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Subject: Thrifting for Profit rss

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Rob Frey
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So I'm at the thrift store, looking through the board games, and this guy comes up and starts scanning the UPCs on the board games and puzzles one by one and picking up certain ones as he goes. It's obvious that he has no idea about the games, because he's scanning everything, including games that are obviously worthless (and stupid). His cart is also full of books, because before he did this he did the same thing in the book isle, scanning books and picking up anything his phone told him might net a profit.

And I don't know how I should feel about this. If he at least didn't have the phone I think I'd feel better about him. Then he'd have to know something about board games and what to look for, he would have to of studied them, and maybe even had an interest in them. As it stands, he's just using a computer to cherry pick anything worthwhile for the sole purpose of reselling it on ebay or wherever it is he sells his stuff, and the only people getting screwed are people who like board games, both the ones paying this guy a premium over what he paid when they buy from him, and the people who would've bought it at the thrift store when they noticed it if this guy hadn't gotten to it with his smart phone first.

In theory there's nothing wrong with what he's doing. I'm all for the free market and everything it brings, and maybe this guy is helping distant people get to the used goods they want and he deserves a finder's fee for that. But watching him in the store, I couldn't help but wish something horrible would happen to him, because he's pure scum.

I'm also thinking he's why I never find anything worthy of thrift store find of the week.
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Eddy Sterckx
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Robertjo wrote:
and maybe this guy is helping distant people get to the used goods they want and he deserves a finder's fee for that.


Exactly. Spot on. Nothing wrong with that.



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John Drake
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Robertjo wrote:
But watching him in the store, I couldn't help but wish something horrible would happen to him, because he's pure scum.

I'm also thinking he's why I never find anything worthy of thrift store find of the week.


Pure scum... really?

The guy is no different than the thrift store or any store for that matter; he is providing a service and that service exists because there is a market demand for that. There is nothing wrong with that... in fact, helping people obtain products is highly admirable and it is what makes the free market so beneficial. And boardgames being a type of entertainment, which no one needs, it is asinine to to argue that games need some price control.

I suspect this has less to do with his service and more to do with him competing against your interest.
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The only way he would be in the wrong and "pure scum" would be if he was conning others into selling him valuables at a really discounted price. In this case he's just buying merchandise being offered at the ticketed price and reselling to others in search of said item.

Seems fine with me.
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Rob Frey
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apocalyp wrote:
The only way he would be in the wrong and "pure scum" would be if he was conning others into selling him valuables at a really discounted price. In this case he's just buying merchandise being offered at the ticketed price and reselling to others in search of said item.

Seems fine with me.


I don't think you understand. In thrifting or garage saling, the idea is to find something cool or valuable. This man is cheating!
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Jamie Bird
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Robertjo wrote:


I don't think you understand. In thrifting or garage saling, the idea is to find something cool or valuable. This man is cheating!


Are you sure you just don't like it because he's lowering your chances of finding that elusive bargain?

And what if you found that cool or valuable thing and then went on to sell it - would that then make you 'pure scum'?
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Rob Frey
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BaBang wrote:
Robertjo wrote:
But watching him in the store, I couldn't help but wish something horrible would happen to him, because he's pure scum.

I'm also thinking he's why I never find anything worthy of thrift store find of the week.


Pure scum... really?

The guy is no different than the thrift store or any store for that matter; he is providing a service and that service exists because there is a market demand for that. There is nothing wrong with that... in fact, helping people obtain products is highly admirable and it is what makes the free market so beneficial. And boardgames being a type of entertainment, which no one needs, it is asinine to to argue that games need some price control.

I suspect this has less to do with his service and more to do with him competing against your interest.


Most definitely. He snatched a Masters of the Universe 3-D action game before I noticed it. Sure it probably didn't have all the pieces, and if it did I would've played it like one time and then thrown it into the closet, but still that pissed me off.

I could argue that the only reason there is demand for these games might be because in the buyer's home town there's another guy like this going around the thrift stores buying up all the cool games with a UPC scanner.

I don't think board games are so popular that this is an actual problem yet, but in other niche hobbies that have managed to create a small demand speculators have stepped in and jacked up the prices by creating a scarcity when they buy up a product in hopes of reselling it at a profit. This has happened with comic books, with toys, and with new video games.

Ultimately all these people are is middle men. They don't create anything. They don't really contribute anything to society. They just inflate the price of the product. In the case of this guy he isn't even taking an investment risk, since he's only buying items his phone said he can sell at a profit.

