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'Water for Elephants' author buys, resells 166 of Christmas' hottest toy with blowback

Asheville-based bestselling novelist Sara Gruen, author of "Water for Elephants," isn't taking critics of her decision to snap up 166 Hatchimals to heart. She's continued to post cheery Facebook posts despite the onslaught of critics who haven't taken too kindly to her decision to turn a profit on the ones she bought up. (WLOS)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) - Asheville-based bestselling novelist Sara Gruen, author of "Water for Elephants," isn't taking critics of her decision to snap up 166 Hatchimals to heart. She's continued to post cheery Facebook posts despite the onslaught of critics who haven't taken too kindly to her decision to turn a profit on the ones she bought up.

Gruen posted on Facebook she has no intentions of profiting off the sales, but rather is using any profit off the Hatchimals she sold on her Shopify website to offset legal bills for a project she's been working on.

"She knew it would be the hot-ticket item," said Brian Hickey, the phillyvoice.com reporter who is Facebook friends with Gruen and noticed her plan to sell the toys online.

"The day after Black Friday, she decided she was going to do some bidding on eBay to grab a bunch of them and then flip them to help fund this documentary she's working on," Hickey said.

The documentary is a project related to Gruen's work. She wrote on Facebook it's to get a wrongfully convicted man's case back before the Supreme Court.

But Gruen said she learned she could only hold three eBay auctions a week, which would mean she'd be stuck with the unhatched, unpurchased eggs well past Christmas.

She has since sold out of them on her website, where they sold for $189. Robin Sax, an attorney for Gruen, told News 13 the author was not available to talk on Friday.

"You can see the cost on the unit is $48," said John Taylor, who owns local toy store O.P. Taylor's. He was referencing his price to purchase the toys he began buying in August. He said the markup was small, but he soon saw what a hot toy it was when the Hatchimals quickly sold out.

"It's an egg and children take care of the egg. The better they take care of the egg, the faster it'll hatch," he said.

Taylor bought 96 of them and can't get any more until February.

"It's ridiculously cool for a $60 toy. I wouldn't say it's ridiculously cool at $189.99," Taylor said.

But that's what the toys have sold for, including on Gruen's Shopify store.

Mom Jessica MacCartee, who was shopping for toys with her two daughters, had no problem with what Gruen had done.

"I don't have a problem with it," said MacCartee. "Because there's buyers out there. And if there are buyers out there, there's an open market for it. I'm fine with it."

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