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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hell in a Sell: Another Garage Sale story

Last week we had another one of our (in)famous garage sales-- and so many interesting things happened that we thought it deserved its own blog post.    There wasn't anything really abnormal about this particular garage sale-- or so we thought,  we only had bought one brand new unit in the week and although it was loaded with furniture, we only had about 1/2 of it out (the other half was still in the unit) and not much else in the way of new things.   I couldn't have been more wrong.

We had our sale on a Sunday-- we had gone to an auction Saturday (it's one of our most favorite auctions so to keep it that way we won't give you much information about it) -- and Brian and I were bickering so much over who got to go to auction that we just decided that we'd both get to go.  Fortunately, the Saints were playing at 3:15 on Sunday, so we thought it was a perfect time to have a morning garage sale, unpack the new unit, and get some work done all at once.

Brian arrived early (like 5:15 early) to set up, as we had neglected to do our normal pre-setup the evening before due to the auction and two trips of moving furniture out of the above mentioned unit, and by the time 7:00 had rolled around, he was already frantically calling me and telling me that he had a ton of customers. And boy were there people-- a constant on-flux of them, more so even than we would have on a Saturday.  And tons of crazy things kept happening!

The first insane thing that happened was that when I arrived at the sale, I realized that Brian was indeed not alone, but with a tenant (who's goods we had purchased at the end of the September) who had showed up to our sale.  I wasn't completely surprised because she had called me earlier in the week, but we hadn't made a concrete agreement yet with her so I wasn't really expecting her.  I have to admit, I'm always SUPER NERVOUS when a former tenant comes into play-- because you never know what's going to happen.  Many are irate, many make threats, many have very poor reasoning skills.  We never want to be in the position where we have to encounter a former tenant, and if we agree to under very special circumstances we're usually very careful to do it in a public, neutral place.  So the fact that this person showed up at the place where we store all of our things and do a lot of work scared me just a tiny bit.   I have to admit though (not just because I know she reads our blog)  that she is a very lovely and considerate person (she asked Brian what drinks we wanted and brought the appropriate coke and coffee) and I'm extraordinarily happy she showed up.  Not only was she able to reclaim a great many of her things (we had almost half of them left), but we were able to make someone happy and to provide goods to someone who really appreciated them.  Another happy ending.  I have to say, I think some fate was involved in this-- because as you know, we usually move items within 1-2 weeks of getting them.  The fact that we still had items from a late September sale in mid October was nothing short of a miracle.  Honestly, it's because we missed a week or two of sales due to my Wheel of Fortune debut and parties.   Isn't THAT fortunate for all involved.  I'm really glad we got to meet her, and we look forward to seeing her at our future sales for sure!   What a charming and intelligent woman.

One more thing about the above mentioned lady and then I'll shut up on the topic.  I'm really happy that we met her and I'm really happy that she found us--  as Michael Scott would say (we're big Office fans)  it was a "win win win" for all involved.  HOWEVER--  I've recently heard from more than a couple of parties (including the tenant herself) that the person who gave her our information was another BIDDER.  I am MORTIFIED by this. I would NEVER give a tenant another bidder's information, no matter how much I didn't like them.  It's just totally unprofessional.  If I didn't want to get involved, I'd stay out of it, and if I did, the most I would do would be to offer to pass the tenant's information along to the bidder.  I know Brian feels the same way.   It is totally reprehensible that a fellow bidder would do this.  I know the tenant turned out to be a really really cool gal, but what if she hadn't been?   The funniest part, is that this is the person who complained a few weeks ago about our blog, which resulted in everyone at certain auctions not being allowed to use cell phones (which really only hurts everyone, not just us).   Since he clearly reads this blog, I double dog dare him to mention THIS little post-- because I will totally tell God and everyone about what he did-- and NAME him this time!

We're not bitter, we're not resentful-- we don't hate or dislike anyone we bid against.  We don't mean to trash-talk or seem rude or disrespectful or whatever.  We really don't mean to start conflict.  We prefer to avoid conflict-- because it distracts us from our main goals-- making money and succeeding in this business.  We understand that our competition is going to talk about us behind our back and rat us out when they get a chance or lie to our faces--  we're okay with that.  But do NOT tell tenants where to find us.

