Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Selling on eBay

After I retired I began selling on eBay. It's been a lot of work and a lot of fun. I've met roughly 40 eBayers from the US and a couple of other countries, first by hanging around an eBay forum, then by attending book fairs and get-togethers, then by visiting individuals and having them visit me.

I find items to sell by attending garage sales, estate sales, and auctions. I'm a generalist - this means I know a little about a lot of things but I don't know much about anything. I'll buy nearly anything I think I can sell for a few dollars more than I pay for it. Nearly anything. I stay away from clothing, jewelry, and a few other things because I know even less than "not much" about them.

You learn as you go. Initially you find yourself being surprised that the treasures you bought are common as dirt on eBay. While that never quite stops, over time it happens much less frequently.

Once in a while I have fun writing a listing. Perhaps there just isn't much to say about it or perhaps I just get silly. Here's an example from a couple of years ago - listing title, picture, and the body of the listing:

Stoopid 12 Inch White Clay Pipe


    I was at an estate sale and saw a foot long, white clay pipe. Secretly waiting for someone to get away from some things I wanted to examine, I had looked around for something that would justify my lingering presence in that particular area.

    The price tag attached to the pipe was blank. "Aha! I can pretend to be interested in this pipe." I turned the tag over and the other side was blank too.

    Oh frabjous day!. The perfect cover! I carried the pipe several feet to one of the estate sale people and asked what the price was. "This didn't get priced? I'll just mark it two dollars."

    And then, and then . . . in a complete disconnect from my original purpose, in a moment of insanity unjustified by anything that has ever happened to me, I said, "I'll take it."

    So now I own it, and now you know what I paid for it. The trouble is that I'm not sure it's worth that much because of the following issues:

    • Is it unfinished? Is that why it's white?

    • The hole at the drawing end is very small. Intrigued, I tried inhaling through it. Hernia time. Then I tried blowing through it. Less painful, but equally ineffective.

    • Tests show that you can inhale through the bowl end successfully. However, it occurs to me that if there were burning tobacco coals in the bowl then the process might inflict agonies unimaginable, the lips being very sensitive.

    • Even if you could smoke it, what would you do with it when not actually inhaling? It's too long to set into an ashtray. You know perfectly well that someone would walk by and knock it out of the ashtray. And it won't stand up. See that little knob under the bowl? That's to make sure it won't stand up. You could make it stand up if you turn the bowl upside down, but you see the problem there, right?

    • It has been suggested that white might be good for a leprechaun's pipe, going well with green and all (thanks, Babe). But what are the risks associated with giving a leprechaun a hernia? I've heard that leprechauns can be vengeful. And do leprechauns even surf eBay? Is there a www.ebay.le?

    Well, here it is, and what you do about it is up to you. There are no cracks or chips, no repairs and none needed. The stem contains no teeth marks, not even mine. The white of the stem is less than perfect due to abrasions or to imperfections in the creating process or something. I don't wanna hear about this if you buy the pipe.
Okay, that's the end of it. I got $5.06 for it and was grateful. And along the way I learned that such pipes were (are?) made for taverns, which provided them for pipe smoking patrons. The patron broke off a piece of the stem, filled the bowl, and smoked.

Interesting, no?


Anonymous said...

Great write up on the pipe....more work than I am willing to do. Fun one to read.

BrokenDownProgrammer said...

Thank you.

Well, I normally didn't (and don't) list anything on eBay for less than $9.99, at least the first time around.

But I sure wasn't going to get $9.99 for this. I *still* can't believe I bought it. I decided that if I was going to get *anything* for it then the best way was to have fun with it.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha...From the BB. And your Sunday post -- now I know why you call them the "junk mail friends"...

Devonia said...

I remember this...