A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Seller!

Sellers can be crazy on Craigslist.  No, not stalker-killer crazy, I mean they can sometimes cheat themselves out of lots of money by poorly describing what it is they’re selling, selling items they’ve never advertised or accepting offers much too quickly.

Today, I’d like to share a story of a seller going completely mad. I could probably share a lot more stories, but rarely do I have enough of a paper-trail that I can relay them properly.  Thankfully, I have a few friends who are collectors and sometimes our paths cross so perfectly…well, it becomes a tale that can be actually be told.

The Dirty Sawdust “Mystery Box” Guy

Is there anything more exciting than a mystery box?  These are ads for boxes of retro stuff that the seller hasn’t dug through to give a proper listing of what’s in them.  These are so much fun, especially when the price is low enough to outweigh the risk. What, oh what, could be in them?  WE HAVE TO KNOW!

On April 21, 2015, one such seller posted this ad to the Denver Craigslist:

I recently pulled all my boxes from storage and came across a bunch of Nintendo stuff I don’t want.

This box sat in a dusty storage unit for 5 years, but I’m pretty sure everything can be cleaned. I haven’t turned it on.

So, it’s $75 OBO.

The only picture provided in the Craigslist post.  For a fun challenge, take a minute and see how many games you can identify.

The only picture provided in the post. For a fun challenge, take a minute and see how many games you can identify.

A buddy of mine, Nick, had would text me a link to the ad. I was able to identify a handful of common NES games but unable to resist the mystery of what else there could be.  Now let’s follow the timeline of events:

2:20 PM – The ad is posted to Craigslist.

2:39 PM – Nick texts me the ad.

2:40 PM – I text the seller with the message: “I’d be interested in the box you have on Craigslist, but I’d have to search through it before committing to buying. Can I swing by today?”

2:45 PM – My buddy, Nick, offers the seller $60. I’m not aware he’s done this quite yet.

2:49 PM – I finally hear back: “Already sold it. Shit goes fast.” I find the response a bit odd. I let Nick know what I just heard, assuming he’s the one who got it.  He says no.

2:55 PM – Nick tells me he made the offer of $60 only to see if the box was still available or not.  The seller has not yet told him that it’s sold, however.  In fact, the seller has now just told Nick he’d take the $60.

Alright, let’s stop right here and look at what just happened.  A seller is asking $75 for his items and in less than 30 minutes they’ve already received at least two offers, with one of them being a lower offer of $60. He proceeds to tell the other bidders the item is sold before he has accepted the lower offer.

Make sense?  I know. OK, let’s continue:

3:02 PM – Nick and the seller still have no confirmed meeting place and, obviously, no payment has been made, but the ad is now deleted.

The seller has now gone silent.  Nick is unsure of what it means and doesn’t feel confident he actually has a deal in place.

4:19 PM – The seller contacts Nick again.  After having believed the deal might’ve been done with someone else, Nick realizes he’s still first in line. For $60.

At this point, Nick is asking me if I want to split it with him and pick it up.  I’m unable to and decline. Humorously, the ad has been deleted for over an hour and the seller has no established time and place for when the transaction will happen.  In all this time, he not only declined at least one $75 offer, but he’s not receiving any more because the ad is no longer active!

All for a $60 offer?  Bizarre!

4:35 PM – The time and place is finally confirmed. Nearly 2 hours after I was told the item was sold, the seller has a planned deal. It’s still unusual the ad is down. Until the item is sold, why not leave the possibility open for an offer of $75 or potentially more?

OK, a transaction is planned.  We’re done right? NO! Now, remember, the ad has been down for an hour and a half now.  The settled cost is $60, which is a 20% discount from the original asking price.  And now…now…the seller is responding to Nick about providing more details and pics of the items.


4:39 PM – The seller confirms that an NES and SNES console are included in the deal by sending pics of them.  Why now? If the seller believes the deal is done and has removed the ad and rebuffed other suitors, why is he trying to convince Nick to buy now?


Already, this picture tells us so much more about the value of the box. We see the two consoles there, plus Super Mario Kart and, wow, an unlicensed game. That raises our confidence there might be a gem or two.

4:43 PM – The seller sends more pics of the items that were in the box. Specific titles are revealed.  The seller adds: “I’m debating keeping the Super Mario Kart, Super Mario World and Kirby’s Avalanche for nostalgic purposes.”  Why were the titles kept so secret while the ad was active if the seller is willing to give details afterwards? We’re already at over $50 of lost cash for this guy.

4:50 PM – Nick offers $75 (the original price) if he keeps those titles included with the whole offer. It seems odd that the seller has threatened to take items away, but now we’re back to the $75 price so.The question again remains: what is the point of a negotiation if you’ve prevented anyone else from competing?

At this point, the conversation is over.  Two full hours after declaring to me the items are sold, the seller is providing additional pics of the items, and negotiating from a lower price, with a seller that’s still not fully committed.

So, how did things turn out?  Tell me, do you think this seller could’ve gotten more than $75 if he’d have just taken the items out, taken pictures, and put them in the ad in the first place?

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To top it all off, his lone picture showed about one dozen potential games. There were actually 50 games and two consoles to go along with them!  The seller had been too lazy to provide details on what games were included until after the ad was removed and he’d accepted an offer of $15 less.


Ultimately, he got the full $75 after threatening to hold on to the pricier SNES games. Perhaps a plot to get the full price that he wanted?  But, let me ask you this, if the seller would’ve just taken pics of all the games and console he had and waited a few hours longer for offers…how much do you think he could’ve gotten?

I guess it’s just a mad, mad world out there.

Let us know what you think!  How much would you have paid?  Comment below!

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About John Blanco

John Blanco is an avid game collector and loves to write about his hobby as much as he participates in it. He run the Denver Retro Gamers Facebook group in Denver, Colorado, and coordinates swap-style meetups with dozens of other collectors every couple of months.

One thought on “A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Seller!

  1. lol. I think his sales strategy was the definition of low hanging fruit.

    I’m no expert on the prices of all those games (circa 2015) but even a couple years ago there is probably $200 worth of value there AS IS, if the games were all listed with pictures. That would have been about 10 minutes of work? So $125 lost for 10 minutes work.

    Cleaning and testing the games and consoles could have netted him even more for an afternoons worth of work and less than $50 spent. They could have determined if this extra effort was worth it just by using google. I mean you go to the minimal effort of taking a picture or two and writing up an ad on craigslist with some knowledge that what your selling has some value but you can’t spend maybe half an hour doing some research. Assuming everything works and was thoroughly cleaned you could have sold the NES with a SMB cart and some of the lesser games as one lot and the SNES and the other games individually. It comes down to what you are willing to invest (time and money). A few weeks of patience to part it out and this would have been a nice little payday.

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