The Water for Elephants novelist wanted to resell a huge purchase of the must-have toy but cannot do so, leaving frustrated buyers furious
Never cross parents of young children on the hunt for the Christmas must-have toy. It is a rule novelist Sara Gruen failed to heed when she snapped up $23,000 (18,000) worth of this years answer to Cabbage Patch Dolls and Furbies to resell. Now her pursuit of a fast profit could ruin her financially, as well as destroy her reputation among irate parents.
The Water for Elephants author has been accused of being a Grinch stealing Christmas after she spent $23,595.31 on eBay for 156 Hatchimals toys with a view to selling them on at a profit. The auction website restricts sales of toys likely to pull in counterfeiters.
Money raised by auctioning the Christmas must-have was intended to fund the defence of an innocent man whod run out of options while serving life without parole, Gruen said. She told the Philly Voice she had run up debts of $150,000 fighting for the unnamed man.
Gruen used her credit card to purchase the Hatchimals, which are lying in boxes around her house as she tries to shift them and avoid losing all her money. It felt like I got hit with a freight train, she said about the moment she realised she could not resell the toys on eBay. I waited until the next morning to tell my husband that Id completely ruined us. He should have murdered me. I ran up the credit cards for this. But he feels sorry for me. He feels bad that I feel bad. I married a saint.
Hatchimals are furry creatures that emerge from an egg and grow before your eyes. They have become the top-selling toy in the UK, Canada and the US, after supplies from manufacturer Spin Master ran out. Such is the frenzy for them that Gruen expected to turn a profit, despite paying almost three times their retail price.
I figured I could still sell them at a profit and put a dent in the extremely hefty lawyer fees Im accruing in my fight to get the wrongfully convicted mans case back before the supreme court, she wrote in a post on Facebook.
Her readers reacted angrily to the news, accusing her of exploiting children in order to make money. Its awful a person like her buys all these and then gets stuck with them while trying to make extra money off the parents, wrote one irate parent. Its sad that a lot of kids will be very upset this Christmas because of greedy people like you. Another wrote on her Facebook page: Youre reselling for $189 each. If anything less, you should be ashamed of yourself.
Guen rejected accusations that she had cynically destroyed the Christmases of small children across America. I did not, contrary to popular opinion, scoop them off shelves to prevent kids from getting them. The day after Black Friday, I decided they were really cool and probably going to be popular and so I bought the ones I got on eBay. ALL of them. She added: If you want to blame me [for] the death of Christmas, be my guest.
Not all her readers reacted with scorn. Some have offered support and encouraged her to sell them through her own online outlet The Gruen Zoo, where she is now offering Hatchimal purchasers a signed copy of one of her books.