It's one of those creations that has such a big impact we wonder how we ever got along without it.
You may not be in love with everything about eBay, but there's not much debate it has revolutionized how things like cards and memorabilia are sold.
I was at a Columbus, OH card show in 1996 when I heard the word for the first time. I was talking with another dealer set up at the show and he mentioned something about "on-line auctions". I had bought a personal computer way back in about 1992, so I knew what "on-line" meant, but knew nothing about any auctions taking place there. I asked "where are they?" and he said "well, eBay has some". I didn't want to feel stupid so I didn't ask how to spell it, but it was easy enough to figure out. And saying "eBay has some" may have been the understatement of that decade.
That night I went home and discovered what was a young but already pretty monstrous site with tons of sports stuff. It was like finding a stash of old cards at a yard sale. It became a part of my everyday life from then on. I can probably count on two hands the number of days since when I've not at least logged on to eBay.com for at least 3 or 4 minutes. That's a pretty major impact.
Since then, of course, eBay has become a behemoth presence in the buying and selling of goods. It's everything—the good, bad and ugly. You can locate things in hours, days or weeks what would have taken years to find via magazines or classified ads. You can get ripped off if you're not careful. And it's made the glut of product in certain areas even worse by exposing just how much quantity is really out there. Without eBay, maybe you'd be able to sell a box of 1988 Donruss for $7 or 8 at a show or in your shop. Now, you might as well donate them to charity.
It's also given us plenty of chances to laugh. There are all kinds of really..well.. uninformed people out there who think their "old" box of 107 cards from the '80s are worth a minimum bid of $50. Others have reprints of pre-War cards and are convinced they're real or try to pass them off as such, hoping some equally dense buyer with a boatload of cash uses the Buy It Now for $10,000. We're on the lookout for these auctions and our first list has drawn a lot of readers. If you see one, pass it along!
I've found it particularly humorous how many sellers not only can't spell worth a lick but can't even form a complete written sentence. It's amazing how many make it through high school without any kind of communications skills. There are plenty of buyers out there who take advantage of that and find items most people miss because of the errors in the copy.
There's no doubt eBay has taken a lot of life out of the card shows. Admittedly, a 'thinning of the herd' was needed, but these days a lot of large shows are still kind of dead. That's a little sad, but I can't see shows going away completely. Some things–like filling want lists–can't be done effectively on-line unless you're very patient.
There is one thing that I'm really upset about with regard to eBay, though. I never bought any stock back in 1996.