Designer Collaborations and eBay Scalpers

16 Jul
Anytime there is a desired product with limited quantities, consumer demand goes through the roof.  (I kind of sort of paid attention in Econ!)  Logic dictates that if a product has a high demand, then those scarce quantities result in inflated prices.
I say all that to say this–I understand why eBay scalpers exist.  There are people willing to pay exorbitant mark-ups for products they really want.  And, at the end of the day, do brands really care who buys their products–as long as they’re bought?  
I’m such an idealist–I always truly think that companies care about me–their consumer.  I think it comes from working all those years in retail–I always genuinely liked the customers who came through our doors, and I wanted them to get the best deals possible.  I wanted them to have a safe, happy environment in which to shop–mostly because I always want a safe, happy environment when I shop.  (The Golden Rule…Do unto others…)
Now, I understand that my happy world of idealism and love isn’t real life, but it never hurts to try, right?  I posted a few days ago about how excited I was about Target’s upcoming holiday collaboration with Neiman Marcus.  I mean, talk about a dream list of goodies that I would love to find under my Christmas tree.  
But, I have a sinking feeling that this won’t be an enjoyable experience of happily perusing amazing pieces at amazing prices.  If my experience with Jason Wu for Target is any indication, then I am almost dreading having to get shoved aside by men taking the entire stock in order to make a quick buck off eBay.  Now, I’m not a small girl, and at 5’11 (and trained/ready to take down attackers–thanks, Mom!) I’m not afraid to push back if some guy comes at me, but should I really have to think about that when I’m shopping?  Should I have to plan out how I’m going to keep myself and my friends safe while trying to buy something cute?  
I just sent the following letter to Gregg Steinhafel, Target’s CEO:
Good morning!
I’m a fashion blogger and Target Style enthusiast, and I wanted to start by saying that I am so excited about your upcoming collaboration with Neiman Marcus! 
I wanted to ask you to think about your store’s policies during these designer collaborations.  Because of the huge media attention Missoni received, what was once a great shopping experience has turned into something both frustrating and dangerous. 
I’ve been a fan of your designer collaborations for years, and I treasure some of my amazing scores from Proenza and Rodarte and Tucker.  I always loved shopping these collections–at least until Missoni came.   I didn’t personally shop that collection since I’m not a zig-zag 1970’s fan, but I did go to the Jason Wu sale. 
What happened there was infuriating and rather outrageous.  I got to my local Target early, and stood in line with a number of other women who were both excited and pleasant…except for the eBay scalpers….  Grown men shoving women out of the way to grab entire racks of clothing, or families teaming up to fill carts and carts of clothes.  How disappointing it was to be excited for the sale, have a few items we loved, but then miss out on the majority of it because a few people pushed and shoved to buy the entire collection.   I’m sure you’re well aware that in the hours after the sale, Jason Wu product flooded eBay and other online resale sites with prices marked up almost four times what they originally sold for.
Experiences like this make me almost afraid to come to your next sale.  I understand that this is a potentially difficult situation to deal with–how do you keep the experience safe and fair for your consumers without potentially offending others?  
I truly believe that you are not a corporation that would put sales figures above the safety and enjoyment of your customers, and as a style blogger, I am so excited to cover this upcoming collaboration.  I know the issue of our safety in dealing with the eBay scalpers was a hot issue with Jason Wu and Missoni, and will surface again as December 1 comes closer and closer. 
I can honestly say that I don’t know what a perfect solution would be.  Maybe customers are limited to two of each item (so we can figure out sizing), or each store has multiple employees assigned only to the sale to stop this kind of behavior.
I just have this weird dread in my chest when I think about this Neiman Marcus collaboration–I’m so excited to plan for and shop it with my girlfriends, but I’m afraid of fighting these grown men who rip clothes out of our hands or buy up everything so that the real fans are left spending exorbitant amounts on eBay.
I will be posting this letter on my blog (www.rubywoolovesyou.com), and would love to post a response.  Again, I can’t say enough how much I love shopping with Target, and how excited I am for the style direction in which you are headed.  Target is my go-to for style basics, and I frequent my hometown store at least once a week.
Thanks for your time and your response.  I look forward to hearing from you, and I feel like opening up a dialogue about this will only serve to enhance the perception that you do care about your consumers.
Thanks so much, and have a great day.

It’s probably wishful thinking to go right to the top, but Target’s Contact Us forms didn’t seem to be working, and a quick Google search resulted in his email address.  It’ll be interesting to see their response, as I’ve never seen anything policy-wise officially stated regarding this issue.
What do you guys think?  How should Target (and other stores, like H&M) handle these kinds of issues?  Am I expecting too much of these huge retailers?  Or should we, as consumers, begin to expect (and even demand?) a safe and fun environment in which to shop.   A little competition is okay–I mean, that’s what makes it fun!  But, I think the difference is missing out because another girl took the last dress in my size versus a guy who literally dumped the entire rack in his cart so he could make a profit on eBay–that’s where I draw the line.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and if you have time, I encourage you to email Target for yourself and request answers to your questions.
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2 Responses to “Designer Collaborations and eBay Scalpers”

  1. Chalupa July 16, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    I saw a Mom and Dad grab the entire rack of clothing during Jason Wu, sometimes right when you were reaching for it. Bad, but it was downright disturbing when the Mom yelled at the kid to hurry and grab something out of my cart. I totally agree with the "2 item" rule. In other sales, there are often limits on how many each customer can buy.

  2. Franziska July 16, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

    That was so well written Ruby! I sincerely hope they put some kind of rule in place. This will be my first collaboration shopping experience, so I'm excited but nervous. I think the 2 of each item would be the best rule – obviously there isn't a chance to try things on, but for people to grab a bunch of stuff is just rude.

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