Opening 28 Jun 2007
Germans Marcus Vetter and Stefan Tolz present an interesting look at eBay, the world’s largest flea market with 150 million customers. An elderly post lady in rural Scotland delivers and mails packages from eBay customers. Their computer is practically their sole communication with the rest of the world, isolated as they are in their stone houses among their herds of sheep. The post lady is their friend and eBay makes them happy. One man would offer his hand-painted pictures of ships for sale, but after consultation with a friend (coin collector and avid eBay customer), he decides that no one can meet his price. The friend says, “It’s evolution; you either go with it or stay behind. I’m not a dinosaur; I’ll go with it.”
In Mexico American Larry Deming drives to Mata Ortiz, a small village in Mexico where he buys extremely beautiful pottery handmade by Juan Quezada and 400 potters. He sells it on eBay for a profit. (See www.tularosatrader.com). Soon some Mexican computer and website specialists visit Quezada to convince him of the advantage of cutting out the middle man (Deming) and selling straight to the market. A German family of four – father, mother, and two grown sons – all on the dole in Leipzig, attempt to augment its meagre earnings by selling fashions (a Mrs. Santa Claus dress) and gift packages of Saxon sausage and beer. They would be hilarious if their good intentions hadn’t failed so terribly.
Vetter and Tolz interview Chinese businessmen from Alibaba.com/TaoBao.com who prevented eBay from getting a grip on China. They attend an eBay “Power of All of Us” revival in California. The emotional success stories, cheerleaders, and encouragement reminded me of a quack travelling salesman in the old West. My colleague Oliver Kube said, “It’s more like Scientology if you ask me.” Pierre Omidyar founded eBay in 1995. This excellent, entertaining film tells about its expansion for better or for worse. My neighbor just sold his shoes (“I only wore them twice”) for six euros. Where else could I have bought a box of ribbons for my old-fashioned typewriter? (Becky Tan)