Is It Time For Retailers To Limit Quantities During Sales?

In case you didn’t know already the Myer 2015 Toy Sale has kicked off today. It looks like a pretty decent sale, with 20% off all LEGO and a few items with a slightly better percentage discount. The flagship sets are the new Detective’s Office modular building, and the Myer exclusive UCS Slave I. The Myer sale officially runs from June 10th to July 12th 2015, though if you were planning on picking up one of those flagship sets you may already be out of luck. Stock is disappearing fast, and it’s a phenomenon not exclusive to the Myer sale.

Recently LEGO has been more popular than ever. This may still be an after effect from the LEGO Movie, or may just be a general increase in popularity. Regardless of the source – the increased popularity means that there are more people out in the shops looking to save money on LEGO.

“What’s the problem?” you may be thinking. Surely a large company like LEGO can easily meet demand for their products. They’re one of (if not the) largest toy companies in the world. Unfortunately the delicate balance between supply and demand is easily messed with.

Myer Slave I Superfan Cropped

We don’t know the person in the picture above, we spotted it on the Whirlpool forums and are posting it with the permission of the person who took it. What it shows is a man who is loading a trolley with at least 5 of the 75060 UCS Slave I sets. If you are bringing a Coles trolley to Myer, you’ve clearly got intentions on filling it. Of course it might be possible that the man has a legitimate reason for buying 5 of the one set. What we do know is that scenes like this are happening whenever there is a decent LEGO sale on. Here is a comment from Mark on a recent Big W sale;

I tried to get these this morning at Big W Eastland @ 8.45 AM but apparently one person bought all the stock (all 22 of them) when they opened at 8.30 AM.

From the retailers perspective it doesn’t really matter who buys their stock, and there is certainly nothing illegal about buying all of a particular item on sale. This really is an issue of what seems fair. Retailers can make things fairer for LEGO fans young and old by placing limits on how many of a particular sale item can be purchased. Some tricky scalpers will probably find a way to get around the limits, but it may just mean that a few extra kids get that LEGO set they really want under the Christmas tree.

Do you think retailers should apply quantity limits to sale items?

57 Responses to Is It Time For Retailers To Limit Quantities During Sales?

  1. Harley says:

    I met a Lego Sales Rep at Hornsby and she was said they had a limit of 3 exclusive sets per customer. Clearly not all stores adhere to that.
    Regardless she said her area (North Shore I presume(?)) should be receiving more in a week or two.

  2. Glen says:

    Big W is the worst, When they had that drop zone sale a few months back I asked one of their staff members if they had any of the 60052 Cargo Train left. He looked at me and said “sorry I just sold 10 of them to a customer 15minutes ago.” #bestserviceever

  3. Clicker says:

    This happens all the time and is extremely frustrating and unfair, this morning at Myer I grabbed the last Palace Theatre at 9:30, they sold 50 in the first half hour and they have a 3 limit now. These unfair people later re-sell on ebay/gumtree. This is NOT good for the retailer as less people buying means less overall business – the guy buying is only buying because of the sale, where’s more customers means more business in the long run.

    Get this, I saw one guy purchase full trolley of expensive modulars on myer online day before sale, and then came in to return and repurchase them all at discount price. Are you kidding me?

  4. Ryan says:

    I agree limits are a good idea

  5. Marcus says:

    Just got detectives office from Myer in Brisbane cbd. Two more left.

  6. malcolm says:

    I think the general consensus is 3 max. I even think 3 can be too many. As a collector 2 is more then sufficient, one to keep and one to build. At Myer Perth today I watched a lady buy 5 off every modular they had and 5 slave 1′s. Even if the retailer does enforce it, there is nothing stopping them leaving the store and coming back or sending another person in. Maybe instead have a limit of one that way if someone wants more its really inconvenient to buy multiples. I know I can’t be the only one sick of seeing people with 5 or more of one exclusive set then to see the same sets on gumtree the next day during the sale for more then the original rrp. It creates a artificial price in the market and starts to make a lot of sets just out of reach for a lot of people that otherwise would have genuinely been able to buy them at rrp. I wish I had more money and could buy more sets to sell at the sale or rrp prices to genuine buyers just to screw over the profiteering resellers.

