122. A Good Buy

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Christopher loved to shop at thrift stores. Almost a month ago, he bought a popular word game that uses little chips of wood with different letters on them. As he was purchasing it, the clerk said, "Oh, look, the game box hasn't even been opened yet! That might be worth some money."

Christopher examined the box and, sure enough, it was completely enveloped in factory-sealed plastic. When he looked at the box cover, he saw that beneath the name of the game and the description was a copyright date of 1973.

"You should put that up for auction on the Internet, and see what happens," the clerk said.

"Yes, you're right," Christopher agreed. "I think I'll give that a try. The rarity of something is part of what increases its value, and I can't imagine there being very many unopened boxes of this game still around 30 years later. Maybe it's worth millions!"

"Well, if it is, don't forget who told you about the wrapper," the clerk smiled. "No problem. You're getting a percentage of anything over $10," Christopher said. The game itself was priced at only $1.99, and the clerk gave Christopher the usual 10 percent senior discount. "You've got yourself a deal, partner," she replied, laughing.

At home, Christopher went online to several auction sites looking for his specific product. He couldn't find it anywhere on the auction sites. Then he typed in the name of the word game and hit Search. The response was 5,543 sites containing that name. Christopher examined the first 10 sites and found a site that listed people looking for various versions of the game. Over the years, the game had been produced using different chip sizes, colors, materials, and even fonts.

In addition, different game boards were produced over the years, themselves consisting of different colors and fonts. The game board had never changed in size or material. Most of the game seekers seemed content with used games. Only a few even mentioned "fresh" unopened games. Those who wanted unopened games all promised top dollar. Christopher emailed all of them, telling them what he had.

Two weeks later, Christopher went back to the thrift shop. He said to the clerk, "How are you doing, partner?" She looked at him for a second, then recognized him and said, "Oh, hi, partner!" "I've got something for you," he beamed. "I'm sorry it didn't turn out to be millions. Maybe if I waited another 20 years, but by then the plastic wrapper might have rotted off. Here's your share."

He handed her three $100 bills. "Wow!" she exclaimed. "Thank you! You're such a nice partner. How much did you get for it?" "One thousand. I hope that you're okay with 30 percent." "Okay?! I'm thrilled! I never expected to see a dime. We'll have to do more business together." "You got it, partner!" Christopher smiled.

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