The High Price of Collectibles and Limited Time Offerings

A few days ago I found myself shopping for interactive story buddies, (otherwise known as talking stuffed animals), at Hallmark. My son absolutely loves books and I thought he might enjoy snuggling with a cuddly toy that sings, barks and makes other fun noises when you read out loud.

Before heading out to the store I searched online for the cheapest prices. I found Jingle, (the holiday inspired Hallmark dog), on sale for $8.73, but by the time I reached the checkout page it was completely sold out. Those silly stuffed animals retail for $34.95 so $8.73 would’ve been an incredible price!


I figured there had to be some for sale on eBay. I checked out the auctions but found most were selling for roughly $35. Some were slightly more and some slightly less, but by the time you added in shipping most were in the $30 to $40 ballpark.

I had no intention of buying my fourteen month old son a $35 stuffed animal. In fact if I hadn’t seen the cheap price at Hallmark I probably wouldn’t have had the bright idea to buy this toy in the first place.

I decided to call the Hallmark store closest to my home to inquire about prices. It turns out that our local store was selling them at 50% off. $17.95 was still more than I really wanted to spend, but I couldn’t seem to get the idea out of my head so I buckled my son into the backseat of the car and drove off in search of it. (Important lesson: Try a brick-and-mortar store before shelling out money on eBay. eBay prices aren’t always the cheapest.)

All of the Christmas items were marked down 75%. Recordable storybooks were on sale for $4.95 and the second and third books in the “Jingle” series were $2.49 each. I bought a couple of recordable storybooks, (my son received one from my parents for Easter and absolutely loves it), and the two Jingle books along with the Jingle stuffed animal.

When I got back into the car I logged onto eBay and searched for the two books I just purchased. I was astounded to find them selling for $13 to $17 a piece. The retail price of each book was only $9.95 and I’d just paid $2.49 each for them.

That’s when I discovered the value of limited time offerings. This year Hallmark designed the 2012 Jingle toy and compatible books. They won’t sell the same toy again next year. They may sell a newer version next year, but odds are it won’t be compatible with the older model. If you don’t buy the books now you may not have the opportunity to do so in the future.

This once a year offering causes people to log on to eBay in high numbers. Let’s say your wife bought you two of the three 2012 superhero ornaments. If you feel your collection won’t be complete until you find Captain America then you’ll log on to eBay and spend three to four times the original retail price in order to complete your collection.  Lucky for you someone in the secondary market probably has what you want. Unfortunately the item you want may come with a very hefty price tag.

Apparently many people already know this. Google for items to sell on eBay and you’ll come across all sorts of information about making money from selling Hallmark ornaments. This also explains why I once saw a woman buy twenty identical Barbie ornaments from a Hallmark store the day after Christmas. Perhaps they were some sort of a special holiday collection. Apparently star trek, star wars and barbie ornaments all sell for big bucks.

This is just one of the many reasons I’m not a collector. I don’t want to pay three to four times the retail price for an ornament that sits on my Christmas tree for a few days a year. Of course, if my son falls in love with this little Jingle toy and something awful happens, (it breaks, gets lost, etc.), I’m sure I’ll head back to eBay and shell out big bucks for another one.

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