  7. Phil says:

    Agreed. Went in today for a Slave 1 or Detectives office. The cashier said that they had a whole cage delivered especially and they all went to 2 people 5 mins after opening.

  8. Tim says:

    Just back from Myer Marion in Adelaide, 4 Detectives Office, 3 Camper Van left, Palace Theatre sold out.

  9. Mark says:

    Thanks for posting on this subject Michael, your blog is an important one in the Australian Lego community. That picture above just makes me angry. I read a post on another forum a while ago (I can’t remember which one) that classified Lego investors into 3 categories 1) flippers – people who buy large quantities at discounted prices and try to sell immediately at above the rrp and artificially inflate the value of high demand sets (as pointed out by someone else above), 2) investors who buy small-moderate quantities speculating that the value will increase once the set retires, and 3) collectors who buy small quantities, usually an extra of a set they already own, speculating that its value will increase over time. In some ways flippers are the equivalent of short sellers; they don’t give a crap about Lego, are greedy, and are generally despised by the Lego buying community. I’m sure some of your readers fall into this category. There is no point trying to shame them though because that would be based on the assumption they had a social conscience. I have no issue with collectors who buy an extra set or two, as they generally love Lego and they are not the ones emptying the shelves and online stock. At the end of the day I enjoy Lego with my kids but also as an AFOL. My fear is that the more the market becomes saturated by resellers it will create a bubble, turning people away from buying it. In the long term this is not good for The Lego group, it’s not good for retailers and, most of all, it’s not good for genuine fans of Lego. Retailers need to realise this and put strict personal shopping limits in place if they want the Lego cash cow to keep them afloat. I realise people will find ways to circumvent it but at least it should disrupt the practice.

    • Mick Fett says:

      Mark the best thing Lego could do to counter flippers is to revisit the Australian RRP – it’s seriously inflated to the point where I will only buy from Aussie retailers at sale prices. The standard AUS RRP gives the flippers a nice enough margin to profiteer from when there’s a sale on – take that away and see what a happens to them…

  10. Clicker says:

    Again, I have absolutely no tolerance or respect for the flippers. If you want to resell Lego, then go get a wholesale account and open a store, instead of defrauding the few chance lego lovers have to get hard to find and larger sets at decent prices.

  11. Jules says:

    I’ve got no issue with a sale limit, it makes sense especially when demand is obviously so much more than supply. I imagine Myer gets a lot of flack for their handling of these sales so I would think a limit would be inevitable eventually.

  12. Danny says:

    No one has mentioned about the AFOLs or Lego clubs that buy multiple sets for massive displays. These displays need hundreds if not thousands of unique pieces.

    Last year I did buy quite a few different train sets. Some while on sale and some at recommend retail price but that’s because I’m putting together a room size Lego train display. Lots of tracks and sliding’s and multiple trains going at once.

    In regards to the guy in the picture, set 75060 has 9 new pieces (not including minifigures) that are new or a new colour. He also may be buying them to break down and sell individual parts. I chose to buy full sets with extra parts rather than individual pieces.

    • Michael says:

      You make an interesting point that most people may not have considered. Having said that, don’t officially recognised LEGO User Groups have access to buying options not available to the general consumer (specifically for parts)?

  13. Jonathan Wilson says:

    I see catalogs from Woolies and stuff with “limit x per customer” on sale items (or similar wording like “we reserve the right to restrict sales to normal retail quantities”). There is NO reason MYER, Big W etc etc can’t set the same rules on LEGO if they wanted to.

    In regards to the image of MYER with multiple sets, best thing to do is to spread it on Facebook and other social media and to contact head office (and include details of where and when the sale took place). MYER is supposed to have a “limit of 3 sets” policy on the big stuff and calling out when MYER staff don’t follow the rules will help get MYER to ensure the policy is enforced by all staff.

