Monday, September 22, 2008
To Dicker or Not to Dicker
You get all types at a garage sale. I'm telling you--all types! There are those who pay what you're asking-- sometimes even happily. Because seriously, I try to price everything cheap, cheap, cheap...I'm well aware it's a garage sale, and people rightly expect bargain. There are those who dicker on the price. I don't even mind this, if it's done nicely. ("What's the best you can do on your computer desk?") But others insist on haggling over every single price ("This sweater is marked $1--how about would you take a nickel?") or worse, insulting everything ("I could get this priceless Waterford crystal at the Dollar Store!") and then expecting me to accept their miserly offer.
This past weekend we had a garage sale, which is an exercise in exhaustion. It took days to set everything out on tables, organize and price the goods, and hang signs all over the city. We ended up with beautiful weather (no rain!) and a good, steady turn out. Definitely worth it.
Garage sales are a wonderful microcosm for studying human preconceptions too. One scruffy looking young man in ragged jeans, hair slicked back into a ponytail, tattoos on his arms, sauntered up the driveway. "He's not going to find anything here," I thought, noting we had no tools, biker parts, heavy metal CDs. But--shame on me for judging-- he ended up leaving with a pile of books--classics, too.
One man spent a lot of time looking over the clothes. He was a short, well-dressed Asian man. He came up with an armful of clothes--dress shirts, fleece jackets, khakis. 12 items. I had them marked at $2 each or 4 for $5. That is usually a good deal for nice quality, good name brand clothing. "I give you $3." He said, in broken English. "How about $10?" I said, trying to strike a deal.
"Three dollar," he insisted. "Refuge," he pointed to himself. "Refuge."
"Okay, fine," I sighed, accepting the bills. I have no way of knowing if he really was a refuge, or a wealthy businessman, but whatever. On his way down the driveway he picked up a new notebook. "Present?" he said, holding it up.
"Fine, take it," I said. I knew there was no point in arguing.
Now the garage sale is all cleaned up and packed away. The leftover clothes are all being donated to a church outreach. The books go to the library for their annual booksale. Neckties are being mailed to a high school in Africa. It takes a lot of work to get these items to different places that can use them. I don't mind. I love to donate to good causes. I just don't like feeling like I've been had.