Wow, this looks like a resurrection of a thread I started way back on the old board. It started after a little pip squeak calling me a scalper! Ironically enough, we DID NOT live in the same town. I typically share my finds on the board as I'm not directly competing with anyone locally for supply. I do INVEST in Lego like others would invest in the stock market. Sometimes I buy bad stocks like alpha team, knights kingdom and EXO force. But there are certain stocks that always perform well, Star Wars, Spongebob, Batman are recognizable brands like Coca Cola and my employer Microsoft. I'm fairing a whole lot better than those who chose the stock market right now, that's for sure!
Value is determined by the BUYERS in a free market. When you get a bunch of buyers together in a store looking at the same thing, they determine the price of the item. If a seller is asking too much, the item sits on the shelf. They lower the price a few people buy, they lower it more and a bunch more buy. Once the price hits a certain point (equilibrium), all of the supply is bought up by all of the demand. On the auction side, eBay does a perfect job of valuing sets by letting the buyers determine the value and not the seller. The seller has no control over the pricing unless they list a fixed price. However, they can't make anyone buy at their price!
All of your arguments don't hold water for scalping. In order for it to work:
You need to have an extremely limited supply of an item (food, toilet paper, event ticket or Lego set).
There has to be a very small time window in order to obtain the item (you need to eat, wipe, see the show, build the set).
There has to be a very high demand for the item (you're one of a great many that wants or needs it).
The offender purchases the item in order to control some of the supply of the item.
The offender sells the item at an artificially inflated value.
The buyers do not have any control over pricing by bidding or driving the price up to a natural equilibrium where supply meets demand.
A devil's advocate point of view could also defend the scalper. If everyone bought a ticket to a show they intended to go to and I either found out about the show too late to buy the ticket or was unable to buy the ticket when it first went on sale, I would have no chance of seeing that show. The scalper provides me an opportunity to still get a ticket, and it's up to how much of a fan I am on how much I'm willing to pay. For example, I'm a UF grad and live in Atlanta. The SEC championship game was here and I went down to the stadium with my brother to see the Gators stomp the Tide. I told him what I was willing to pay to see them ($200), not one dollar more. The scalpers were there, asking $300 a ticket. We searched for a while and ended up seeing it at a nearby bar. Some scalpers had to sell their tickets near face value around half time, I'm sure which would be a loss for them. I made the decision to not pay their prices and having that ticket was not worth it to me (thought in hindsight of a national championship season, I might have gone up a little
The only set I can think about that met some of this criteria was the castle advent calendar. The set came out through limited distribution via the shop@home 800 number. There was a limited supply and buyers were limited to two purchases. I believe there was reasonably high demand for this set, I know I wanted one. Some buyers kept calling and reordering two sets. The set sold out fairly quickly. In some ways I don't think this example fits as it took at least two weeks to sell out and that's plenty of time to buy it if you had read the post about it's availability. Now the set is on bricklink and eBay for inflated prices. Again, some of these are auctions and it is the buyers that are driving up the prices on eBay.
As far as calling anyone either here or on eBay a Lego scalper is absolutely ridiculous! I, nor anyone else on here, can affect the supply of sets that you have access to on a large scale. Yes, on a small scale, I might affect your ability to get a set if we shop at the same Target store. However, how long was the set available for? Is it my fault you didn't pay retail for it while you had the chance? Did you try another Target, Walmart, TRU, online store, etc? Heck, did you take advantage of the sale Target or Amazon had or get a rain check if they were sold out? The one thing someone can accuse me of is decreasing your chances of finding a set on clearance in my town. I just happen to be better informed than most. I use all of the tools at my disposal and a lot of hard work and repetitive price checking when I'm in stores.
So, if you want something, get it while you can. If supply is diminished, use alternative methods to find what you're looking for. Ask a member on here where to find the sets you're looking for while they're available. You have no one else but yourself to blame if you wait too long to buy something that won't be on a shelf forever. It's not Lego's job to keep producing the same sets forever. We'd be bored with them and move on to something else. They change the line to keep us interested!
This reminds me, I need to put my eBay store link back in my signature