Whether it's a stuffed frog playing the bongos or a person's soul you want, eBay probably has an auction for it. The giant online marketplace provides an essential service to the modern internet oriented community. Leading the surge of online shopping, eBay has been capitalizing on the growing demand for internet businesses providing users with the convenience of making purchases from the comfort of their own home. With approximately 90 million users offering a wide variety of goods, shoppers have access to an assortment of products that are otherwise unavailable for purchase through conventional means.
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The majority of eBay products are regular items such as books, electronics, antiques and sporting goods. However, odd items - like a jar filled with haunted sand - make an occasional appearance on the list of available purchases. (If you can predict what people will miss in 20 years, you can invest in it. Find out more in Contemplating Collectible Investments.)
Religious artifacts or at least artifacts resembling religious symbols are often listed on the marketplace.
Perhaps two of the most popular items sold are the Doritos Chip that looks like a Pope's hat and a piece of toast that resembles the Virgin Mary. Mrs. Duyer claimed that the burn marks on her decade old toast slice had a striking resemblance to Mary and were the cause of her lucky casino win streak. The purchase price for this item was an astonishing $28,000 while the Doritos chip sold for a measly $1,200.
Another food item, a pretzel, shaped like the Virgin Mary cradling baby Jesus was associated with a $10,600 price tag. A chicken breast shaped like Pope John Paul II recently sold for $232.50.
An interesting item found previously on eBay is the magical invisibility cloak. The advertisement for the article makes the following assertions: "Become Invisible! This is not a toy, magic trick or scam. No Lies! Become 100% invisible."
Because the presence of one's shadow defeats the purpose on invisibility, the sellers of this product even claim that your shadow become invisible.
This cloak can go hand in hand with the 18th century vampire killing kit, another artifact sold on eBay. For only $2,000 the buyer received a wooden hammer, holy water, holy soil, four stakes and other essential weapons. (You may not have to worry about vampires on Wall Street, but there are still things to fear. Find out more in Tales From Wall Street's Crypt.)
If you can't get the invisible cloak, maybe an imaginary friend available through the online auction will suffice. Jon Malipieman is "very friendly" individual, who enjoys bonfire smoke and is currently single. He, along with his a list of his likes and dislikes, was sold for over $3,000 and, although Jon is imaginary, the money paid for him is very real.
The fascination with celebrities is alive and well within the online market, with some buyers paying top dollar for pop culture memorabilia. Justin Timberlake's half eaten toast saw nearly 50 bids as the final buyer won the auction for a price that was over $3,000. Other noteworthy items within this category include a celebrity' hair and dirty socks. (Find out what happens when fame wears thin in From Celebrity To Working Stiff.)
Many savvy eBay users take the concept of "one man's garbage is another man's treasure" to the next level; in this case it is one woman's garbage. Someone quickly snapped up a piece of gum spat out by Britney Spears, only to sell it shortly afterwards for $263.
The concept of selling "garbage" extends beyond the possessions of the rich and famous, which for die-hard fans undoubtedly has sentimental value. One man, rather than emptying his computer's recycle bin, decided to auction off all of its mysterious content.
Natalie Dylan, Rosie Reid and Cary Copestakes are three women who sold their virginity to the highest bidder. Cary asked for an opening bid of $10,000 which would help her pay for her education. A business man won the auction, but simply gave her the money without following through on the purchase agreement.
Rose Reid found herself in a similar situation; overwhelmed with student loans, she decided to let others bid on her. An idea that started off as a joke, Rose decided to pursue the plan after seeing the online demand for her. eBay took down the auction after it already had over 2000 bids and a maximum offer standing at over 10,000 euros. Nonetheless, bidding continued on Ms. Reid's personal site.
eBay no longer allows people to sell their virginities through the auction website, pushing this very niche market to other available internet markets. The woman who went by the pseudonym Natalie Dylan announced on the Howard Stern Show that her virginity was up for sale. Natalie became a minor celebrity in the process, seeing bids in excess of $3.8 million, appearing on the Tyra Banks and receiving book and movie deal offers. (Sex or money, find out which is the bigger issue in The No.1 Reason Why Couples Fight.)
The list of ridiculous items offered through eBay extends far beyond the aforementioned selection. Other noteworthy products that people have tried selling, and in most circumstances sold, include: used McDonald's cheeseburger wrappers, pure Columbian cocaine (obviously taken down immediately by the site), the right to one's shadow (sold for $17), advertising space on one's body (sold for $37,375), a potato chip in the shape of Pac Man, a ghost in a jar (selling for slightly over $50,000) and a glove filled with flour. The sale of one's soul has become another popular eBay item.
Everything is on Sale
Unlike physical stores which sell specific products that cater to a certain niche of consumers, eBay provides variety that is beyond the typical selection found at a Wal-Mart or Best Buy. So next time you find an oddly shaped potato chip at the bottom of the bowl or a celebrity drops their dirty napkin and you can quickly pick it up, just remember, there's probably a buyer for those items somewhere out there.
If you're still feeling uninformed, check out last week's business highlights in Water Cooler Finance: Auto Hope, Bubbling Oil and Obamanomics.