Looking to Cash in on Obama Memorabilia?

January 12, 2009

DAYTON, OHIO, January 12, 2009 - Posters, buttons, coins, plates, cologne and bobbleheads are just a few examples of Obama memorabilia getting snatched up by Americans wanting to own a piece of history. However, for those looking to get rich off of such merchandise, your Better Business Bureau warns the only value for most Obama memorabilia is sentimentality.

According to estimates by the New York Times, people have already spent perhaps as much as $200 million on Obamabilia. Obama memorabilia is also among eBay’s top sellers. In December, the company reported more than 111,000 Obama-related items had already been sold on its site.

"In order for memorabilia to become worth a lot of money, it generally needs to be quite rare. Unfortunately for Obama collectors, there is an excess of merchandise being sold nationwide," said John North, BBB president and CEO. "There’s nothing wrong with buying a plate or coin celebrating Barack Obama’s inauguration, but be aware the item’s value might be purely sentimental."

While most of the memorabilia attached to the Inauguration of President-elect Obama aren’t worth much, it doesn’t mean everything is worthless. There are some items that might actually increase substantially in value. Experts believe items associated with the President-elect’s senatorial stint, for example, will be more sought after than items from the presidential race.

If you’re looking to own a piece of history, your BBB offers the following advice:

Get educated.

Research the value of Obama-related items before purchasing memorabilia, especially if you’re interested in purchasing pieces with the potential for substantial appreciation in value.

Confirm authenticity.

Confirming the authenticity of memorabilia is rarely easy. Autographs can be verified by a third party, but for other items, feel free to ask the seller questions about the item, including how the seller came to own it. If the seller can’t answer simple questions, walk away.

Make purchases with a credit card.

Always purchase items with a credit card if you’re shopping online. If the seller turns out to be fraudulent, you can dispute the charge with the credit card company and may be eligible for reimbursement.

Purchase items from a reputable seller.

When shopping online, look for the BBB seal on Web sites and click on it to confirm its legitimacy. If there isn’t a BBB seal on the site, check a company out with your BBB before buying. Visit www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.

Don’t be fooled by empty advertising claims.

Just because the seller claims a commemorative plate or coin is of limited edition, it doesn’t mean there weren’t millions made. If the item is being widely advertised, chances are it’s too common to actually gain much value over the years.

Contact your BBB for more advice you can trust on shopping safely. Visit www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.

About Your BBB Serving Dayton and the Miami Valley

Your BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses earning BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. Your BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability ReportsTM and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 126 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring nearly 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Your BBB serving Dayton and the Miami Valley serves Montgomery, Greene, Clark, Darke, Miami, Preble, Shelby and northern Warren counties. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about your BBB.