eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) may have revolutionized the garage sale by taking it global in the 1990s, but the popular marketplace keeps coming back home.

eBay is buying Where, the location-based ad network with one of the more popular smartphone apps for area listings and local coupons. 

This may seem like an odd acquisition for a company that prides itself on widening a merchant's reach outside of the local area code. However, a lot of its recent purchases have a decidedly local flavor.

eBay snapped up RedLaser -- the maker of a popular barcode scanning app -- last summer. A few months later it bought Milo, a localized shopping engine that scours area shops for the best prices.

Is this Craigslist envy creeping up again? Not exactly. eBay's minority stake in Craigslist makes it hard to covet what you already partially own. No, this is eBay simply making a shrewd acquisition of yet another app-savvy player with a thick Rolodex of area merchants.

Having a strong real-world presence will help eBay grow the reach of its PayPal financial transaction platform. Playing up to the locals will also come in handy when it completes its acquisition of GSI Commerce (Nasdaq: GSIC). GSI does many things, but one thing it does especially well is arm local start-ups with the tools to reach larger audiences in cyberspace.

Where's lifestyle slant will also come in handy. This doesn't mean that it's taking on OpenTable (Nasdaq: OPEN) for dining reservations or IAC's (Nasdaq: IACI) CitySearch for destination guides, but anything seems possible once you combine Milo, Where, RedLaser, and GSI into a one-stop shop for a local merchant. If you see where the interlocking puzzle pieces come together, it appears to be the blueprint to take on Groupon.

Other dot-com heavies are doing it all wrong. AOL (NYSE: AOL) thinks booting World of Warcraft gamers off of Wow.com to launch a social coupon site will do the trick. It won't. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) believes that allowing its industry-leading pool of online advertisers to reach out through offer-extension ads will fly. It will, but it ultimately lacks the social stickiness to make it virally relevant.

If eBay's going where I think it's heading -- and it's hard to go out on that kind of limb given the way that it has bobbled its namesake auction site in recent years -- it's going some Where good.  

What do you think of eBay's recent purchases? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Google is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Google and OpenTable are Motley Fool Rule Breakers selections. eBay is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. The Fool owns shares of Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a satisfied eBay user with 178 positive feedbacks to show for it. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also a member of the Rule Breakers analytical team, seeking out the next great growth stock early in its defiance. The Fool has a disclosure policy.