Sold-out toys a click away for highest-bidding parents

by in Just for kids, Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3, Tickle Me Elmo

This story is frustrating for parents who just want their kids to have that, one toy for Christmas. Every year it’s something. I watched the Elmo frenzy a couple months ago and Boycotted him as soon as the prices became too high. My boycott was not for the toy, but rather the Ebayers that are looking to rip off the working public at Christmas.

After I posted my Boycott on this site, I was at a restaurant eating dinner and overheard some “Elmo” conversation going on at another table. The man was laughing at how much money people would pay for these dolls and proudly mentioned that he had bought 18 of them and was selling them for over $400 a piece on Ebay. It was all I could do to not march over to his table and let him know how awful he was. Rest assured, I bit my tongue, but was still saddened by the fact that these people will buy up a whole shipment of popular toys and re-sell them back to desperate parents for 10x the original cost.

Global has an article about the three toys that are causing a bidding frenzy this Christmas.

The Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3 and Elmo T.M.X. – out of stock in most stores across Canada – are top sellers on web-based auction sites. For parents striving to fulfiltheir child’s wish list, ”There were no more left at the store” no longer stands as a Christmas morning excuse, according to marketing analysts.

”There is a big difference between being seen as the hero or the stooge on Christmas Day – and that’s all about getting a gift or getting an IOU,” said Michael Mulvey, a marketing and social trends expert at the University of Ottawa’s School of Management. ”Santa doesn’t give IOUs.”

Over the two-week period beginning Nov. 23, EBay has sold 6,470 Wii across Canada – most at double their retail price of $280. The Playstation 3 has sold 7,060 times at an average of $2,317 – four times its retail price of $550. Meanwhile, the Elmo T.M.X. has been sold 10,247 times for an average of $30 more than its retail price of $44.99.

”It has created the perfect storm,” said Jordan Banks, managing director of EBay Canada. ”I’ve never seen three hot, low-supply products come together like this at one time.”

When the Elmo T.M.X.’s predecessor, Tickle Me Elmo, disappeared from the shelves during the holiday season 10 years ago, frantic parents were left with few options. With the rise of online auction sites, sold-out toys are now a click away for those parents willing to pay a steep price.

But Mulvey noted the ”winners” of such auctions are inevitably the biggest losers because they end up paying far too much for an item.

Some EBay vendors say they purchased one of the three toys in anticipation they would be a profitable re-sell over the holiday season.

Julie Fox of Ottawa bought five Elmo T.M.X.’s shortly after they were first released. While she has donated three to charities, she is currently selling two of the tickle-craving stuffed monsters on EBay.

”My husband had the idea that we get a few and take our chances on EBay,” she said, adding she expects the Elmos to sell for over $80. Earlier in November, a scarcity of online Elmos drove up prices, with some of the toys selling for thousands of dollars.

”Many people thrive on the immediacy and urgency of getting the latest and greatest things,” Banks said. ”Mom and dad don’t have an excuse anymore when they can’t find a PS3.

”We’ve really become a marketplace where people with high-demand, low-supply items can do very well for themselves in a short period of time.”

About the Author

SAHM of 2 boys and founder of, World Traveled Family and The World We Share. When I'm not running around after my boys, I'm looking for our next vacation spot!

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  1. Sam says:

    I cant get hold of the wii, everywhere is sold out. its been much more popular than people thought it would be.
    still i cant wait to get mine…

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