I saw your article on the Wii shortage and in the spirit of the holiday I want to come clean and confess my consumer sins. I am a reseller.
I have resold : -3 Iphones (for 200 dollars over list, each) -5 Playstation3 consoles (for 300 to 500 dollars over list, each. A total of nearly 2000 in profit.) -10 Nintendo Wiis (each for 150 over list)
I started this side business with the release of the PS3. Months prior to launched to fund my purchase of one by buying five and reselling on Craiglist. I made the purchase on a credit card, in full, nearly 4 months before launch at a smaller electronics store in the Chicago suburbs…
I picked them up day of and listed them. By the end of the auctions I had made nearly 1000 dollar in excess of my own PS3 purchase. I ended up listing my own machine as well, as the demand was insane. All told, I cleared nearly 2000 dollars in profit. I still haven’t bought a PS3 actually.
I received death threats, e-mails from people saying I was “a monster” and someone claiming I was “selling her child’s Christmas away!” Someone even went so far as to contact Ebay and claim I was selling porn. People were livid at the profit being made.
The Iphone launch was even more insane. I saw people listing them on Craigslist just hours after launch for 800/900 bucks. So I went to the apple store in downtown chicago and bought 2, my girlfriend bought one as well. There was no line, it was the 30th of june, less than 24 hours after launch. I sold all three on Craigslist that night for 200 bucks over cost.
The Wiis have been a steady stream of income. I’m a casual video game player but I got to know the guy who runs my local Gamestop. He told me when they get their deliveries and said Wii’s were first come, first serve. Since the summer I’ve bought 10 of them and sold them for an average of 150 bucks over cost.
The Wiis are the where I feel some degree of guilt. After a year they’re still ridiculously rare. I’d really advise people to get to know their game-sellers. Think of what the average gamestore employee gets treated like by hyper kids, angry parents and surly trade-in people. Treat them as people, give them some empathy and chat them up a bit and they’ll happily get you in the know. They’re not breaking any laws or company policy, just helping out a ‘valued customer’.
The managers are the best to get to know. Their turnover is usually quote low. They usually work on new release days, especially for big games. Coming in when the store is slow (before school lets out) is a good time.
Avoid big box stores. Total waste of time. Their turnover rate of employees are ridiculous. No chance to build up a relationship. These stores also keep a very watchful eye on employees, so a lot of them might be nervous about anything that might get them in trouble. Even the “appearance of impropriety” can be enough.
Should you buy from me or other resellers? First and foremost, if you’re buying something for more than retail, you’re paying what I like to call “FIRSTIES!” tax. You want to be the first guy at the office to have an Iphone? Or have the first PS3 video on youtube? What is it worth to you? I sold two iphones to one guy who simply wanted to show it off to his fellow lawyers at court. One of the PS3 fans who bought from me wrote me a page long message of thanks. He’d just paid nearly a grand for a 600 game console and he could not stop thanking me.
I’ve had people in my life question the morality of what I’ve done. One friend stopped talking to me altogether, saying that the money I’d made selling Wiis was “like taking candy from kids”. To me, that’s nonsense.
I’ve never bribed anyone, lied to anybody or stalked any stores. I’d never camp out, never grabbed something from a kid or fought shoppers. Actually, I hate shopping, I do most of my buying online and deal hunt, comparison shop and consult sites like consumerist.
Look, if you really want an item, wait for it to be plentiful. The rush on stores, the camping the fighting? That’s a mug’s game. The people who I’ve sold things to…frankly…I don’t think they’re very bright. They’ve certainly helped me (paid off most of my car, rent for a couple months, some nice dinners with friends, plenty of books) but I think they were ultimately being led on by media hype and greed frenzy. Paying twice the price for something you can usually wait a while and get on sale? Not worth it.
-Garrett (a reseller)
Have you ever bought a hyped up product from someone like Garrett? Ever sold something on eBay or Craigslist for more than you paid for it? Why did you do it?