Bloomberg News is reporting that the USPS was stuck with a whopping 682 million Simpsons postage stamps that went unsold. Evidently the USPS grossly misjudged how much the American public wanted to buy Simpsons stamps, and printed up twice as many Simpsons stamps as they did Elvis Presley stamps.
USPS Simpsons stamps debacle
USPS made a billion stamps, but only 318 million sold.
Unfortunately they only sold 318 million Simpsons stamps out of the print run of a staggering 1 billion stamps, thus losing $1.2 million on the deal.
The Elvis Presley stamps were pitched as a collectible, and I know a lot of people who bought a lot of them. Of course, so many of them were printed that they will probably never be valuable. Now you come along with a print run of Simpsons stamps that is twice as large as the Elvis print run, and I guess it should not be a surprise that collectors did not buy them up in droves.
When it comes to something like the Simpsons, quixotically the less you make of something, the more people will want to buy it. The USPS went the opposite way with that rule, and look where it got them.
The Simpsons stamps were produced in 2009 and 2010, before the Forever Stamp went into effect. Thus, the stamps are marked with their 44 cent value. This means that they were only useful until postage rates increased. The USPS is defending itself by saying that now that everything is a Forever Stamp, this kind of thing shouldn't happen anymore. Since theoretically they can just keep selling the stamps until they are all gone, regardless of how long it takes.
The larger problem, of course, is that the USPS is circling the drain. They posted a loss of $5.2 billion in the third quarter, and will likely post losses for the year of $15 billion. And as many people point out, if they do such a bad job of judging the market's interest in Simpsons stamps, what else are they screwing up on a colossal scale?
Sadly, Simpsons memorabilia as a whole is pretty much worthless. With few exceptions, most Simpsons collectibles are anything but. The proliferation of Simpsons items - from postage stamps to bed sheets - and the overwhelming volume of Simpsons stuff virtually guarantees that it will not appreciate over the years. Fox's backwards approach to merchandising is an excellent example of killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Which is a pity, really, because some of it - like the Simpsons action figures - were pretty great in and of themselves.