Kirk Rueter's Autograph for 100 Yen - Any Bidders?

Back to Contents of Issue: December 2002

by Bruce Rutledge

For those of you asking, "Who's Kirk Rueter," obviously October means little more to you than a month when the leaves turn. But for those of you who are ready to pay that JPY100 for a baseball card autographed by a pitcher who threw four shutout innings in game seven of the World Series (for the losing San Francisco Giants), then all you need to do is log on to iAuctioNet, Japan's latest online auction, and place your bid.

IAuctioNet is the brainchild of Sho Hara, formerly in charge of marketing and customer support at eBay Japan KK. Hara left eBay when it pulled out of Japan back in March, but he's been working on launching a smaller site ever since.

He told Nikkei BP that his experience with eBay -- especially the many, many phone calls to the US head office to sort out operational problems and system modifications -- taught him a valuable lesson: Let Yahoo have the lion's share of the online auction market in Japan and go after the otaku (fanatics) instead.

IAuctioNet is filled with oddities that some would find worthless or even absurd. But for everyone who scorns a plastic Godzilla, Canadian silver dollar or Mel Hall baseball card -- there is someone who has been searching for just that very thing to round out his or her collection, or at least that is what Hara is banking on.

So if rare movie posters, coins, baseball cards and magazines are your thing, check out Sho's new site. But beware: it's all in Japanese. So when you start looking through the katakana names for that Rueter card, remember his name is pronounced "Reeter." I'll be holding out for Troy Glaus myself.
-- Bruce Rutledge

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