Let me just get this out in the open...I love to shop. And I have to admit, I think I'm pretty good at it. I find the greatest bargains. I never pay full price for anything and if it's not at least 50% off, then it's not a good sale. Ebay has never held a lot of fascination for me, because anything I have ever checked the price on has lost it's "bargain-icity" when you add shipping. Until now. Let me tell you the story of how an addict was born...
It all started with a trip to the toy store. Not just any toy store. This toy store doesn't sell Barbie, or Ninja Turtles or Fisher-Price. They carry very high quality, high price toys. My kids love to go there and play with all the displays. On this particular day Brother spotted the toy castle and knight figures. He and Sister actually layed on their stomachs in the floor of the store and played with it the entire time we were there. Aha! An idea for a Christmas present! A toy they could all enjoy together. The castle was wooden with towers and a working drawbridge. The figures were very detailed and came in every medival character imaginable. I sauntered over to the boxed castles on the shelf to nonchalantly check out the price. ACK!! One hundred nineteen smackers...for just the castle! The figures averaged about five bucks each, but could go as high as thirteen dollars. Well, I love a challenge and I haughtily told myself I could find it cheaper, and so began my dance with the devil.
I started the search online, of course. I did a search for "toy wooden castle" and found many places that carried the same castle. Unfortunately, there was not much variation in price. I found some that were less expensive, but none so majestic and grand. I did a search for kits, thinking maybe we could make our own, but the kits wer more for collectors and less for play. I spent days on the computer, exhausting every possible option. Then, I hit the jackpot. An online toy store ran the very castle of Brother's dreams on sale for $39.99!!!!!!!!! FIGURES INCLUDED!!!! Shipping would be twenty dollars, but I could get the entire thing for sixty dollars. It was too good to be true. But alas, I didn't have the sixty dollars to spare, so I waited two days until my husband got paid. That morning I quickly logged on, excitement building to grab such a deal. I had bookmarked the site. But when I arrived, I was too late. Giant red letters screamed at me "OUT OF STOCK". Of course. A bargain like that wouldn't last long. So, I went back to the drawing board. I went back to where it all began...the pricey toy store. I scoured the shelves, thinking perhaps a smaller castle would be sufficient. But even the smallest was fifty dollars and I would have to spend more for the knights. I just couldn't bring myself to pay that much just to say we had a castle. I decided we would have to look for another present. There were all kinds of cool things to choose from and Brother's list was a mile long. We could find something else he could be just as happy with. In the car on the way home Brother said to me, "Mom, do you know what I want more than anything else for Christmas? Do you know what I want Santa to bring me?" I braced myself. Batman figures? GI Joe? A new bike? Perhaps a ninety-four cent Hot Wheel? Oh no. I couldn't be so lucky. "What?" I asked, already knowing the answer. "A castle," came his reply. Well, it was evident that I couldn't give up so easily.
I got out the yellow pages and called some closeout stores, hoping they might have some extraordinary deal. I went back online, but I had exhausted all my resources. All, but one. I went to Ebay, skeptical, to say the least. At first, it was more of the same. I scrolled on down through the search results and came upon a castle very similar to the one Brother wanted...except for the price. $19.99. Could that be right? That was the starting bid. It was brand new in the box and even came with two knights and two horses...very cool. I checked the shipping costs. Only thirteen dollars. Too good to be true. I was sure it would go for way more than that, but I decided I had nothing to lose. I placed my bid at $19.99...and watched.
For three days I checked my auction religiously. There was no change. I was still the high bidder. I had heard that people wait until the last minute and then the real bidding begins, so I wasn't too hopeful. So, on the last day of bidding, I watched it like a hawk. Still no change. Thirty-eight minutes to go. Nothing. Twelve minutes, thirty-two seconds. I was sure the bidding war was going to happen at any minute. I started to get butterflies. Seven minutes. Still no more bids. Five minutes. Three minutes. The last minute seemed to last an eternity. I watched, waited and refreshed the page. Nothing. Did I win? Refresh. Well? Should there be balloons and confetti falling from the sky heralding my victory? Refresh again. There it was. I WON! I got that silly castle for a grand total of thirty-three dollars. Oh my gosh. Could it be true? At first it was disbelief. Then a sense of fear...something must be wrong. That couldn't be right. But it was. I got an email telling me so. Ahhhh...euphoria swept over me. An awesome, unbelievable deal. It was like a drug...pulling me in, taking me over. Oh, Ebay! If I got that good of a deal on the castle, what other incredible bargains awaited me? More...I must have more!! But wait, I have to restrain myself. Keep it small. Keep it cheap. Sister needed a wedding dress for Barbie. I did the search and up popped about forty dresses. Ninety-nine cents?! Okay, I must remain in control. No bidding. I'll just "watch" it. Yeah, watching it won't hurt. Watching isn't buying. What about that DVD she wanted? I'll just look and see. I'm just curious. Four princess DVDs in a collection? It's $40 at Wal-Mart, but on Ebay...glorious Ebay...the starting bid is $1.50!!!!! I tried to stop...I knew she didn't need it. I knew I already had more presents than I had intended to buy. No...no bidding...no bidding. AAAAAHHHHHHH!!! I HAVE TO!!!!!!!! I HAVE TO BID!!!!!! I CAN'T LET THIS BARGAIN GO!!!
That strange little rectangular button with three small letters, b-i-d, has me under it's spell. I am hooked. There is no hope for me. I try to stay away, but it is futile. Each day it's a new search...a new need...a new curiosity. I tell myself I can stop whenever I want, but I keep coming back for more, as if in a trance. Oh, Ebay, you wicked creature. You are cruel in your kindness. You have awakened the dark side in me to which I am powerless to resist. I am your slave.