  14. James says:

    A little about my Lego position, I am a AFOL and have been out of my dark age for around 2 years. I have a lot of Lego for resale both brand new in box and used sets, I also happen to have a Lego collection that is twice the value of the resale stock. (Brickset and Brickpicker tell me the combined value exceeds $100,000).

    Most of my Lego profit goes towards long retired set purchases, havent had any issues with picking up current sets at RRP or better.

    I dont see any issues with the fact I am in a position to buy extra sets for resale to offset the Lego cost, but I also would have no issues with sales limits on items.

    People will find markets suitable for them to invest in where they exist, the Lego reseller may one day be a property flipper and I am sure there is a forum somewhere saying the average Joe is being priced out of that market also.

    I am invested in Lego for a profit and for the enjoyment it brings.

    If no laws are being broken you will have to play with the playing field given.

    Why is this considered such a kick in the pants for the average Joe to do at Myer, when we have retail stores that sell new Lego and also retired sets at inflated prices? (Surely that doesnt sit well?)

    • Michael says:

      I appreciate you offering an alternate perspective on the subject.

      I think the thing that puts a lot of people off is that stores like Myer are retailers, not wholesalers. They should be where individuals go to buy LEGO. If people are using the retailers to buy commercial quantities of the product, it forces people to then buy from a reseller. If that reseller isn’t registered as a business then there are certainly more risks involved in that. LEGO is quite generous with their replacement parts program, but if that changes and they start demanding proof of purchase, then buying from a reseller could be a problem.

      Nobody is saying that resellers are playing outside of the rules – the question is whether or not those rules should be changed.

    • Aaron says:

      I hate you and everything you stand for. You are literally going out of your way to take opportunities from other enthusiasts in order to fund your lifestyle. If a train ran you over today I would shed no tears.

    • Dave says:

      You have $100k of Lego? And you want me to feel sorry for you?

      Go become an official Lego reseller if that’s what you want to do.

      My missus went to 4 Myer stores yesterday to try get a DO for me and at all the story was SCALPERS like you buying out all the stock.

      You are scum mate.

    • David Stephen says:

      So dumb. Your purchase of extra sets (to offset the cost of retired buildings) is the very thing increasing the price of the retired sets. Cause and effect.

  15. Michael says:

    Quick reminder: Let’s try and keep the comments as polite as possible. I know people have strong opinions on this subject.

  16. T says:

    if your selling lego in the range of with 100k worth or there about. Then you should be declaring tax and have an abn. Are you? your are breaking the law if your not declaring this income which clearing is not from a hobby perceptive anymore but a business.

    • Dave says:

      Income? I made up a Lego reselling business and declare all my purchases as costs to my sole trader business – less income I get taxed on!

  17. Monty says:

    I have no problem with people buying a couple of extra sets to offset the cost of buying retired Lego. Have honestly considered buying one or two extras myself for that purpose. The retired Lego scene if very expensive – however happily there are only two I would like – both now very expensive – and way more than 100% on original cost. Hence will end up brickowling, bricklinking or pick a bricking those two items – over a long time.

    However, I completely concur with Michael. Retail stores should be for individuals to buy Lego and anyone who wants to buy in a larger quantity than 3 per item, should have to get a wholesale licence. At Christmas, when Myer had the second toy for half price, many people were in store (Mum’s and Dad’s) buying two of the Cinema Place, the Town Hall and Parisian Restaurant, according to the salesperson – one for themselves and one to sell (ensuring the greater discount). Or even if you are like me, two to MOC the set. I have no issue with this.

    However, buying in a greater quantity than three – without a wholeseller licence is distinctly unfair. Of course it is a capital system in which we live, of course anyone is entitled to take advantage of the market – but whether it is legal or not, is not wholly relevant – the question is, whether it is right.

    When people really want an item, purchasing so many is completely unfair. It took me ages to get the campervan (eventually, I just bought it straight from Lego) – because it is so hard to get during the sale and I didn’t want to pay the retired Lego set price.

    However, the Detective Office is back in for Myer online – so I just tried an experiment – and the online maximum purchase is three (don’t worry I emptied my bag – the local Myer toys section knows me really well, and put one on hold for me !).

