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Ed Said - The gift that keeps on giving


dadTwo of my grandchildren aged 10 and four (don’t underestimate the business acu-men of a four-year-old) were promised a day at Rainbows End BUT they had to pay for it themselves. Set a target of $200 they went through their old toys, books and games and loaded them all on Trade Me, plus designer label baby clothes, shoes and what-have-you. Working on the pretext that “one man’s trash…” they set out to do business. The result was almost $300 and two very satisfied kids. There is really nothing that can’t be bought or sold on Trade Me.

National news didn’t go so far as to say that the credit crunch was over but they did say Kiwis pre-christmas spend (read card debits) was the largest for years. That’s great to see and at least shows a big jump in optimism among the general public. Further to this, a number of shops fielded queues of people lining up the next day for even big-ger Boxing Day bargains.

And then it happened! On a special category for ‘Unwanted gifts’ on Trade Me was listed 18,000 articles in 24 hours from mid-day Christmas Day.

Christmas Day used to involve the ritualistic opening of presents. Nowadays it seems the major activity is loading things you don’t like/want/need on an auction site. Regardless of how well you know or love someone, some people are very difficult to buy for. Especially with regard to shoes and clothes, getting the right size and taste can be a problem. Then there are the double-ups. Books are a good stocking-filler but but it’s not good to simply guess the genre that the recipient prefers.

A woolly mammoth coat, perfumed body cream, a magnetic underlay and Valerie Adams' biography were some of the first unwanted gifts to hit Trade Me listings fol-lowed closely by a non-stick fry pan, a Casio G-shock watch, a 42-piece cutlery set, and that perennial Christmas favourite, a box of scorched almonds and a whole smoked ham. True!

Other items most likely to be on-sold included linen, stationery, electric shavers, DVDs, ties and even a very smart diamond engagement ring was listed, probably the result of an over-zealous proposal for a love unrequited.

A flash new LG smartphone was going for $520 by early Boxing Day afternoon described by its seller as an "unwanted gift as I have an iPhone 4."

Clothing, sunglasses and handbags that were intended as thoughtful gifts for women were also plentiful this year.

Lots of gym and slimming club memberships were re-offered. They’re easy last minute gifts indicating someone hasn’t been entirely forgotten but it’s like telling someone you love on Christmas Day that they ‘need to lose a bit of weight’. There is no diplomatic way to deliver such a message.

And spare a thought for one seller who listed his auction under the heading "Worst Christmas Present Ever?" He got a sampler box of biscuits in return for “a random act of kindness to a stranger.” Unfortunately, when he opened the box he found only stale, broken and melted biscuits and a use-by date that expired six months previously.

Despite the weird and wonderful listings, only a fraction still remain today, proof that everything has some value to someone and even if you’re not taking part it’s interesting to view – better than a lot of TV.

I’m pleased to say that business propri-etors and retailers across Mangawhai re-port good trade over the holiday period and share in the general optimism. Even those whose doors remained shut when the town was crawling with people obviously have sufficient in the coffers to allow them a little time off.

Don’t forget books and uniforms, school’s not far away. Special dates to remember this year are April 5-6 and July 8. I’ll reveal all next issue.

Cheers, Rob

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