Monday, November 19, 2012

Hostess Twinkie Feeding Fenzy Results from Baker's Union Strike



The Hostess Company announced late Thursday evening, November 15, that it would be closing its doors. According to the Chicago Tribune, November 17 2012:

"The company said Friday it has asked a bankruptcy judge for permission to go out of business and lay off 18,500 workers, blaming a labor strike by members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers International Union."

This announcement caused a frenzy of Twinkie and Sno Ball lovers to flock to local stores and bakery outlets to stock up. Many were stocking up for inventory to sell on eBay and Amazon. According to FoxNews.com on November 17, "As of midday Friday, nearly 900 items for sale on eBay were Twinkie-related, including single-size snacks, unsealed boxes, and even lunchboxes, baseball cards, and magnets. One seller in North Carolina even set a price of $5,000 for a single Twinkie." Below is a screenshot of even more ridiculous offers on eBay as of Saturday, November 17:


According to different eCommerce Facebook groups, many sellers made substantial quick profit and were thrilled with the results. Chris Green, who runs the Facebook eCommerce group ScanPower, posted this screen shot of his own Hostess snack cake sales by late Friday evening. He was up to 26 sales by just after 6 PM. (Reprinted with permission.)


Once the news hit eCommerce groups that Twinkies, Sno Balls, and cupcakes were selling out so quickly, sellers hit the streets to stock up. Besides grocery stores and bakery outlets, sellers hit less obvious places like Walgreens, gas station convenience stores, and even hospital vending machines. (Now there's a captive audience - if you are going to eat a Twinkie the hospital is the best place to do it!)  Here are some photos contributed (reprinted with permission) by members of the various Facebook groups having these discussions. This seller posted her haul Friday night:


And this seller hit the streets early Saturday morning:



Many sellers reported lightening fast sales, high selling prices on both eBay and Amazon, and a very profitable weekend. By Sunday evening, eBay had over 21,000 listings with the keyword "Twinkie." Listings ranged from the actual snack cakes, boxes, advertising signs, store displays, domain names, and collector figures. One seller even listed his last box of twinkies in the category of Funeral and Cemetery.

Now the burning question: Will buyers experience buyer's remorse for paying inflated prices for Hostess products? Amazon's A-Z guarantee allows for unhappy buyers to file a claim within 60 days of their purchase. Most Amazon sellers see this regularly when buyers make incorrect assumptions about listings. In the grocery category, the item does not have to be returned. The buyer can simply contact Amazon regarding his complaint, and his money will be refunded. Will eBay buyers file "Item Received Not as Described" claims in an effort to recover some of the money spent after regretting their purchase? eBay buyers have 45 days to file such a claim.

Then there is the issue of feedback on eBay and Amazon. Will buyers regret getting caught up in this frenzy and punish sellers with negative feedback after the storm calms? Only time will tell. But many sellers decided to take the risk to make some quick holiday cash by jumping on the Hostess bandwagon. Hostess cakes may not be dead forever. It is entirely possible that another company will take over production and Twinkies will live on. However, if you are a Twinkie connoisseur, remember the saying, "The longer an item's shelf life, the shorter yours." Just sayin'......


Shortages of an item can increase an item's value on the secondary market including eBay and Amazon. Here are a few more examples of past shortages:

Today Sponge Shortage (2009)

Aveeno Eczema Cream Flip (2008)

Zhu Zhu Pets (2009)

Let's hear your Hostess stories. Leave a comment below if you participated in the Hostess Frenzy or had an interesting Hostess experience!

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