That what Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker set to find out when they started "Significant Objects," a project that invited people to write stories about unimportant trinkets and knick-knacks found in thrift stores that they re-sold on eBay.
The auctions are upfront that the stories are fiction, but regardless, seemingly irrelevant novelties that are given a backstory are sold for much higher than one would expect. The 100 objects, purchased for $1.25 each on average, sold for nearly $8,000.00 in total.
"We went to thrift stores, yard sales and flea markets ... These are the things that nobody wanted; these are the lowest of the low," Glenn described. "We got a duck vase, a crumb sweeper, a brass apple, a bouncing bird thingy, a mermaid figurine that was broken and washed up on the beach. Some obscure kind of stirring or cooking implement that we don't really know what it does. A pool ball shaped cigarette lighter."
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.