The people who end up being hurt are the hobbiests, because now they have to pay a higher price because of this false scarcity. And the thrift shop customers, who are denied their found treasures. And the thrift stores themselves, because why the hell am I (or anyone) going to keep wasting my time in thrift stores if this guy is just going to get there before me with his phone and take everything worth buying.

I never said price controls or anything like that. The last thing we need is government regulations of thrift stores. I'm just saying I didn't like what I saw when this guy came by in the thrift store. Pretty sure I've just convinced myself I was right to feel that way.

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Rob Frey
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Ingulphus wrote:
Robertjo wrote:


I don't think you understand. In thrifting or garage saling, the idea is to find something cool or valuable. This man is cheating!


Are you sure you just don't like it because he's lowering your chances of finding that elusive bargain?

And what if you found that cool or valuable thing and then went on to sell it - would that then make you 'pure scum'?


The UPC scanner on the phone is the cheating part
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Kristen Umansky
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I think it's fine. I have a garage sale every year and this same dude comes every year and scans all my books and DVDs. I'm too lazy to sell them off individually, and he doesn't talk me down in price like everyone else so whatever. I asked him what he does and he mostly sells used books online. That's how he supports his family and has grown a successful business doing so. Good for him!
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Dan Edelen
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I finally had to stop active thrifting, save for the "right next to the store, stupid NOT to stop in" kind of visit, because between the scanners, the daily pickers, and the reduced quality of selection, I was not finding anything decent anymore. It was junk all the time at the three stores I regularly visited.

If my nearest Goodwill had not closed, maybe it would be different, but I just sense that something has changed for the worse in my area for thrifting games, and I was spending more money driving between stores than I was making up in finding games for my collection or ones that I could add to trades or could sell outright.

Lastly, as to the "scum" label, no human being is scum.

That said, my hope is that if someone is scanning items simply for resale that he or she at least has some appreciation for what is being sold. If someone finds a Heroquest on the shelf or a first edition Forster novel that it means something to them more than just the monetary value. I mean, I still retain a sense of appreciation when I find a game on the shelf I know is a good game, even if I already own it or know it won't have a ton of resale value to make picking up worthwhile. "Oh, look, a copy of Bohnanza. Cool. I wonder who dropped that off here?" I want to believe that we humans today retain some level of fascination with the little things of life, like wondering what kind of bird that was we just saw or if that car that just drove by is a new model because we've not seen one like it before. I want to hope that this is still the case, but I fear that every day it is less true than it once was.
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John Drake
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Robertjo wrote:

Ultimately all these people are is middle men. They don't create anything. They don't really contribute anything to society.


So stores contribute nothing to society? After all, they are just middle-men that hike the prices that the manufacturer sets.

Robertjo wrote:

They just inflate the price of the product. In the case of this guy he isn't even taking an investment risk, since he's only buying items his phone said he can sell at a profit.


Then isn't he simply providing a product set by the demand of the market? How is he inflating the prices when he is clearly buying games based on their real-time value?


Robertjo wrote:

The people who end up being hurt are the hobbiests, because now they have to pay a higher price because of this false scarcity.


They HAVE to buy these games? For a second I thought you were talking about food, water, and shelter... but no, you are talking about board games. How does anyone force someone to buy a game? And if hobbyist have some "right" to games at a low price, should be quarter and hang Splotter for creating excellent games at a high price? I mean... how dare them... I have a RIGHT to antiquity and I want it for $50 with shipping and handling.


Robertjo wrote:

And the thrift shop customers, who are denied their found treasures.


Now we are getting at the real issue. It isn't so much about him... it's about the fact that he is competing against your interest. This is like high-school boys getting mad at other guys for "stealing all the hot chicks;" It is silly.



But really, if this is such a huge moral issue with you... why not create a non-profit organization. Spend each day with your cell phone, checking prices, and selling games to gamers at no profit. Oh wait... that kind of sounds like a job doesn't it? Perhaps something that people would only do if they were paid for. And being that we are talking about games, it sounds a bit absurd right?
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Liam
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I have volunteered in charity shops for years. Frankly, I welcome dealers coming in as they often buy in bulk and are a guaranteed way to sell high end items quickly.

There is a caveat though, charity shops need to ensure that they are valuing their stock correctly and not simply 'giving it away' (this hurts the cause, doesn't respect donators and can result in dealers removing all the good stock, resulting in a poor experience for other customers).

For a well run shop, dealers are a positive not a negative. If they can make a living out of it, after the charity has gained the market value for the item, good for them.
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Peter Thur
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Robertjo wrote:

Ultimately all these people are is middle men. They don't create anything. They don't really contribute anything to society. They just inflate the price of the product. In the case of this guy he isn't even taking an investment risk, since he's only buying items his phone said he can sell at a profit.


