May 19, 2024

Barbie Scalpers Flood Ebay With Suddenly Popular Leads At 325% Markup.

Lurking beneath the whirlwind that is Barbiemania, eBay scalpers have seen an opportunity to make a quick buck. Merchandise related to the film, including everything from limited edition Xbox Series S to sneakers and watches, has not gone unnoticed by resellers who are flooding the popular market with rare items at inflated prices.

One suddenly popular item is a limited edition, bright pink, Barbie-branded cup that is exclusive to Cinemark cinemas. There was a scramble to buy the pink drink holder when it launched on Cinemark’s website last week for $19.99, with a flood of successful buyers quickly listing their purchases on eBay for up to $85—a 325% increase on the original sale price. Cinemark’s Barbie-themed blanket and popcorn tin have been popular, both selling for inflated prices on eBay and Japanese marketplace Mercari.

Some frustrated fans told me that Cinemark didn’t put limits on the amount of items that could be bought at once, which meant that several people could have purchased in one purchase to be sold on later. One buyer I spoke to, Amanda, said, “Cinemark made a huge mistake with this rollout,” with another fan account telling me that “the website seemed to let you add whatever was available in the cart, who knows how many people bought in bulk.”

There is a huge demand for these particular items. Two other Barbie fans I spoke to said they called multiple stores, another explained that they were refreshing Cinemark’s website three hours before the seller collapsed. I asked Cinemark if it allows customers to buy more than one product at a time and if more stock is on the way, but the movie theater did not respond by the time of publication.

The Barbie cup, blanket and popcorn tin are still available on Cinemark’s website, but they aren’t shipping until October. It seems like the only place to get these items right now is through resale websites. A bundle of all three (with an extra cup), for example, is currently listed on Mercari for $500, a 585% increase on the original combined sale price. The hype for these three items, and how scalpers quickly took advantage of it, reminds me of the PlayStation 5 shortage in 2020 and 2021 that saw the console sell for more than double its retail price.

There was a cat and mouse game between retailers and scalpers, who were using bots and other technology, to bulk order consoles. That level of sophistication doesn’t seem to be used here, and perhaps scalers could order several items at once. The other difference is that the Playstation 5 was a $499 gaming machine that was in short supply due to a global chip shortage, these are $20 trinkets. Why have these three items become the must-have piece of merchandise against all others?

READ: PlayStation 5 Scalpers Not Happy With Their Public Image

Every buyer I spoke to gave me a different answer, ranging from the practicality of the blanket to the popular and long-lasting cups – which of course was reinforced by the official Barbie branding. Jian Yang, a long-time Barbie fan and owner of one of the world’s largest collections of Barbie dolls, provided the simplest answer. “Instagram is saying it’s very tasty (and cheap) compared to the other licensed stuff.”

That other licensed material is merchandise killing. There are official Barbie scooters, watches, bags, clothes, the aforementioned Xbox and more. People with old Barbie products sitting around are also getting in on the action. The was foresight to hold their original Xbox 2003, a copy of Free online game Barbie Horse Adventures: Wild Horse Rescue (metacritic score: 52) in its original plastic packaging. It is currently listed on eBay for $220. Another eBay seller, Dianne, told me she’s been trading Barbie items “cheap as chips” for a while, but she’s seeing an increase in sales and interest. “Barbie is so popular. I think the film may have caught the attention of kids who weren’t interested before, I’m getting a lot of new customers,” said Dianne.

Everyone seems to be feeding off the hype machine. StockX shared with me some data showing that the market has more sales of Barbie products in July than any other month in the company’s history. Also, the number of Barbie product listings on StockX has increased by more than 100% year-on-year. (July 2023 vs. July 2022). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most popular Barbie-themed items on StockX are the Crocs Classic Mega Crush Clogs, which are selling for $185, $100 over their retail price.

Will the hype last? Yang says the competition for Barbie merch will continue for the time being. “If you listen to Mattel, it’s clear they’re trying to do a franchise model. It will be like Transformers one, two, three, four and five. Barbie is not going to be a one-off movie… so it’s going to be a trend, but I don’t know how long it’s going to last.”

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