Speakers from a Van

When I was at Imperial not so many years ago, there was a story in Felix, the college newspaper, about local ruffians selling knocked-off speakers from the backs of white vans in the South Ken area. At the time, students were advised not to approach them and to inform the police. I thought not much more of it, apart from it being a slightly bizarre way of fencing.

However, I recently read a story in Seth Godin’s book, All Marketers are Liars, which cast a new light on this. Apparently, something similar was happening in 80s Harvard: entrepreneurs would buy last year’s model of speaker (hence cheaply) and sell them to local students from the back of a van. Because the students assumed they were stolen, they could rationalise why they were cheap. The entrepreneurs made a tidy profit.

Is there something more to the Imperial story? Did the folks at Felix skimp on their research?


Well, thanks for clearing that up! Incidentally, the folks at Wikipedia don't seem to think that SK is necessarily a posh/rich area, probably because of the students: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Kensington
The ones at Imperial were really cheap speakers. They would play loud from the amp in the back of the van, but get them home and use them for a few weeks and they start sounding really cheap. Simply put, the guys sold them at one hell of a profit, as they convinced some buyers that they were expensive US model speakers, and the delivery went wrong so they had spares that needed selling quickly. I was also approached to buy a very nice video camera by a guy in a passing car. He claimed that the recipient changed their mind and he had to sell it anyway. He didn't name a price, but asked you to offer him a price - Clearly stolen... Who said South Kensington was a posh area? (Though maybe it is just a posh area with cheap locks on the front door!)