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  1. #1

    Lightbulb vt's definition & analysis of "scalping"

    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 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:
    Last edited by vulcantouch; 02-20-2003 at 11:27 PM.

  2. #2
    And now, something someone can actually read and understand. J/K.

    MTFBWY and HH!!

    Jar Jar Binks
    Last edited by Beast; 02-19-2003 at 11:53 PM.

    AGENTS OF ATLAS - Returns in Early 2009.

  3. #3

    by "someone", you wouldn't happen to mean "you", now wouldja jjb?

    if so, i can type slower next time
    my def is both more PREcise and CONcise than the rebscum page, but theirs serves ok as a scalping Primer for the ethical toddlers among us but for those who want a sturdier, more rigorous, Adult def to sink their teeth into go up Up UP

  4. #4
    Actually, I mean anyone outside the little click of the MM forums. Since I've seen quite a few people say that they just avoid your posts entirely, because they can't be bothered to read someone that doesn't care to format their posts and thoughts in a readable manner. So you may want to switch that toddler and adult around, since most adults do know how to speak/write correctly. Or atleast make an effort to, instead of intentially butchering the english language.

    MTFBWY and HH!!

    Jar Jar Binks

    AGENTS OF ATLAS - Returns in Early 2009.

  5. #5

    jjb: "I've seen quite a few people say that they just avoid your posts entirely"

    -oh? who where? as an incorrigible publicity H O i'm always happy to see Any mention of moi, complimentary or otherwise, so plz lmk so i can carp about them ostriches behind they backs

    "format. . . posts and thoughts in a readable manner. . . know how to speak/write correctly"
    -oh i hope you've in mind something besides that shopworn no-caps charge, cuz i've already xplained it's a blanket adaptation to the non-italicizable, non-boldable nature of html & other frequently-used text formats. besides, if you read these forums for a lesson in proper capitalization may i point you in the direction of the nearest lil red schoolhaus, cuz this class is for big boyz if you mean no xtra space betwixt paragraphs, that's cuz i'm personally always grateful whenever someone spares Me any Unnecessary scrolling; also, when one prints stuff up one uses less paper but if you're complaining about something i Haven't anticipated then don't keep me waiting darling, i like surprises then when you're done concerning yourself with the Presentation of my thoughts maybe you might actually get around to addressing the Content of my def?
    vt, aka exclusionist snob for the bigbad mm "click"
    Last edited by vulcantouch; 02-20-2003 at 11:32 PM.

  6. #6
    Isn't it clique?


    I have never cared much about scalpers or scalping. It's all wasted breath.

    While I think vt often has valid points, I do find his posts to be frustrating and difficult to read. The odd abbreviations, replacing "s" with "z", non-capitalization, and other odd word-shortning abbreviations make me have to stop and translate every 5th word or so.

    No big deal, on either topic.
    "Roger Nasty Butler!"

  7. #7
    Boy, the fur's flyin' in here.

    And, I'll chime in that it does nothing to further your points, regardless of their validity, to write in that manner. The extra time you save yourself by writing "xtra" instead of "extra" is minimal, at best, and serves to frustrate people who may otherwise be happy to stand up and agree with you, at worst.

    As I always say "Ha$br0 $uXor$!!" (OK, I've never actually said that. I was just compelled to, for some reason, after reading some things in here.)

    Just my opinion. Do with it as you see fit.


  8. #8
    "A collector shall not know profit. Nor greed. Nor self-interest." Can I getta "AMEN"!?!?!

    Sounds like a stinking pile to me. There's a little thing that just popped up in America in the past week, I think. It's called "capitalism". Those who are hunting for definitions may want to take a gander at that one.


  9. #9
    ... and so I was telling the guy, "Yeah! I hate wool socks too! They're itchy and they make my feet sweat." Oh, sorry ... wrong thread ... what's this one? Oh ... ancient philosophies regarding toy and figure collecting ... let me put on my fine print monocle.

    "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."

    I will pass this on to my legal department to see just what they can make of it. We have many fine people working there and I am sure that someone will have the savvy and keen eye to bring out a more palatable meaning.

    Oh, I did see this part ... "and make collectors in general pay more in the process" ... and I was wondering how is "make" defined here? "Scalpers" don't "make" anyone do anything do they? Well, they may "make" us mad or slightly annoyed when they hoard and resell large numbers of desirable new toys, but do they "make" us buy them? Ehhh ... I don't think so.

    Then, there's the wisdom of Mr. Philip Wise ... I kind of like his code of honor thing. But, I have a question about this ... "- When you trade or sell unavailable toys, do so keeping the golden rule in mind: you'll always win in the long run if you don't take advantage of people." I'm not sure what "take advantage" means in this case. Is it like vt's "make"?

    Anyway. No arguments here over the sentiment of any of these points. I do think that it's not a black and white kind of matter though. If I decide to sell off a large chunk of my collection on eBay (and I do from time to time) you had better be sure that I will intend to get a fair market price for whatever I'm selling. (Though MOST of the time I just want them to have a good home and to get back a part of what I first paid.) I don't look at my toy collecting hobby as being a big source for profit ... and I TOO loathe most of the individuals that I find out there that do. But, I understand the realities of "collecting" in general and I think it's a little weird that Star Wars collectors need to have some kind of special moral code of honor.
    Fine ... kids first ... I LOVE that idea.
    Fine ... no hoarding ... I frankly don't think anyone's making money off this stuff in the first place.
    As far as the buying and selling of collectibles goes ... Star Wars toys aren't any different than anything else ... be it antique watches, vintage clothing, old lunch boxes, that '71 mustang down the street or the "whatever" you just found at the local "where ever". It's ALL part of the hobby and in some cases, yes ... it's part of someone's business, but no one can "take advantage" of you by "making" you spend your money.

    ... now, where are those itchy wool socks?

  10. #10



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