About Garage Sales and Ponzi Schemes

The Roman Emperors understood... and now, as the result of regular Saturday morning garage sale exursion, I do too.

Life's full of Ponzis

Life's full of Ponzis

My wife the eBay queen, is having a hot streak lately. Not only is she a power seller, this week eBay elevated her to preferred seller. One of the many supplier venues for her eBay success comes from religiously mapping out and attending garage sales, yard sales and estate sales. Now before you get me wrong and start up the car every Friday and Saturday morning at 6:30 AM to execute a circle around Amelia Island’s garage sales offerings, I got news for you:
a. you need to know what the markets on eBay are looking for and
b. you need to be darn good at defining pricing.

It takes a good 3-4 years to get that knowledge. But anyway, my wife’s natural ability to communicate with about everyone in the solar system, we call her the social butterfly, is a great plus as well in her endeavors.

I had stopped going with her on the Saturday morning outings because it had become too regimented. It used to be an outing for the two of us away from kids and pets. You see, now she approaches a yard sale sign with screeching brakes, white knuckles on the steering wheel, and a quick scan. “I’m on a mission”, she admits. So before I could unfold my 240 pound frame out of the passenger seat of her little convertible, she prefers to drive her car, she’s already back behind the wheel, burning rubber to the next pit stop.

But then this morning I mumbled half asleep “You want me to go with you?” And when she said, “That would be very nice”, my fate was sealed. Four minutes later I was folded into her two seater, no coffee, and away she sped to the first address on the list. While giving me the outline of this morning’s mission, she also told me that the last stop would be down the street from where we live, where she had befriended two sisters Deb and Kris, who were moving from a 2300 square foot condo to a 900 square foot apartment on the beach. Interesting tidbit I thought. People are preparing for worse or like me, these gals are ocean lovers.

Well, it was a slow morning to start out. Three stops and nothing to show for it. Either people thought they were in the gold exchange business, or the offerings were just absolute crap. On the 4th stop we hit a little pay dirt, the 5th and 6th planned stops we quickly cruised by after looking at the display of goods from the car window and the 7th stop was the only one off island. Piney Island is about as far as she gets off Amelia Island as history has taught her that the outskirts of Nassau County are treacherous and hardly ever worth the trip. The exception she has shared with me, neighborhood and multi family sales.

But then finally we made it to the final moving sale of her two friends Deb and Kris. Walking down the driveway there was hectic activity and bidding going on and I thought , hmmm this is a lively scene, until I found out the reason. One older, charming, classy and well dressed woman, known to be living in a condo on the beach near Peters Point, was selling a regular Ponzi scheme to the sisters… in broad daylight??!!

Like a real New York street hustler she whispered: “You want to make some real money?” Well that is not necessarily a question a lot of people turn nonchalantly away from. So immediately the conversation went to a lower decibel level, where the explanation was given, “You pay $300 into this network, which will get you registered. As other people join, you rise higher and higher into the network and when you reach the top, you get paid a bonus.”
“How much?” is the immediate question emanating from the audience.
“$10,000” comes the answer with the speed of a bullet. People look at each other and I wonder if Bernie Madoff got the same type of visual incredulity when he explained to his “investors” the enormous profits they could be anticipating. Faces were filled with greed and if anyone would have carried $300 in cash, a feeding frenzy would have been the result. Greed is a human instrument that apparently overrides most any form of¬† sensibility. It puts the brain cells on non-active and caution to the wind. When the elegant lady (she looked a little like a female Madoff) mentioned that there are so many new registrations that a computer keeps track of the network now, I just smiled.

“There is a sucker born every second” came to mind. That thought lost position to another one: “People want to be cheated”.

Pretty soon my mind was expanding to, “Democracy is great, but don’t give it to the people”, while finally finding its resting point at, “Give them bread and games and they eat out of your hand”.

Mr. Ponzi understood. The Roman Emperors understood… and now, as the result of¬† regular Saturday morning garage sale exursion, I do too.

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  1. Hal_Burns

    I too have a wife that has for years set out on Saturday morning missions that would make military Recon units look like boy scout troops. Friday is dedicated to planning out the “kill” zone for Saturday monring. I must say I try not to go on these Saturday morning outings because they are just too demanding. It's hurry lets go, it's 6:30 and the first sale is at 8:00, then why are we leaving so early? They expect us to get there early… Then why don't they advertise an earlier time? It doesn't work like that. Once there if nothing is found then it's hurry, hurry lets go we've got to get to the other one, quick before anyone else does. White nuckles, I know what they look like. Much too competitive for me. I guess I'm slowing in my old age. The Ponzi scheme did interest me though, how do I get intouch with this lady??????????????????

  2. tommylee

    I think the Ponzi's of the world are considered the heroes of the world. No matter how you look at the “Illegal act” in the echelon circles, to most you and me people we have gotten used to the “get rich quick schemes”. As long as you stay under the radar, have a good believable story, know how to “sell” the story and can rely on a never ending pyramid of people (which doesn't exist yet the infinite number for most people starts at one million) you can continue “selling” the ponzi.

    The reason why I say Ponzi's are looked upon as heroes of society is because, although the victims got taken for a ride, they still believe in the “ride” no matter how hard you try to explain that infinity doesn't exist that magical number is still a million.

  3. John Wheelwright

    Better yet. Not only do they believe in the ride, they enjoy the notoriety that comes with being invited on the ride. Unbelievable.

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