Being a columnist means sometimes I can write from personal experience, even the kind that makes me look like an idiot. This is one of those times.

I was suddenly motivated to get rid of a hulking Ikea dresser that I bought 11 years ago in anticipation of the birth of my first child. This white eight-drawer beast, called the Hemnes, had been a hot seller for years. If you were an expecting parent with an inoffensive design sensibility and happened to be on Pinterest in the 2010s, you probably considered purchasing this dresser for your nursery. Not only did it boast endless organizational possibilities but it doubled as a changing table.

But when I could no longer justify its massive footprint in my home, I decided to sell it on Facebook Marketplace. Scanning the site, I noticed others selling their used Hemnes dressers for about $50 to $100. I decided to price mine to move fast and (cue stupid) listed it for $40.

My phone pinged immediately. The first of many messages came from a guy named Jay. His profile indicated that his side hustle was buying and selling items online. He promised that he could be at my house that day to pick it up.

This wasn't what I envisioned. I naively assumed our dresser would go to someone in need of affordable furniture, maybe a family with a baby on the way. But I also wanted it out of my house, and Jay received five-star reviews. Warily, I sent him my address and warned him that he'd need a second person to help load the dresser into his vehicle.

When he arrived on my driveway later that night in a minivan, he indeed arrived with other people — his tween daughter and a toddler son, who remained strapped in his car seat. My heart softened. And it just about exploded when Jay gestured to his daughter and said how much she wanted this dresser.

The girl was the one who looked it over and handed me two crisp $20 bills. Grinning ear to ear, I watched my husband and Jay heave the beast into the back of the minivan. Our dresser is going to a nice kid who pinched her pennies to purchase her own bedroom furniture! I even went so far as to add another glowing review to Jay's profile.

The next day I returned to Facebook Marketplace and noticed Jay had posted a dresser for sale. My dresser. He listed it for $350. "Price is firm," he wrote, adding that it came already assembled.

I couldn't fathom how this was possible. How could a decade-old, cheaply made, used furniture item fetch close to its retail value? Did people despise the Allen wrench that much? This was also a dresser that gained notoriety for tipping over onto toddlers, and, in at least one case, killed a child. As I type, Ikea lists the dresser on its site for $400, but it's currently out of stock.

I tried to ask Jay these questions on Facebook, but he responded by removing himself from the chat. So I asked Dayton Steele, an assistant professor of supply chain and operations at the University of Minnesota.

Steele introduced me to the economics term of "conspicuous consumption," the purchasing of goods perceived to be exclusive, usually luxury brands. Because the dresser is no longer for sale on the Ikea site, buyers are willing to pony up more in the secondary market, he explained.

"You're not able to purchase it — that's what makes it special," Steele said, saying the same principle applies to everything from a rare early-edition Pokémon card to Taylor Swift tickets. The phenomenon also occurs with "product drops." That's when brands release limited quantities of a new sneaker, or say, a certain shade of Stanley tumbler, and everyone loses their minds.

To be clear, my dresser was not a Herman Miller Eames chair. Owning a Hemnes dresser is about as sexy as flaunting the keys to a Pontiac Bonneville. But Steele pointed out that the dresser is still desirable, and at least for now, unattainable. I've since unearthed Reddit threads filled with the desperation of buyers, many of them nesting moms-to-be, trying to get their hands on one.

And savvy buyers like Jay are likely scouring the markets for used goods and scooping up items that they know are worth far more than they're priced. "He's probably doing all the hustles," Steele said, likening him to an old high school buddy who'd snatch up Polo shirts for $5 apiece at Goodwill stores and resell them for $30. "He knows all the different products he's going to be able to sell that are considered exclusive."

That's fair. But why all the theatrics involving his daughter? That felt like an unnecessary betrayal.

Steele said one needs to understand the psychology in many e-commerce communities. Scalpers or flippers are generally frowned upon. In Buy Nothing groups, where folks unload free stuff to their neighbors in the spirit of community-building, no rule prevents the recipients from reselling the gifts. But they are asked to be upfront about their intentions.

That didn't stop one guy in a Minneapolis Buy Nothing group from pawning stuff under false pretenses. One member who gave him an area rug later discovered it for sale on Craigslist, along with a slew of other items the guy had claimed from the Buy Nothing group, said group admin Martha Garcés.

"In very few cases have I removed people from the group, but in the case of this man, I did remove him because he was deliberately misleading people, saying things like, 'This would look great in my living room,' and immediately turning around and selling the item," Garcés recalled.

When she called him out on it, he was rude and hostile, which just confirmed her decision to exile him. "The group is about community and connections and putting people first," she said. "It's not supposed to be about the stuff first."

Another Minneapolis Buy Nothing group administrator, Holly Deering, wasn't surprised when she heard about my story.

She gave away some new North Face jackets, still bearing their tags, to a woman in her group. A day or two later, Deering did a search on Facebook Marketplace.

"Sure enough, the woman who took them 'for her daughter' had them for sale," Deering recalled.

Garcés (who is married to a Star Tribune colleague) shared with me a tip for the next time I decide to sell or donate a used item: Giving it to the first person who responds is not expected in a Buy Nothing group, she said. Instead, let the item "simmer" for 24 hours before choosing with whom to do business. Ask people how they plan to use the item or let a random number generator decide who gets it.

Jay's ad for my dresser quickly disappeared after he listed it. I assumed that meant he found a buyer (and now, because I am a masochist and discovered how to search Marketplace items that have already sold, I continue to dig up ads of other secondhand Hemnes dressers that went for $350).

I'm learning to make peace with it. Everyone's got to make a living. Jay got a hell of a deal.

But I got a column.