No More Beanie Baby Bubbles

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An article on Yahoo Finance revisits the early 1990s Beanie Baby craze, and one family that almost became bankrupt due to their collective zealotry.

Heralded as valuable collectibles, people would rush out to buy the $5.95 toys for their children or themselves, eagerly waiting for them to appreciate in value.

But then the Beanie Baby bubble burst.

As far as bubbles go, it wasn’t bad — at worst, most collectors were stuck with a few worthless stuffed animals they’d overpaid for.

Read this story about how the Robinson family not only blew $100k+ on an “investment” that never happened, but their entire lives were wasted on a venture that was far more addiction than investment vision. Whole weekends were spent tagging and organizing Beanie Baby inventory.

The first takeaway that most folks will have from this filmBankrupt by Beanies, is that the family made a bad investment call and sunk their dough into too many collectibles that didn’t appreciate. That notion is quickly dispelled by reading about the family members’ gonzo behavior, along with the inability to sell what they bought. Also, the father speaks to his “thrill” upon acquisition of each new stuffed animal, and he refers to the acquisition days as being “fun and exciting.” He notes that back in the day, he couldn’t understand why his wife and kids eventually grew weary of the family-hobby-to-nowhere.

The family is now stuck with a massive stockpile of unwanted fad toys. The Beanie Baby craze was just one small speck of lunacy that swept American culture as one fetish after another has become a beacon of civilization. The problem, however, was the boom-bubble “buy buy buy buy” mania that swept American culture, funded by easy credit (have pulse, will loan) that was enabled by government intervention and Federal Reserve policies. The video ends with this unfortunate statement:

The family still has between 15,000 and 20,000 beanie babies. But they admit despite how dire the circumstances are now, the beanie babies could come around again. “I guess we’ll see who’s crazy in 20 years,” the film ends.

Still, after 20 years, they have hope that the Beanie Baby lunacy will be reignited by some magical force. He waits and waits to hear from someone that he will cash out on a fixation that has long been six feet under. Unfortunately, the boom-bubble mentality breeds this kind of sentiment, as I have argued often. Inflationary policies have multiple social impacts that result in cultural carnage and ruined lives. Thanks to my sister, Christine DeCoster Sickler, for the link, as she remembers my position on this craze from 20 years ago. Follow me on Twitter @karendecoster.

7:43 am on July 28, 2013