Some Things Have No Value At Auction, Some Things Have No Value Anywhere.

Auctioneers deal with a lot of normal everyday stuff. We run an auction company and for every $100,000 plus a vintage comic book I have ever sold, I have sold 100,000 almost worthless things. OK, some of them wound up having worth (but not much) because for one reason or another someone paid me for them. I may have had to put them into boxes, and grouped up a bunch of the boxes to sell them. At some point, someone wants you to move on and will pay you $2.50 for the group-O-boxes so you will quit yammering, get on with it, and go sell what they came for.
We conducted an auction a few years ago. We had a good crowd and the sale went fine, and we had a treadmill in the basement. A big, heavy almost worthless treadmill. I sold it for waaaaay more than I normally get for a treadmill and thought we did great. In fact, whenever I tell another auctioneer that I once sold a used treadmill for $375 they don’t believe me, it’s like some sort of treadmill world record I think. The owner thought otherwise. It started me thinking about a TV show that needs to be produced “The Common Crap Road Show.” It might look like this…..

In a large room, people wait patiently in line clutching their “treasures”, things like Wheaties boxes from the ’90s, new baseball cards, comic books from 2010, etc. The walls behind them are draped with banners saying things like National Geographic/Readers Digest, Avon, and Bennie Babies! Under the banner marked Exercise Equipment, the expert is just starting to talk to Bob. Let’s listen in.

Expert: “Well Bob, why don’t you tell us about your item?” Bob: “I have a great treadmill. It’s like brand new, I got it right after Christmas and only used it once.”

Expert: “Yes you and 2 million other people purchased one of these, it is the Jogger 2010 the best selling treadmill of all time. It is as common as a treadmill gets! In fact, it may be the most common piece of exercise equipment ever. So, what do you think it is worth?” Bob: “I was hoping at least $1,500 because that is what I paid for it last December.”

Expert: “Well Bob, I have a copy of your receipt and it appears you only paid $1,400 for it and that included their “free” delivery. Bob, you realize of course that 1) you paid only $1,400 for this treadmill, not $1,500, and 2) that included an industry-standard $200 delivery fee, right?” Bob: “But that was a year ago, it should be worth more now. The new ones cost more, shouldn’t mine be worth more not too?

Expert: “It doesn’t work that way, Bob. Do you own a car?” Bob: “Sure, I think almost everyone owns a car.” Expert: “When you bought your new car, did it go up in price or down.” Bob: “Well, down, but this is different, this is a treadmill, not a car!”

Expert: “Right you are Bob, people need cars. A treadmill provides its user with the same thing that they have without a treadmill. They can walk and run, only now the can do it on a thing that takes up a lot of space, is incredibly heavy and loses value faster than fireworks.” Bob: “You mean my treadmill is no longer worth $1,600?”
Expert: “No, Bob I’m afraid that in its current location (here in a large hall full of silly people who buy wrong, but with easy access to overhead doors) and its current condition I’d say your treadmill is worth $300, but if you take it home and put it in your garage it might be worth $50 to $75 but back in your basement it is worth perhaps $5 on a good day. Remember most people who want a treadmill need exercise and are out of shape so they can’t get one of these monsters up the steps.” Host, well that’s all the time we have today, join us next time when we will showcase a collection of used sleeper sofas!

By the way, the store that posted the picture of the worthless Avon bottle on Pinterest to try and drive traffic to their online store is now out of business. Not to worry, a quick check turned up another optimist over at Etsy with the same car (only this one has its cap!) and it’s only $7, but you better hurry before they go out of business too.

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