He's taking the risk to have lots of old games in the basement he won't sell. He's wasting prcious lifetime searching for things he doesn't care about. So yes, he may make a profit if he finds the right buyer.
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Ed G.
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I did this for a while. I didn't scan anything, but I used my knowledge of board games and occasionally used my phone to research something I'd found on the spot. I tried to sell the items via eBay. Some sold; some didn't. Some are for trade here on BoardGameGeek and the others that didn't sell I donated, so are likely back at the same thrift shops from which I purchased them.

For the few items I sold, I made only a few dollars. The goal was to fund or at least somewhat offset purchases of games I wanted or other hobby items with the money from the sales. If I'd factored in my time, cost of shipping materials, and other overhead I'm sure this little endeavor came out as a loss. So I stopped.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Robertjo wrote:
apocalyp wrote:
The only way he would be in the wrong and "pure scum" would be if he was conning others into selling him valuables at a really discounted price. In this case he's just buying merchandise being offered at the ticketed price and reselling to others in search of said item.

Seems fine with me.


I don't think you understand. In thrifting or garage saling, the idea is to find something cool or valuable. This man is cheating!
From a market allocation perspective the best outcome is for the person who values the game most to get the game, and the person who owns the game to get the most money possible.

Assuming that all the people who value the game have disposable income to spend on the game, this can be achieved by the seller pricing the game at the maximum that a buyer is willing to pay. The buyer who wants it most will pay more than anyone else and get the game he values and the seller gets the most money.

The problem (from a market allocation perspective) is imperfect information. The buyers who would pay a higher price for the game don't know it is for sale at the thrift shop, and the thrift shop doesn't know that there are buyers who would pay a lot more. This allows the item to be mispriced... Which means the seller doesn't get all the money they could, and buyers who wanted the game more than you, ie. buyers who were willing to pay more, don't get a game they wanted.

Now I realize this is great for you... at least when you find the underpriced game. But if you've ever seen someone else buy a game you really wanted, like maybe a non-gamer who you know will just get confused by the rulebook and then throw the game in the closet never to be played again, and they buy it for a price you thought was a bargain, then you probably can understand why it might be considered "unfair".

Since there is a mispricing in the market, there is an opportunity for profit. The guy scanning the items steps in and gets the profit when he resells the game for a higher price. The game goes to someone who wanted it more and the difference in price between the thrift shop's price and the higher market price goes to the scanner-guy.

Alternatively, when you buy the game first, the game goes to someone who didn't want it as much as people who would pay the market price. So the seller doesn't get as much as he could and the game doesn't go to someone who valued it most. The scanner-guy is actually allowing a better market solution, whereas you buying the game is great for you at the expense of the seller and everyone else who would have paid a higher price.

I think it's a bit extreme to call someone scum here. But if anyone is "unfairly" abusing the system, it's the person who wouldn't buy the game at market price but gets a great deal on it.
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    Nah, scum is the group of four guys that I saw doing the same thing that stepped in front of me and said, "we have this aisle for the moment" so I couldn't walk in to take anything ahead of them. (This is 2nd Avenue in Laurel Maryland.) I'm a six foot, 49 year old man and I was in a business suit at the time so I said "no you don't" and walked past. They let me through. Rank has it's privileges.

    There was nothing there worth going after. But at the last moment I thought to grab a game out from the bottom of a pile and walk away with it anyway.

    I'd be curious to see what the hourly wage is for someone doing this. Gas, time, sales commission, I can't imagine it pays very well. there's a shitload of Scene It boxes out there that won't pull fifty cents in revenue.

             S.


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Thunkd wrote:


From a market allocation perspective . . . blah blah blah . . . but if anyone is "unfairly" abusing the system, it's the person who wouldn't buy the game at market price but gets a great deal on it.


    I think you're missing what the game is in this scenario. He's playing it real life -- it isn't the boxes on the shelf.

             S.


 
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monkeyhandz wrote:
I have volunteered in a charity shops for years. Frankly, I welcome dealers coming in as they often buy in bulk and are a guaranteed way to sell high end items quickly.

There is a caveat though, charity shops need to ensure that they are valuing their stock correctly and not simply 'giving it away' (this hurts the cause, doesn't respect donators and can result in dealers removing all the good stock, resulting in a poor experience for other customers).

For a well run shop, dealers are a positive not a negative. If they can make a living out of it, after the charity has gained the market value for the item, good for them.

