Online Flea Markets

A California website called eBay wows Wall Street by wiring together a million obsessive collectors

For as long as she can remember, Candace Scott, 35, has suffered from a consuming addiction. Every spare cent goes to feed her habit, and her husband is hooked just as hard. O.K., so collecting items related to Ulysses S. Grant, the Civil War general turned President, is not as harmful as, say, crack cocaine. But it is now an obsession turbocharged by technology.

Scott does almost all her collecting these days on an auction site called eBay. A sort of digital swap meet, the service allows users to sell and bid for antiques and junk of all kinds--old milk bottles,...

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