May 24, 2005

Will you still need me, will you still feed me

when I'm 64? Hoo!

Bahb Dih-llan turns 64 today. Damn that's an old fart. And that's all I'm going to say about that, because it's impossible to do a good Bob Dylan impersonation when you don't audio blog, and I don't have the link to the Bob Dylan Falling Down A Well mp3 handy.

So. eBay.

Captialism is a wonderful idea, in theory. You buy an item or service for 'x' price, add a small markup, 'y', and sell it for retail price 'z' to your customer, who is happy that you have product 'a' and can get it to them for what they feel is a reasonable price, 'z.' Wal-To-Wall-Mart went and fucked that all up though, by taking losses on certain items so they can stick it to you on the Made In Bangladesh By Starving Children products.

What does all this have to do with me, you ask? I'll tell you.

I ran an online tobacco and pipe store for roughly 4 years. It taught me a lot, particularly that to sell anything on the internet you have to be able to survive making about a nickle of markup on anything you happnen to be selling, which I was taught was like eating soup with a fork--you stay reallly busy, but you don't get anywhere fast. So, after years of sort of muddling along, making a few dollars here and there each month, I threw in the towel.

This left me, however, with a veritable MOUNTAIN of pipe stuff: tobacco (which is being used, thank you very much) and pipes (which still need to be sold off) and a ton of little things like tamps and cork ashtray knobs and other little paraphernalia that is now pretty much useless, since they won't sell for anything on eBay. That's the trouble, you see. I've been selling on eBay again.

I had a ton of lighters, nice butane refillable lighters in a variety of shapes and styles from Vector/KGM. I bought them fairly cheap, and even sold a few here and there between word of mouth and on the site. And they were priced fairly for good metal-bodied refillable butane jet torch lighters, and then the business closed and suddenly I'm sitting on 40-odd lighters. That's where eBay came in.

I listed and sold all those lighters. Or at least most of them--some of them are still selling. Someone stood me up on two of them. The rest? The rest I lost money on. All but one. One lone lighter sold on a Buy It Now for the retail price. The rest went for well below my cost. End result? Irrelephant took one for the team.

So the good news is that I got rid of the piles and piles of lighters that were littering my dining room, and can now afford the nice humidor I've been eying for a while now. The bad news is a little more ephemeral, but still painful--I lost a lot of money on the deal. But thus is life, and thus is retail, right?

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