This. A thousand times this.

I strongly object to pointless middlemen - those that insert themselves into transactions where they aren't needed (dealers creating artificial scarcity in niche hobbies for example), but this isn't one of those cases. Supermarkets are fine - they get the goods from the warehouse, and resell them to me at a higher price, but they provide me the service of gathering all those goods in one location, near to my home.

I think this case is like that. He was providing the service of taking things from the shop and making them more available to gamers.

Edit: I forgot to add, they are providing another service. They are helping the charity shop to clear their stock more rapidly, making room for other things.
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old_gamer wrote:

I think this case is like that. He was providing the service of taking things from the shop and making them more available to gamers.


    Ok, just for the record, this place will eviscerate Troll & Toad (more or less monthy) for doing exactly this, but a schmoe with an iPhone (who may work for Troll & Toad for all anyone knows) gets credited for providing a valuable service. I don't give a damn either way, but I just want to point out that the wind shifted 175 degrees in about 2 seconds.

             S.


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Sagrilarus wrote:
old_gamer wrote:

I think this case is like that. He was providing the service of taking things from the shop and making them more available to gamers.


    Ok, just for the record, this place will eviscerate Troll & Toad (more or less monthy) for doing exactly this, but a schmoe with an iPhone (who may work for Troll & Toad for all anyone knows) gets credited for providing a valuable service. I don't give a damn either way, but I just want to point out that the wind shifted 175 degrees in about 2 seconds.

             S.




What do Troll & Toad do that people object to? I'm not familiar with this.

Note that 'this place' is not a monolith. I'm sure a lot of the people objecting to whatever T&T do would also object to charity shop reselling.
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Robertjo wrote:
apocalyp wrote:
The only way he would be in the wrong and "pure scum" would be if he was conning others into selling him valuables at a really discounted price. In this case he's just buying merchandise being offered at the ticketed price and reselling to others in search of said item.

Seems fine with me.


I don't think you understand. In thrifting or garage saling, the idea is to find something cool or valuable. This man is cheating!


I'm sorry but could you point me to the rules in thrifting and garage saling?

I doubt at the end of the day this person is making a killing.

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Sagrilarus wrote:
old_gamer wrote:

I think this case is like that. He was providing the service of taking things from the shop and making them more available to gamers.


    Ok, just for the record, this place will eviscerate Troll & Toad (more or less monthy) for doing exactly this, but a schmoe with an iPhone (who may work for Troll & Toad for all anyone knows) gets credited for providing a valuable service. I don't give a damn either way, but I just want to point out that the wind shifted 175 degrees in about 2 seconds.

             S.




I've personally never seen T&T get talked about on here but at the end of the day it's rarely worth it for companies to spend time going to thrift stores. If they do I have no problem with it either.
 
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Chris
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We don't use the term "Thrift shop" in the UK so I might be misunderstanding exactly what a thrift shop is, but presuming it's the same as a Charity Shop as Wikipedia suggests, then the objective is not to have bargains or rare things, it's to make money for people in need. How you you ever resent someone buying lots of things from a shop like that for any reason?

There's an alternative thing we have here that I think is done worldwide, freecycle. Whilst there's no charity here, the point is "I've got stuff I don't want, please take it away". And here there are plenty of people crawling the lists to pick up great freebies etc, and people there get huffy about that too. The point is to get rid of stuff, not to be doing some ego inflating piece of social work, giving your cast offs to the poor people.
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A friend of mine had a brisk business in "Amish romance novels" which she supplied through thrifting and then selling books on ebay.

Apparently these clean romance novels sell like hotcakes to a certain market segment.

She too used a scanner on her phone and was all business about it.

I could never put that much work into something with so little return, but she enjoyed it, I guess.

I tried tentatively to buy at the Good Will and sell on ebay with one item I thought was a sure thing, nope. The scanner people know a lot more than I do about market forces and what sells, so I stay out of it!

If I see a game at the thrift store, great... I get it for myself, only.

Edit: Freecycle is great! If you haven't looked it up in your area, do so. Wonderful concept.
 
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TheRocketSurgeon wrote:
We don't use the term "Thrift shop" in the UK so I might be misunderstanding exactly what a thrift shop is, but presuming it's the same as a Charity Shop as Wikipedia suggests, then the objective is not to have bargains or rare things, it's to make money for people in need.
While there are thrift shops that are done to make money for people in need, there's nothing in the American use of the term "thrift shop" that necessarily implies that. It simply refers to a store that sells used goods, usually cheaply.
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