There was a time when flea markets and yard sales were stacked with tons of retro goodness on the cheap. It wouldn’t be that unusual to find a Dukes of Hazzard lunchbox marked with a sticker that read “25 cents”. Now, that same lunchbox is on Ebay going for 50 bucks (if not more). With the advent of widespread online buying and selling, the Dukes of Hazzard lunchbox went from nearly valueless trash to family heirloom in a matter of a few years.
This is obviously a boon for sellers and a bust for buyers. You might think the plus side to this is that a buyer has more collectibles available to buy than ever before. In other words, I might never run across a much desired Gabe Kaplan Halloween costume at the local flea markets, thrift stores and yard sales, but it’s up on Ebay for $65.99. This is true. I now have an opportunity I didn’t have before. However, now that it’s 100% about money rather than legwork and serendipitous luck, the thrill is gone. I can scavenge yard sales year after year looking for that needle in a haystack, or I can sit my butt in front of a computer for a few minutes and just buy one.
And one final note: finding treasures at flea markets and yard sales didn’t used to be so damn hard. By now, pretty much everybody knows their box in the attic full of Dynamite magazines and K-Tel records will turn a much bigger profit online than in a yard sale. So, you just don’t see these items near as much as you used to – there’s just as many haystacks, but there’s a lot less needles.