Those hard-to-find Trader Joe's bags listed on eBay for as much as $1,000 will be back in stores this summer

By Charles Passy

The $2.99 ​​canvas bags have received a lot of attention on social media.

Forget Stanley water bottles. The new "it" collectible is a supermarket shopping bag.

Trader Joe's mini canvas totes, which sell in stores for $2.99 ​​each and are available with straps in a variety of colors, have become a hot item among fans of the supermarket chain, Like New Yorker magazine and public radio bags, which are usually given away as subscriber bonuses, they have become fashionable in recent years.

Trader Joe's bags have apparently disappeared from store shelves and are now being offered on eBay (EBAY) for up to $1,000, with "buy it now" listings also appearing early Thursday at the $34.99, $108 and $149 levels .99, among others.

"The hottest It-bag designer of the season? His name is Trader Joe," touts one eBay seller. "Get this," says another.

But if you're considering riding the trend with the idea that these bags could be worth even more money in the future, be warned: Trader Joe's says the bags are coming back, which means they might not be as rare and precious as some. I might think right now.

"We have more Trader Joe's mini canvas totes on the way," said Trader Joe's spokeswoman Nakia Rohde. "Customers can expect to see them in our stores in late summer."

On top of that, collectibles experts question whether the bags are worth much in the long run, despite the current imbalance between supply and demand.

There's a big difference between more established collectible categories, from art and antiques to baseball cards and comics, and items that emerge as collectibles seemingly overnight, experts explain.

True collectibles are usually items made with some care and craftsmanship, such as certain brands of luxury watches. Or they have genuine weirdness.

That 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie card in pristine condition that sold for $12.6 million? Their value arises from the fact that Mantle was not only one of the most iconic baseball players of all time, but also because very few cards can be found in a nearly intact condition.

But with Trader Joe's bags, we're talking about a standard product, and one that the company can stock more of at any given time.

In other words, don't expect container sales prices to stay high for long, experts warn.

"There's no chance in three years that I'm going to punish myself for not taking advantage of this," said Stephen Fishler, CEO of ComicConnect, a prominent online marketplace for vintage comics and other collectibles.

Mini bags became a sensation, especially through social media, much like other items that have seen sudden spikes in demand lately. People started talking about them online as something cute and must-have and also talked about their sudden scarcity.

It also doesn't hurt that Trader Joe's has such a loyal following, to the point that some refer to the chain's fans as a cult of sorts.

If we add it up, people saw a simple canvas bag as a must-have. This is the FOMO phenomenon, or fear of missing out. So says Rob Petrozzo, co-founder and chief product officer of Rally, a platform for buying shares of collectibles.

And when it comes to FOMO articles, "that's usually a telltale sign of a short-term fad," Petrozzo said.

-Charles Passy

This content was created by MarketWatch, operated by Dow Jones & Co. MarketWatch is published independently of Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal.

 

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03-16-24 1547ET

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