‘Inside the World of Buy Nothing’: The Risks and Rewards of eBay Shops for Buying Weird Stuff

More and more Americans are turning to controversial eBay-based shops to try out their own products. But one store in Santa Barbara, Calif., is running afoul of the law by selling and selling both…

'Inside the World of Buy Nothing': The Risks and Rewards of eBay Shops for Buying Weird Stuff

More and more Americans are turning to controversial eBay-based shops to try out their own products. But one store in Santa Barbara, Calif., is running afoul of the law by selling and selling both conventional products and the weird stuff.

“It’s a great way to try out different things before buying them. If you buy, put them in a different bucket in your home,” says Brian Deitchman, who runs the store, “Inside the World of Buy Nothing.”

Seth Rogers, a software engineer, has been using the store for the past 10 years. “It’s really about the merchandising.”

Rogers says they’re not selling toxic products, just products that have been popular with buyers in the store over the years. Even a few items that people might not buy if bought directly online.

Undercover Body Cameras

“Some years ago, I bought something from here that I later thought that I should have bought, but I didn’t,” he says. He was on vacation and found the German-made cycle-worthy bike.

That was long before Mark Twain wrote about the hunter who would leave the dog food from the feeder “buried on the patio,” so other dogs could get a good whiff of the winter kill.

In-Stock Items Have Names

“I had a dishwasher sink, it was the biggest gurney dishwasher sink in the store,” Rogers says. In-stock items have names. “If a dress is in stock that has that kind of label attached to it, you can see all the different colors and sizes it will come in.”

The store is branching out beyond selling hard to find items to scouring thrift shops.

Steven Panatier owns two secondhand stores where he uses a catalog to find products for his store. He tries to buy used products that people might not put up on eBay or other sites because they’ve been trashed, only to realize it’s gone into disrepair.

The site keeps track of the products and puts them in categories like “odds and ends,” but they come with a “greatest hits” section for the most popular products.

“We don’t have anything that’s on fire, that’s not in shape,” Panatier says. “It’s all of the things that are not meant to get through.”

Wallpaper Collection by Editions on Air

In-stock items are adorned with a “pop art aesthetic,” such as the latest wallpapers and furniture. The wall plaques sell for over $1,000 and the wall-to-wall carpet for $22,000.

“People come in all the time for wallpaper, and they look at it and they talk to me about it and they go home and they try to reproduce it,” Panatier says. “People have shirts that go over they wallpaper.”

He says he’s selling handmade stuff made in more than 100 countries around the world, from “ridiculously beautiful armchairs” in Nepal to “a piece of paper being produced in Morocco,” to Indian and Chinese sneakers.

“If you go buy a cheap pair of trainers in China,” he says, “you won’t ever see this type of quality.”

And these are exactly the kinds of items that lead to big savings for customers, he says.

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