posted this previously on the Old Forums, but since they were recently deleted let's resume the dogpile here; i hereby invite any toy-hypercommodification advocates/apologists out there to Take Yer Best Shots
every collector seems to use the word "scalper" and intuit what is meant by it but no one seems to get specific about what it means, preferring instead to brand anyone they're mad at with the appellation. to my knowledge i am the first collector to lay down and consistently use a practical, specific definition of the verb "scalp". my definition is two-part:
1) an attempt by someone (usually an independent dealer) who buys his goods wholesale via a direct distributor account with the manufacturer, to sell them for more than srp (suggested retail price);
2)an attempt by a non-primary seller (i.e. not a toy or department store) to resell at a higher price something said seller acquired earlier for a lower price, esp. if originally acquired with an eye to doing this all along.
it follows that, when as a matter of policy a person engages in these attempts, that person is a scalper and deserves the condemnation of collectors and to be regarded as the collector's enemy.
if in definition 2 the buyer-reseller in question did not harbor resale intentions at time of purchase, and instead acquired something because they personally wanted it but now no longer do, then by my definition their ethical recourse is to either sell it for the price they paid (or less) or attempt to gain via trade. the latter option is ethical because while it allows for the fact that items do become more scarce or sought-after over time, no two trade agreements are the same, having been arrived at via the contribution of ideas from both parties. in other words, a true collaboration.
while we all recognize plenty of examples that fit definition 1, in my experience people who fit definition 2 have too often gotten a pass on the condemnation they have coming. as a result, if anything the term "scalper" is Underused, simply because most people haven't followed the concept's implications to its logical end.
i can certainly understand this: years ago i used to do a bit of it myself (sold a few rare items i loctaed to scalper-dealers, who in turn resold what i sold them for an even Higher price, thus i did contribute to the scalper cycle). however as previously documented on the galoob.com buzzboard a series of extraordinarily lucky finds in my mm collecting led me to "see the light", & i've been an annoying zealot about this ever since. in a nutshell "the light" sez: collectors should trade for gain, not sell for gain; and patience and allowing yourself to enjoy the hunt will enable collectors to avoid contributing to the pernicious scalping cycle, either as a buyer or a seller
my definition of scalping inevitably follows from these "revelations". all other definitions of scalping i've heard are either or are so wide or vague they define themselves out of existence (which is unsatisfactory because the subject of scalping deserves better than to be conveniently "defined away" ) or are so narrow they fail to address "semi-scalping" behavior, thus allowing full-bore scalping to get a pass. my definition avoids this "slippery slope" trap and thus retains its usefulness. if anyone has an equally-useful definition of scalping i'd be happy to hear it. meanwhile i inadvertantly laid out the crux of my definition's validity in an email exchange with a self-avowed scalper:
scalper: "the market in buying and selling toys has gone as other type of collectible markets have gone, it is survival of the fittest of who has the more money to spend and that person can get what he wants"
vt responds: as a taoist and disciple of darwin, nietzsche and sade i'm probably not only more at peace with the "survival of the fittest" soundbite you bloodlessly recite but likely grasp its full implications more deeply and unflinchingly than you. but at the same time i am also a full-time aesthete and part-time ethicist and as such balance those ugly-but-undeniable truths with a principle of restraint, i.e. the avoidance of excess or waste. in other words, i accept that a certain degree of cutthroat competitiveness in this life is not only inevitable but necessary and even desirable. but given that there are a fixed number of a sought-after collectible, scalpers add nothing to the cycle of predatory exchange of which our lives consist. they are mere parasites; they do not manufacture, maintain efficient distribution networks, provide primary (srp-selling) retail outlets or end-consume these items. they simply horde, resell and line their pockets while contributing nothing to the system, and make collectors in general pay more in the process. this is hardly an honorable Earning of xtra cash. only exceptional circumstances such as charity beanie-baby auctions should be exempt from all this, as they attempt to serve an end higher than collector ethics.
comments? anyone? anyone? :happy: