Rockin’ around the Christmas tree

Almost every year around this time there are hot commodities on the Christmas shopping list that are in short supply, either because people fall prey to marketing hype or generally lack imagination. I never did have a Cabbage Patch doll, Beanie Baby, or Tickle Me Elmo. But I did have a pet rock, although it wasn’t originally intended for me. Come to think of it, there probably isn’t anything more pathetic than a pet rock re-gift, especially when it comes from a boyfriend. But I digress.

I kept the pet rock for many years and only got rid of it in a fit of de-junkification a year or two ago. As you probably know, the allure of the pet rock wasn’t really about the rock. It was about the owner’s manual. Apparently the guy who invented it was able to print all the original run of manuals pretty much for free by tacking them on to a print job he had already bought. As a result, he became an instant millionaire because the rocks themselves cost about 1 cent each (although if he was actually willing to pay for rocks I could have probably nabbed some consulting dollars from him…). However, the pet rock care and training guide had some very useful information, such as the fact that getting your rock to ‘stay’ would be a very easy task, although ‘roll over’ might require some assistance from the owner. It also advised avoiding trying to teach the rock to ‘attack’ because that would probably not end well.

But that is not the point. The point is that the pet rock falls into the category of things I really should have kept. That’s because, like Beanie Babies and vintage Cabbage Patch dolls, eventually even useless novelties become collector’s items that can reap rewards on eBay as long as they are pretty close to their original condition (I guess that hair cut wasn’t a good idea, Barbie). I also no longer have my Beatles wallet (pink plastic), Expo 67 passport , or any Flintstone’s or astronaut grape jelly jars that turned into drinking glasses when empty, even though we ate our way through gallons of grape jelly to complete the set.

The real the real trick is figuring out what you should hold on to because apparently not everything increases in value. I am still trying to figure out why I have moved my accounting text books several times, except when I look at the price I paid for them. And really, has accounting changed that much over the years that they are now obsolete? Last I checked, debits and credits are still the modus operandi of the accounting profession. Or maybe it’s because I still harbour a secret wish to become an accountant. Regardless, the real key to making money from keeping junk is to encourage everybody else to throw away their ‘useless’ stuff, because if everyone keeps the same thing it becomes worthless.


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