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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
Minnesota and North Dakota
Looking to Cash in on Obama Memorabilia? Think Again Advises BBB
January 13, 2010

Posters, buttons, coins, plates, cologne, bobbleheads: these are just a few examples of the kinds of Obama memorabilia that are getting snatched up by Americans wanting to own a piece of history. However, for those who are looking to get rich off of such merchandise, Better Business Bureau warns that the only value for most Obama memorabilia is sentimentality.  

According to estimates by the New York Times, consumers 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 that more than 111,000 Obama-related items had already been sold on their site.  

“In order for memorabilia to become worth much money, it generally needs to be quite rare, unfortunately for Obama collectors, there is a glut of merchandise being sold nationwide,” said Barb Grieman, interim president of the BBB of MN and ND.  “There’s nothing wrong with buying a plate or a coin celebrating Barack Obama’s inauguration, but consumers need to be aware that the value of the item might be purely sentimental.” 

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

For consumers looking to own a piece of history, BBB offers the following advice: 

Get educated.

Collectors should research the value of Obama-related items before they begin purchasing memorabilia, especially if they are interested in purchasing pieces that have 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, the collector should 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, then the collector should walk away. 

Make purchases with a credit card.

Consumers should always purchase items with a credit card if they are shopping online. If the seller turns out to be fraudulent, then the consumer can dispute the charge with the credit card company and may be eligible for reimbursement.  

Purchase items from a reputable seller.

When shopping online, collectors should look for the BBB seal on Web sites and click on the seal to confirm its legitimacy. If there isn’t a BBB seal on the site, shoppers should always check a company out with their BBB before they buy at www.thefirstbbb.org.  

Don’t be fooled by empty advertising claims.

Just because the seller claims that a commemorative plate or coin is of limited edition, it doesn’t mean that 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.  

For more BBB advice you can trust on shopping safely go to www.thefirstbbb.org.

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