Selling off history

EBay is the ultimate marketplace for all things Mizzou
Thursday, July 31, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:42 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 16, 2008

You might think you have an extensive stash of MU merchandise. You’ve bought the T-shirts, caps, car decals, pennants, Christmas ornaments and even a Truman the Tiger bobblehead doll. But do you own MU bar stools? How about the set of hand-painted MU football players nesting dolls imported from Russia? If you shop on eBay you could.

From the mundane to the offbeat, MU items are bought and sold through the online auction house every day. After logging on to, simply typing “Mizzou” or “Missouri Tigers” will harvest hundreds of university-linked items.

Willie Payne of Blue Springs wasn’t a student at MU, but one of her daughters is, and another is a recent graduate.

“I’m not a frequent shopper, but I do look for certain items,” said Payne, who has been shopping on eBay for four years.

Payne enjoys the convenience of eBay since it’s easier than looking for specialty shops in the Kansas City area.

“I can also shop at midnight too, when the stores are closed,” she said.

Some of her most prized purchases include a brass touch lamp with paw prints on a yellow glass shade, and cheap MU sweatshirts.

She bought 144 beanie Tiger mascots because she thought they were too good a bargain to pass up at $2 each. She figured she would eventually find a use for them.

Marilyn Rousseau didn’t attend MU either, but her daughter did and she’s had black-and-gold fever ever since. After her daughter, Caryn, left the house, Rousseau and her husband transformed their daughter’s old bedroom into both a home office and a shrine to MU.

Rousseau’s “addiction to anything Mizzou” sent her on an eBay shopping spree. She’s bought pennants, curtains, a lamp, a stadium cushion, an alarm clock, a flag and large framed photos of the Columns and Jesse Hall.

Like Payne, Rousseau doesn’t live in Columbia and turned to the Internet because she can’t easily find MU merchandise where she lives in Chicago.

“The prices are cheaper,” Rousseau said.

Bragging about the $1 bargain she got on four MU pennants, she admitted the postage was almost three times what the item cost. With postage, she paid $3.95, but she said they were still cheaper than they would be in any store.

Pennants from the University Bookstore range from $6 to $19.

“I remember asking myself why I didn’t buy more,” Rousseau said.

Her collection also includes beanie Tiger mascots, a lunch tote, window clings, necklaces and a lapel pin. She’s even bought a child-size cheerleading uniform for a granddaughter that is yet to be born. In fact, her daughter isn’t planning on having children any time soon.

“Just thinking ahead; she doesn’t know I bought it yet,” Rousseau said of her daughter.

Rousseau most recently bid on a 500-piece MU jigsaw puzzle and won by outbidding her competition by 50 cents.

Rousseau’s most expensive MU purchase on eBay was a Mizzou lamp that cost almost $50.

Lani Peterson of Bellingham, Wash., sold a vintage MU pennant over eBay. She got four MU pennants along with several other university pennants through in-laws. They were originally part of a promotional set distributed by Hormel Food Corp. in the 1950s.

Diane Chang bought that pennant with the high bid of $7.50. Chang, a journalism student in Taiwan, has bought several MU and Columbia University items over eBay.

“I’m planning to study abroad in the U.S. after graduation,” Chang said.

Not everything on eBay is a bargain. Several items sold are one-of-a-kind or vintage, and many of the sellers have no connection at all with the school.

Jeremy Ellis, owner of Queen City Collectibles in Sedalia, sells some of his items on eBay. He recently sold an MU football schedule coin from 1979 for $8.50. Ellis acquires many of the items he sells at coin and stamp shows and sells them in both his store and on eBay.

Other eBay items fans won’t easily find at local stores include football schedule pint glasses from various seasons, a 1980s basketball jersey, an unopened Mizzou Brew beer can from the 1978 Tiger Bowl, a 1966 souvenir glass sugar bowl or Savitar yearbooks from the 1930s and ’40s.

Some items on eBay go unsold when no one meets the minimum bid or no one desires to own the strange items. There wasn’t a single willing bidder to fork over enough money for a set of hand-painted MU football player nesting dolls.

Payne has donated some of her 144 beanie Tiger mascots to silent auctions and used them to decorate wreaths and even a Christmas tree in her foyer.

“I put it in my entrance way and it is a great conversation piece,” Payne said.

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