Thursday, March 27, 2014

Beanie Baby Guilt

Late last week, I got an email from a friend asking me about the value of Beanie Babies.  If you remember the history of the little beanbag critters, you know that they were real hot for a while, and people literally were betting the farm, or their kids’ college money, that collections would be worth big bucks in the future.

Unfortunately, like most fads, the reports of their investment value were greatly exaggerated, and interest, and fortunes, quickly tanked.  Today, individual Beanies are still collectible, but rarely worth the original retail price (with exceptions, or course).

Knowing this, and after a quick Ebay check, I told my friend that, unless she had a rare Beanie, her collection wasn’t worth more than $.50 to $1 each in bulk.  She decided to donate the whole lot to the local Hospice thrift store.  I had a momentary thought about buying the lot, but quickly let it pass.

On Saturday, however, I changed my mind when Ella bid on and won this supposedly vintage Beanie Baby wagon.  It’s made of wood, and is about 19.5 long by 11 inches wide.  The seller said it was an original store display.  I figured that if I had a few Beanie Babies to put in it that it would make a great addition to our antique booth.

Cute all-wood wagon will add some color to the booth
I emailed my friend on Monday, and, no, she hadn’t donated the Beanies yet.  I asked to look at them, and we decided to get together on Wednesday.  She then inquired if I was interested in Legos.  What self-respecting thrifter isn’t?  Of course, it helped that I remembered what Legos she was talking about.  Her grandson used to put together huge Star Wars spaceships, so I knew the potential value there.

On Wednesday, she had two totes of Beanie Babies in her garage.  While talking, I mentioned our antique booth, and she showed me several antique bottles that she wanted to get rid of.  We then went downstairs to see the Legos.  The once proud Star Wars spaceships had been relegated to pieces in various totes, but I knew there was still value there.  Sitting beside the Legos, though, was a new in box Hasbro Star Wars Transformers Darth Vader/Death Star toy whose value I knew had to be close to $100.

The totes hold approximately 236 Beanie Babies, most with tags still attached
Darth's heavy breathing hopefully will bring $120
OK, here’s where it got dicey.  I had no idea about the actual value of the Beanies, Legos, or bottles, and only a vague notion about the Transformer.  I did know, however, that researching and selling the Beanies and Legos would be fairly labor intensive, and likely would be a slow dime rather than a quick nickel process.

Since she was a long-time friend, I didn’t want to cheat or take advantage of her, but I certainly didn’t want to lose money on the deal.  I asked her what she wanted for the whole lot.  She hemmed and hawed, and we chatted about other things, until she finally came up with a price of $100.  I didn’t even attempt to bargain, and, feeling almost guilty, I accepted her offer.

Ella and I processed and counted the Beanies (approximately 236) last night, and Ella plans to research the individual critters to see if any are actually worth anything.  The bottles and Legos are still in my truck to be processed later today.

This morning, I listed the Transformer for $120 on Amazon.

I obviously got a good deal, but I do feel a little guilty that I may have inadvertently taken advantage of my friend. 

Should I have offered more?


  1. Perhaps if you get a big hit on one or more of the items you might give her some additional money? That way, you're not out more money up front (in case the items really aren't worth much) but can do the right thing by your friend in the event that there's a big, big score in the lot someplace.

    1. That was sort of what I had in mind ... in case one of the Beanies turns out to be collectible.

  2. For a friend I would definitely give her some extra if you do very well. The return on that is not only will you be known as fair, the next time she has things to sell she will call you again. She is also likely to mention to someone else how nice/fair you were, and bam! Another person calls you with items.

  3. She was happy with money, and she knew you were buying to resell. I'd let it go.

  4. You are doing all the work and taking all the risk. She was happy with the price. I would leave it as is.

  5. I would leave it as well. She said a price she was happy with.