    So I think, with an online purchase with a maximum of three I think the policy should be carried to in store, (yes I am sure there are ways around that), but it may just help limit the frenzy so that others might have an opportunity.

    • David Stephen says:

      I sympathise in regard to the cost of retired sets but as I said that is exactly the behaviour which leads to wildly inflated prices. A far better option is to buy retired sets from an unofficial source, like Lepin. Personally I would prefer to purchase the real thing but buying knock off sets is not as bad as it at first seems. Most flippers make their money on the retired sets like Cafe Corner, which scumbags on eBay will ask crazy prices up to £700. You can get the Lepin version for £50. This hardly effects Lego as the people buying the Lepin set can’t buy the Lego set as it is retired. The only people who loose out are the wastes of flesh who have bought extra sets. This is the only way to stop people profiteering. Your position is morally indefensible. There is no difference doing it with Lego than anything else. Would you get up early to buy all the milk at a shop then stand outside selling it to families at double the price?

    • David Stephen says:

      Purchase of more than one set to USE, for Mocs or the like is acceptable. That is not really the issue we are discussing though.

  18. Mark says:

    Danny and James, I appreciate you offering alternate views at risk of being flamed. It’s good to have a constructive debate. Danny, you make an interesting point about people who are members of Lego groups and/or build large MOCs, particularly for public display as this brings joy to many. Parting kits out and selling via the likes of Bricklink has also provided a large and diverse source of specific pieces for MOCs, a healthy part of the Lego community in my opinion. However, judging by the large number of sealed Slave 1′s now for sale on EBay and Gumtree, with an average asking price ~ $350, I think the intention of a lot of people filling trolleys with these sets is pretty clear. James, if you have accrued 100k worth of Lego in two years then I am envious of your means and space! I have a large collection of Lego but do not put a dollar value on it, that’s not where the ‘value’ lies with me. I do hope that one day though it is a sellable asset for my kids…at least that’s how I justify it to my significant other : ) I suspect that reasonable quantities will become more enforced by local retailers. Lego recognised this as a problem years ago which is why Lego S@H place limits on sets, sometimes in quantities of 1 for highly desirable ones. As many enthusiasts on the site would know Lego is a contraction of the Danish term Leg godt, meaning “play well”. I think this ethos is lost on those who only see Lego as a profitable commodity.

  19. Glen says:

    In saying all this, While I (like many others) can be frustrated that those with ill intentions may horde all the stock of the desirable sets. The way to discourage their behaviour is to not buy from Ebay or Gumtree of sets that can EASILY be bought from Lego Shop au themselves, wait for more stock to come in, wait for them to return the 14 sets they could not sell in the time period and so on.

    Unlike most of you I bought DO and Slave 1 back in January to avoid the very situation we all face now. Happy to spend an extra $80 to avoid conflict, crowds and disappointment + peace of mind that I secured the sets, I have done so with the similar Ferris Wheel as I simply do not want to miss out on the epic and awesome sets Lego produce and wish to avoid scalpers.

    For reference I should say I am a full time uni student who works part time ($500 a week) and does not go out as I spend most of my expendable income on LEGO (the rest saving for a house, though I guess LEGO diversifies my investments ;) ). So I understand that for other people who may be in less of a financial position to do so, a sale opportunity is the only time to enjoy the luxury of a nice big LEGO set.

    TL:DR LEGO SHOP AU to avoid Scalpers or inflated costs, end of the day Scalpers and anyone who buys more than 2-4 sets really doesn’t have a leg to stand on. (If you want for MOCs or Lego groups there are cheaper and better means to get the parts you want).

  20. Tom says:

    I’ve been disappointed too many times by “fliipers” clearing out a stores stock moments before I arrived that I’m not even going to bother going to see what Myers has (left).

