Ghost of Midnight

… about neighbors, community and Front Porch Forum

eBay vs. Garage Sales

Posted on Monday, April 9, 2007 by No comments yet

The Local Onliner brought an interesting couple articles to my attention today by New York Times writer Jonathan Berr:

“I was reminded of what made eBay a success while I was reporting the story,” writes Berr, in a separate story picked up by AOL Finance. “First, it’s still a very affordable way for many small businesses who don’t want to spend the money on search advertising to sell their wares on the Internet. eBay also seems to be replacing garage sales as the means that people use to get rid of their junk.” [emphasis added]

I find this last bit troubling. I assert we need more garage sales, not less. Let’s compare on a few fronts:

Community building:
Garage sale… Talk to the blue-haired lady a few doors down about her antique lamp and what the neighborhood used to be like. Buy a watered-down Dixie cup of lemonade from the four-year-old who may be cutting your grass in another ten years. Talk with real people, face to face as you shop… “do you think I’d use this bread machine?” Find a deal.
eBay… Email distant strangers about Barry Bonds bobblehead dolls. Sit by yourself and decide you must have it.

Sustain our environment:
Garage sale… Walk up and down the street. Pull loot home in little red wagon.
eBay… Box up bobblehead, big delivery truck picks up item from sender’s house, trucks and jet aircraft ship across country, another big panel truck rumbles into the neighborhood and leaves cardboard and plastic-entombed doll at your doorstep. The way our society looks back in befuddlement at the Salem witch trials and wiping out millions of buffalo, and other past obvious atrocious behavior… that’s how our kids/grandkids will view behavior like this… “what were you thinking, Gramps?”

Keep your money in the neighborhood…
Garage sale… Your $20 goes to the guy who lives a couple blocks away.  He then spends it at the corner store, etc.
eBay… Your $20 is split between the distant seller, eBay, Visa, UPS, Staples (for the box), etc. and leaves your community behind.
We should all put more thought into our personal practices and avoid uses that cause more harm in the long run than good. Thus ends today’s sermon. 😉

Posted in: Community Building, Local Online

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