Santa Needs a Bailout, Too: Kids Sell Old Toys to Raise Cash for New Ones

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by PoliticalChic, Dec 12, 2008.

  1. PoliticalChic

    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

    Oct 6, 2008
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    Faith Corbin, 7, Plans to Buy Doll Representing The Great Depression; Lessons By JENNIFER SARANOW
    When 7-year-old Faith Corbin asked her mother for a Ruthie Smithens doll for Christmas, her mother gave her some bad news. Because of the bad economy, there would be no expensive dolls this year.

    "I can't really justify spending another $100 on a doll," says Barbara Corbin, 42, of Bowie, Md. Declining home values and mounting expenses for everything from school to food have put an end to the days of buying her four children whatever they want, she says.

    Having seen her mother buy things online, Faith, a second-grader at St. Pius X Regional School, suggested selling some of her toys online to raise money for the Ruthie doll, which coincidentally represents the Depression era in Mattel Inc.'s American Girl series. "I wanted to sell to some people who don't have much toys," says Faith, whose mother helped her place an ad on craigslist to sell some American Girl doll clothes, accessories and paraphernalia for $100. "I'm waiting for the money," says Faith, who has been pestering her mother to "hurry up" and sell the items.

    These straitened times have brought out a different kind of holiday spirit in children like Faith: the entrepreneurial spirit of Christmas presents. As many parents cut back on holiday spending this year, their children are figuring out ways to get the money to buy what they really want. They are asking their parents to post ads online to sell their old stuff or to hawk it on eBay. Some are showing up with used gadgets, toys and game consoles at malls and fast-food chains where people congregate.

    The number of postings in the "games/toys for sale" category at craigslist more than doubled to 396,197 last month from 190,157 a year earlier. Many of this year's listings include the phrases "my son is selling" or "my daughter is selling," for items ranging from Bratz dolls to the Game Boy Advance.

    Faith Corbin
    On eBay, more than 3,600 used toys were available on Dec. 2, and more than 2,000 were sold for an average of $30.21 in the previous week. "Kids are smart, and when their parents are telling them 'No,' they are looking for other ways to make it happen," says Cat Schwartz, eBay's gadget and toy director.

    By late last week, a quarter of the 500 mothers of 8- to 12-year-olds surveyed by the research and strategy firm Just Kid Inc. said their children had considered selling old toys and games to help pay for gifts this holiday season; 11% said their children had already done so and 6% said their children had sold more this year. In many cases, respondents said their children wanted to buy something for themselves.

    That was the motive for Ashley Suplicki. Three months ago, the fifth-grader in Dallas, Ga., told her mother she wanted a new blue iPod nano and a Nintendo Wii system for Christmas. When her mother said she would have to choose one this year because "Santa is having a tough year, too," Ashley selected the Wii and asked whether she could sell her old gadgets to buy herself the new nano.

    Last month, with the help of her mother, Jennifer, a single mom who was laid off last year and was unemployed until April this year, Ashley sold her iPod Shuffle and a karaoke machine on craigslist for a total of $50. Because there were already so many Game Boys for sale on craigslist, she took her Game Boy and four games to a pawnshop, where she sold them for $45. "I'm trying to sell as much as I can," says Ashley, who has put together a pile of old Barbie items she would like to get rid of.

    Mixed Motives
    In a survey conducted by Just Kid Inc, moms were asked: What are some reasons why your child is selling or considering selling old toys, dolls, or games this holiday season? Below are some responses.

    "Because he wanted to be able to buy his sister and baby brother a gift for Christmas" -- 8-year-old boy"To send extra money to his sponsored child in India." -- 8-year-old boy"So he can buy a Wii" -- 8-year-old boy"To clean up his room and make some money in the process." -- 9-year-old boy"Dad out of work for five months" -- 11-year-old girl"She has outgrown many of her toys and it was her decision to do away with the old instead of doing odd jobs for pay" -- 12-year-old girlSometimes, it's the parents who think selling is a good idea. To teach her children a lesson about how much they have, Erin Scharba Judge of Anoka, Minn., has been encouraging her two young sons to donate toys they don't care about to charity and sell special toys they no longer use. Last month, she helped 5-year-old Alex sell his old Diego's Mobile Rescue Unit and other Diego items for $40. He used the money to buy himself and his siblings gifts. Selling "will help them with their money management, it will help them with not being pack rats, and it will help them with their generosity," says Mrs. Judge, who adds that things are a little tight this year for the family because her husband's work hours were recently cut and they are expecting a fifth child.

    Entrepreneurial children are benefiting from the fact that toys and gadgets are more expensive this year. The prices of toys on toy guide best-seller lists this holiday season are, on average, 40% to 50% higher than they were five years ago, estimates Sean McGowan, a veteran toy-industry analyst with Needham & Co.

    Items such as iPods, Wiis, videogame systems, laptops, American Girl dolls and Leapster learning games can bring in big sums. On eBay in November, for instance, pre-owned American Girl dolls sold for an average of $53.10.

    But not everything sells. Alexys Haskell, a fifth-grader in Apple Valley, Minn., has been trying to sell her Hannah Montana doll and shirt for $5 on craigslist since her mother, Kathleen, informed her that she couldn't afford to give her and her sister money to buy each other Christmas gifts this year. But so far, Alexys has no takers. Only her 9-year-old sister's lava lamp has sold -- for $5.

    "It's a little bit depressing. I wish I could buy them what they wanted," says Mrs. Haskell. She says rising medical and other expenses forced her to cut her Christmas budget.

    Sometimes the children drive a hard bargain. Reef Koch, a sixth-grader in Reston, Va., asked his mother last month whether he could sell his toy box full of hundreds of Power Ranger figures and accessories for extra money to buy himself and his family gifts. He wanted to sell the box for $200 on craigslist, but his mom persuaded him to list it at $40.

    "He still thinks it's worth a lot more," says his mother, Kelly, a 34-year-old stay-at-home mom who has been looking for a job for a year and says things are tighter in her household this year. So far, they have received one offer for $25, but Reef turned it down. "It was too cheap for all those Power Rangers," he says. "It seemed like a rip-off."

    Write to Jennifer Saranow at

    Santa Needs a Bailout, Too: Kids Sell Old Toys to Raise Cash for New Ones -

    I like this idea. Children are learning to deal with reality. I am not afraid to tell my children that something is too expensive to purchase. When we go shopping, we always comparison shop. Even for something as insignificant as toothpaste, I'll tell the kids that I don't pay xxx amount of dollars for toothpaste. In the beginning they use to make a fuss, but now they accept the fact that that's our lifestyle. We teach our kids patience and that if we wait, we will find what we want at our price.

    The mother in the story mentioned that she was sad about having the children sell toys so that they could get Christmas toys, but to me it wasn't sad at all. Most kids have more toys than they know what to do with anyway. This is part of the personal responsibility that should be talk to kids at a fairly early age.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2008

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