    If you can buy Lego and not open the boxes, you’re not a true Lego fan and have stronger will power than me. Every set I got to “put away” because it will be worth more one day has since been opened and built :-)

  21. Art says:

    Maybe the easiest is to simply allow customers to still put orders through and pick up another time later while giving time for Myer to back order, provided that Lego is willing to support. I’ll be happy to wait as soon as I can get the lego sets at the discounted price. And this perhaps is also easier for Myer to make decisions on how many sets they need to order to meet the demand. Now, there are just so many mini cooper sets left on the shelf here in Myer Emporium.
    Downside about this is that life may be much harder for other small lego retailers. It also doesn’t address the issue in cases of “Clearance” like those in Big W which I believe is a different issue. And for those who invest in lego, this may also have -ve impact on their return when the current local demand is met. For those who enter the “investment” market with a wrong perception of earning good money under this illusion of flippers-created demand, your risk is always controlled by Lego and other flippers~ I believe no one would mind even if there’re people buying cages of big lego sets as soon as we are still able to get one for ourselves. :)
    Let toy be toy.

  22. James says:

    I find it hard to stomach that people cant appreciate a different point of view/action, or only read enough to suit how narrow minded they are.

    What Aaron had to say is completely out of line, just being a enthusiast doesn’t give you all the rights. (If it does I also have the rights)

    And I didn’t ask anyone to fell sorry for me thanks Dave! You comments are scum.

    Both very narrow minded views of the world. (And potentially lovely people for all I know)

    T, I didn’t say I had sold 100K of Lego, I have actually sold less than 10K worth of Lego in the past 2 years, I am well within the law and understand what I must pay taxes for. Lol if it was business I would be going backwards really fast.

    I really do like Monty’s point of view, I am not the guy buying 10 sets (but I am not mad at the 10 set guy, good luck to him), I usually buy a set for my collection and usually 1 more for resale, if they end up resold or not who knows.

    Mark, I enjoy my Lego hobby, and if I can actively fund it with Lego I think that’s great, most of my sales are used sets from large lots so I can add some to my collection and flip the remaining. (I only gave a value to quantify my position, its seems to have enraged a few people).

    Just like Glen if I really like an upcoming set I will buy it direct from Lego, and others I will buy on sale and then a lot I have no plans to buy at all. (I haven’t actually purchased a Lego set for 3 months, have been working on the Lego I have)

    Tom, the will power not to open something isn’t my measure for being a fan, I really love to collect Lego and I add a very small percentage of the newest Lego to my collection.

    I really enjoy finding parts of old sets and bringing them back to life, the latest project is a 4558 Metroliner I found a bunch of the parts in a bulk lot … I am also in the process of bricklinking a Green Grocer. (This is certainly where most of my funds go #retired #expensive)

    And my Lego collection is far from self funding.

    So I am a Lego fan, using the actual Lego to help support it.

    • glen says:

      Think everyone needs to see just how balanced this opinion is. James you have the most appropriate mind set here (I wish I could afford 1 boxed, 1 to build). While I am sorry some are using personal attacks rather than looking at the big picture I think we all at the end of the day want a better system in place.

      This system needs to either a. increase its supply to exceed demand (thus negating the flippers because any average joe can go in and buy one or b. staff need to nationally enforce a policy of limited quantities (the retailer I work for does this on new released stock to prevent this very thing).

      I guess one more thing I’d have to say is the Detectives Office and Slave 1 offer insane value for RRP anyways the sale is just a bonus. While we may get caught up in the fact that we are saving money at the end of the day the product is still available for purchase.

      James I wish the best and perhaps once I finish uni I too can start bricklinking the old modulars I missed (just CC and GC).

    • Ben says:

      I also would love to see unit limits placed on sales stuff. Nothing more annoying then going into a store after work and finding out all the collector type sets are already sold out/only damaged goods left.

      That being said I see no problem with small scale reselling, where some people buy a few sets (maybe max 3-5 of a set) to tuck away hoping it’ll go up after retirement. What bothers me are the guys who wipe out stores, I remember the drop zone stuff here in the Hills area of NSW was all sold out by midday. Some guy bought 15 cargo trains from one of the stores which is utterly ridiculous, it just doesn’t deprive collector’s but also those parents who might be getting them for their kids.

