August 12, 2007

There Is No Craigslist In Peru, Illinois


I've been to some remote places in Illinois in my day [Pontoosuc in the house!], but the closest I've got to Peru was that one crazy weekend I drove out from Chicago to the opening gala for the new art museum in Grinnell, Iowa. [Good times. Those seed magnates really know how to party.] When you're in a small town like Peru, the rest of the world can feel very far away indeed, even in this Internet Age.

Q: Do you think kids from the lo-res side of town get made fun of at school?

Which might explain why the shipping charges are so laughably high on the fleet of vintage wooden toy vehicles that an upstanding Peruvian businessman--the one guy in town who knows what eBay is, apparently--just put up for sale. It's like the online equivalent of getting a radiator fixed in a one-garage town; the question ain't how much is it gonna cost, but where else you gonna go, mister?


There are 13 toys in 8 lots: three from Creative Playthings, four from Community Playthings, and a batch of loosies from Childcraft, Playskool, and Crusader. A lot of them have been played to hell, too; which could be ironic, since they probably came from the rummage sale at the church-run preschool over in LaSalle. Total opening bids: $160. Total shipping charges: $180. [Never mind the $29 in "listing fees" the seller paid upfront.]

Maybe a Community Playthings "Knot Tying teaching toy" [back east, we call'em "gas pumps"] IS so rare, a collector somewhere'll pounce on it at $35, even with the frayed and missing hose.


Maybe a Creative Playthings steamroller IS worth $35 and more, even though it looks like it's been gnawed on by five generations of Peruvian beavers. Maybe the Creative Playthings tug&barges set isn't worth $50, but $50,000; maybe it's one of the fabled Inverted Jenny Tug Sets that set collectors' hearts afire. Who knows? There's not even a picture.


All that said, the Crusader mail truck [top] looks kind of sweet and in decent shape. The Community Playthings bulldozer is kind of rad, if only because of its sheer blockiness.


And the maple grain on this Community Playthings dump truck is actually beautiful--and except for that chunk on the bumper, in relatively good condition. Still, a brand new model is just $51, with free shipping.

So if you're driving cross-country next week, and you're anywhere near Peru, why not pick something up at the Pizza House or Big Apple Bagels on 4th Street, and then go park in front of the Connecting Point Computer Center to eat. You may spot a dejected-looking church lady come to pick up her load of unsold hardwood toys. Help her out. Offer her 80 bucks for the lot--remember, she's already down $30--and load them into the trunk. Then tell her next time, to get her grandson to show her how to do her own eBaying.


Or you can visit my aunt and uncle!

There are actually some fried chicken and beer (or burger and beer) places down by the river. After you have brought the light of the free market to bear on the small-town auction newbies you can retreat to a shady local tavern for a leisurely game of shuffleboard.

(Not that you will necessarily run into my aunt and uncle in a tavern while you're there, though it's not out of the question.)

A lot of sellers on e-bay increase their shipping & "handling" fees, because the shipping charge is not included in the fee calculation. So they can get more for the item and pay ebay less.

[there's also research that shows they get higher prices because some people don't factor shipping into their maximum price when they bid. In this case, it's even more extreme because this eBay pimp keeps all the inflated shipping, AND 28% of the final NET price. AND he charges a 1000% markup for a brokeass listing. What a scam. -ed.]

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