 by Sunday morning. Until then, it had a single bid, at the reserve price of $500 that I’d set. Over the course of its final two hours, three people (including the original bidder) bid it up to over $600. I was nervous. Who watches the watchers, and reminds them they’re missing a bargain? With two minutes left, a fourth bidder entered. Then a fifth! Between 57 and 50 seconds to go, it jumped to $660. Then the automatic sniper bids, hiding behind the ramparts and rooftops of Gixen.com, fired their rifles. When the smoke cleared, 8 of the 31 watchers had bid, and the winner had earned the right to pay me $760.

II.

At the same time, I had another auction going. In Portland last May, I found a beautiful Pendleton blazer during an otherwise fruitless day of thrifting and swigging fresh-brewed kombucha. It fit perfectly. The fabric was strange, oddly thick but without the expected firmness and structure around the shoulders, but I bought it anyway. I was on vacation and it cost less than the day’s drinking, after all. Back in the hotel room, it dawned on me, the one-time writer of an oral history of menswear blogs, that the jacket’s idiosyncrasies—the shoulders, the wrong-sided button, the size 10 label—had an obvious explanation. It was not meant for me.

The jacket was a few sizes too large for my wife and waited awkwardly in my closet for months. After a dry-cleaning, it looked ready for a Parks & Recreation episode or a classy winter cocktail party. Surely it’d at least break even. But women’s Pendleton blazers, despite the brand’s century-old pedigree, remarkably soft fabrics, and the certain appreciation of Leslie Knope, are not what you might call a “hot deal.” A triumphant email arrived moments after the Magic notice: Sold, for $.99.

 

David Greenwald is a Los Angeles journalist/Magic: The Gathering player.

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3 Comments / Post A Comment

Megano! (#124)

Yeah, Pendleton is just not one of those brands that gets ladies all ready to drop the money. Burberry though…

faustbanana (#2,376)

@Megano! Ya, I think it’s one of those brands that’s exciting to seasoned thrifters, but not so much to the great unwashed masses looking for DEAL$$$.

allnighter86 (#2,676)

That sale of the Antiquities set make me cringe… I know this isn’t a MTG discussion board, but I have to chime in. The thing about the really old cards is that they are actually pretty powerful in the game these days, simply because no one ever sees them coming. You can do a lot of powerful combos with the right mix of old rares and new commons. Oh well, $760 is nothing to sneeze at…

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