My first job was definitely of the untraditional type. I was having a conversation with my best friend and my father about our childhood jobs, and I remember listening to them talk about working for a catering service and grocery store while I tried my hand at eBay. As we each shared our experiences, I found myself thinking about how eBay is pure economics. Of course, that was an obvious thought, I mean, eBay is a marketplace that connects vendors and consumers of ‘stuff’ over the internet, but when I took a minute to let this thought percolate, it certainly upholds basic economic principles.
I had known about eBay for some time; my father was an intense Power Seller in the early 2000s when the unique auction house was in its prime, selling Ugg boots and Nike Shox at ridiculous profit margins. I can recall those early Saturday morning runs to the shoe stores to purchase several pairs of the infamous boots and watching him meticulously write descriptions for each product. I didn’t fully understand the total operation of being a seller until I re-opened my father’s account in my sophomore year of high school. I realized my spending habits were greatly exceeding my allowance, but I didn’t want to have to work somewhere or for someone (its a millennial thing, I guess). I didn’t know much, so I decided to sell what I knew would make money, which was what my dad sold. I, along with my brother, sold newly released/limited edition Nike shoes, backpacks, and Starbucks mugs. We didn’t make a killing, like my dad, but we always managed to have a decent amount of cash in our pockets–and it definitely didn’t hurt my resume when applying to colleges. Looking back on these experiences, with some acquired knowledge about economics and finance, I’m better understanding the principles with which my business functioned.
Over the next several days, I will be looking at eBay through an economic lens examining technology, incentives, rationales, and utility.