      Imo, if you’re going to drop that kind of money into LEGO u may as well open an actual store and contract with LEGO themselves instead of messing up retailer sales. Then again I highly doubt anyone who engages in massive reselling is really an AFOL in the first place, they’re likely just sharks who view it as a business and nothing more. Hence why we should have unit limits like most US retailers do to curtail this nonsense.

      Like James up there who is attracting a ton of hate, I’m an AFOL who has invested quite a lot into my collection and thanks to LEGO’s mostly appreciating value it’s worth close to 150k usd. If the market was this aggressive back when I came out my dark age 7 years ago I’d have significantly less then I do now simply because early 20s me didn’t have the kind of money to buy everything at RRP. The sales was a good way to stretch my dollars as I’m sure many others do too.

      TL;DR: We really do need unit limits, either enforced by the retailers or by LEGO onto the retailers as part of their sales contracts.

    • David Stephen says:

      You just don’t get it do you? Your resell of a set at above rrp is morally bankrupt. You are making another person pay extra because you picked up the box first. There is no point in going over it again you clearly know but don’t care. This displays a startling lack of empathy for your fellow humans. So you are a Lego fan using actual Lego to screw over other Lego fans. That is how your last sentence should read.

  23. Mark says:

    James, they are all valid points you make and well argued.

  24. Phil says:

    I don’t think equating it to property flipping is a fair comparison. To flip a property you have to spot a opportunity others have not and compete on price to obtain it. What is happening here is much closer to ticket scalping.

  25. Art says:

    Btw, for those who missed out Big W clearance, I just found they have 2 of the sets back on shelf here in Melbourne. You may wanna try your luck in your local stores

  26. Art says:

    Yes, Still discounted. There are like 7 agent one and close to 15 Battle on Saleucami. Just no phantom.

  27. Mark says:

    Thanks Art, I tried my local Big W on the way home from work but no such luck. The staff were unloading a fresh cage, maybe I should have asked them!

  28. Strange says:

    I feel so sad now I want to end it all. Goodbye world, I’ll be in Legoland.

    On another note, you might be interested in this:

    Stated $239 introductory price before 12 July 2015. I wonder will they refund those who paid $299 a day before the sale online.

    To those who intend to profit from others, I hope they can handle it well when their time comes when others decide to profit from them; it always return when they are least able to handle the game they play on others… It is always easier said than done…

  29. Leslie says:

    kinda random comment passing by?
    Anyone also from Adelaide and usually shop in the CBD Myer ?
    Have you guys seen any DO / Cinema / Slave 1 in store…
    or have you ask if they will get more before the sale session finish ??
    Thanks , hope it’s not too much questions being asked :P

    I think I will also go and have a look tomorrow or saturday, hope I could find a Slave 1 … and a cinema…

  30. Dave says:

    Just remember that there would be no market for the scalpers if everyone had enough self-respect not to buy “new” sets from faceless hustlers on eBay/Gumtree. If it’s sold out at Myer, I’d buy it at Lego’s online store before keeping one of these lowlives in “business”.

  31. Steve says:

    Checked Myer Emporium and David Jones today at lunchtime – No Slave 1′s or detective offices at all.

  32. Bach says:

    For those in Sydney, I saw a full cage of DO at Myer City today.

  33. Leslie [Adelaide] says:

    Just talk to one of the staff in Myer
    He doesn’t seem to sure when the second drop will come in
    Nor he will let me to leave a contact …
    Let’s hope for the best haha

  34. Nate says:

    More DO up at Myer online. Creater VW Kombi is now ‘limited stock. There was more Slave 1′s up but its now sold out again. Palace Cinema is the only one that hasn’t changed since the sale started =(

  35. Mark says:

    Ghostbusters Ecto-1 is available again @ Myer online! click & collect is possible depending on store eg. Myer Melbourne Emporium.

  36. Leslie says:

    Did Myer just pull Slave 1 and Palace Cinema off the shelf :(

  37. Glen says:

    Myer emporium had more PC and DO today but sold out by tonight (I went twice). Saw heaps of bags with 2-3 behind counter. Side note they put out the new DC sets so I nabbed one of each to get sale price.

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