Why Your “Collectibles” Are Worthless

I’ve spent two hellish sessions now with someone who has hoarded a bunch of stuff thinking it’s all going to become collectible and increase in value.

He’s been trying to unload this crap now.

He checks prices on eBay with Highest Price listed first and thinks he’s sitting on some sort of gold mine.

It’s not the highest price that establishes any damn market, it’s the lowest.

So when he scrolls down and sees that the Highest price differs from the Lowest by five or even ten times, he doesn’t frikkin get it.

Here’s the brutal deal:

1) People have been dying. That cohort you grew up with who once collected these things? They’re your age now. And they’ve been dropping dead, of heart attacks, stroke, cancer, etc. And there’s no replacement for them. What was nostalgic gold to those people are junk to the following generations.

2) People have no money for toys. They’re in debt over their heads, just treading water, and you expect them to waste their money on what amounts to trivial luxuries of youthful indulgence? That’s just not going to happen.

3) People need money. So you’re not selling into a buyer’s market, you’re selling into a desperate seller’s market, competing against other people who now need every nickel they can sucker out of the remaining people like you, who still think these things have some fungible value.

4) The people who are still alive are now grown-ups. Seeing a photo online of something they once owned as a child will now suffice, not the thing itself. Just seeing these things was once a very rare event. We now live in a world of digital plenty. Just seeing photos of this stuff for sale on eBay — at laughable minimum bids — is enough of a nostalgic fix. Hell, we can even save the damn photo to our hard drives and look at it any time. We don’t need or even want these things now.

5) That time is not coming back. As I stated in the first point, the generations after yours have no memory of these things, no emotional ties to them, and these things are as alien to them as a knickknack made by some indigenous person they encountered on one of those rare foreign vacations they took when they still had the money to do so.

6) There is no widespread nostalgia for technology. That Casio Cassiopeia Pocket PC you never used? The time to sell it was when it was generally on sale, not years later when it’s been obsoleted several times over by new technology. No one is looking for something they can’t use. And there are so many of these things floating around now that they’ll never, ever have their original value. So even if someone who is outright insane winds up buying it years down the road, it will be in vastly inflated money so even if you get its original price, you’re still losing money!

People get on my back all the time about the things I never buy. That’s because I understand all of the above. Anything I buy will be for practical use and I’ll squeeze every damn bit of blood out of it that’s humanly possible. I’ve been through the “collectible” thing and I’ve seen how it can turn on you.

I offer the above up to everyone else who has yet to learn this lesson.

Don’t hoard, don’t collect for the sake of re-selling.

You’ll wind up being a loser and feel like a sucker in the end.

Money is a very valuable thing and seems to get rarer these days. Hang on to it as much as possible and use it wisely when you think you must spend it.

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15 Comments

Filed under Collapse, Pottersville

15 responses to “Why Your “Collectibles” Are Worthless

  1. Use it, squeeze all the life you can out of it, possibly repair it if it’s feasible (time value of money), and then toss it when it’s useless.

    I can’t stand knickknacks. My house looks barren, like one of those sets on cop shows, where they go in the house and say, “Look, a sociopath must live here because there are no pictures of family on the walls and no knickknacks.”

    • mikecane

      Hahahahaha. I bet mine is even more barren. I keep wondering how the absolute minimalists do it, though. They seem to not even have closets!

      • OTOH, maybe the internet has become our walls and knickknacks, yes, with all the pictures of the shit we like but don’t want around.

        I want one of those digital picture frames to set on the shelf. That would take care of the whole picture problem in less than a square foot of space.

  2. So what are the options for that Cassiopeia? Landfill?

    • mikecane

      I have no idea. I have an Everex Palm PC I bought used for like $30 years after it was dead as a product solely because I was curious about it. Don’t know where that will go after I’m dead. I tend not to sell old tech, so I buy new tech very sparingly.

      • mikecane

        I haven’t those skillz. Also, the Everex runs on 2 AAA(!!!) batteries. Eats them like popcorn.

  3. kitten

    I come from a long line of collectors but I don’t collect recipes or pictures of tigers or bells…
    I just have trouble getting rid of my non-collection.

    Someday I am going to break up with all my stuff and live the simple life…currently I live with stuff I’ve kept for decades…it sucks, but I can go to a coffee shop or escape into the internet and ignore the fact that I am a shitty housekeeper.

    about ebay: kathi just sold 2 pairs of worn kids shoes with flashing lights in the heals for $10 apiece so somebody is buying this shit.

  4. Collectibles might not be a good investment. But cash might not be either. Get your hands on some real gold.

  5. D.

    I loved this blog post! It is so right on…seriously. More people need to start realizing this. I myself lived with the same cell phone for almost 6 years before (only recently) replacing it with a smart phone that I will not be replacing for (most likely) the same amount of time or longer. People simply can’t fathom that I don’t need to buy myself a new phone or laptop every year. It has become so normal to consume way more than you need in this society, whether you can afford it or not. But I just don’t live like that.

  6. Awesome post, Mike. You really nailed many of the shortcomings of ‘eBay speculating’…

  7. Reblogged this on My Blog and commented:
    This is simply wonderful!

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