Anyway-- back to the sale (yes, I digressed)...    the next crazy thing that happened was this MESS of a woman shows up wearing a dirty stained t-shirt and dirty stained sweat pants, and I don't think much of it because that describes 25% of our morning garage sale clientele, but as she starts asking me questions she's arguing with me about prices so much that I want to strangle her.   We'll call her "Sweaty" Our conversation goes a little like this:

Sweaty:  How much is this?
Me:  It's $3.00
Sweaty:  That's too much!
Me:  Sorry.
Sweaty:  Will you take $2.00?
Me: Sure.
Sweaty:  Will you take $1.00?
Me:  No.  $2.00.
Sweaty:  It's not worth $2.00.
Me: Then don't buy it
Sweaty:  (continues admiring it... it's one of those elaborate iron decorations you hang on your wall that has leaves and holds candles and things.  It's a very elaborate one, would probably go for $25 at Bed Bath and Beyond.   I've seen them sold at thrift stores for up to $12).  Hmph.
Me:  Sorry.
Sweaty:  I don't have $2.00.
Me:  Then why'd you ask me if I'd take $2.00?  Now you're just wasting my time!
Sweaty:  $1.00
Me:  FINE.
Sweaty:  I have to go to my van to get it.
Me:  (pulling a Brian)... SERIOUSLY?!?!?

Sweaty walks, no, waddles, off to her van, which I must point out is a CAB.  Yes, she is a CAB DRIVER, not that there is anything wrong with that- but that I don't really believe that a cab driver has LESS than $2 in her CAB...  and returns....

Sweaty:  HERE
She drops a FISTFUL of change in my hand and turns around, waddling quickly away.  When I say a fistful of change, I mean pennies, nickels, and dimes.
I get aggravated, sigh, stand there dumb-founded, and then head to show Brian the injustice.  Along the way the little Brian voice in my head tells me to count the money.   It's EIGHTY-TWO CENTS.
Yes, that's right.  The cab driver just JIPPED ME 18 cents on something I gave her $2 off on.   I mutter to myself "I should go after her."   Brian looks at me and says, "i would."

So, I take off after Sweaty, who has only just now made it to her cab-van (keep in mind, she was waddling quickly away, I still had time to count, sigh, count again, show Brian, have a conversation with my conscience, and walk the same path she had walked).   She sees me coming and slams the door.  I start talking to her and she rolls up the window, sticks her tongue out at me, and speeds away.   Seriously?    I can't believe there are actually people like that in this world!  And to think, I didn't think anyone could POSSIBLY top the lady who tried to steal the duffle bag and then threw it out her window.  I guess this lady is our new current champion.

A bunch more customers came and went, we made a few more sales, one lady who bought one of our sewing machines (we gave her an amazing deal and a statue) was kind enough to bring us snowballs, and our faithful companion / assistant/ and friend Trish was helping sort/clean/sell-- so we were actually getting a ton done.  With the 3 of us there was actually time for one of us to sort inside, one of us to sort outside, and one of us to deal with customers.  There were still a lot of customers, too!  I was feeling very good about the day, which was about 3/4 of the way over, when weird thing #3 happened.

Remember that competitor I mentioned above?  The one who I'm 99.9% positive is the one who complained about our blog, and the one who I'm now 100% positive told a tenant where to find us?  Well, I look up the alleyway and I see him coming.  At our sale.    

It's not uncommon to see competition at our sales-- sometimes they actually come to buy things (we sell to them wholesale, which is very nice of us considering our prices are super cheap already) -- but more often than not they come under the guise of checking us out.  I can't say I blame them as I'd do the same thing to them if I cared that much.  Or if I wasn't as busy as I am.  If we ever stop having sales as often as we do, I'd maybe venture to some of their shops.  Actually, we DID visit the shop of one of our auction bidders the other day-- we like her, and we liked her shop too!  But we made an offer on some merchandise that was a win win win, so at least she benefitted in some way from our visit.   I can't say the same about visits from other competitors.

This guy walks up to me, on this day, and I have a pretty good idea why he's there, but he confirmed it as soon as he opens his mouth:  "So, did that lady come here?"  - a HA.  I have not mentioned said lady, so now I know it was you.  Busted.  I ask a bunch of questions about how she found me, and eventually find out that she went to this guy's store because she was looking for stores that might have these types of items and he suggested that she could look online to find this blog to find me,.  Not as bad as giving her my phone number per say, (which still might have happened because I don't really believe what I'm being told anyway), but still pretty reprehensible.  Whatever.  I basically just smile sweetly, and state the truth-- that I'm really happy he gave her my information as we made a good sale and she recovered all of her beloved belongings.  Nice try, dude.   I love how you give a tenant our information, and then have the balls to SHOW UP to see if she came to our sale!   At least he's got balls!

As a slight disclaimer, I will say that it is totally possible that I am over-exaggerating about all of this.  He might not have said much to her, she might have found us on her own, he might have legitimately been passing through and saw our sale,    etc, etc, etc.  But that is HIGHLY unlikely, isn't it, dear readers?  You be the judge.  Please tell me in comments if I'm wrong.

What a day, what a sale, right?  Never a dull moment!

Finally, I have to say--  shout out to Loyola University New Orleans (my alma mater) and its students.  We showed up there today for a sale sponsored by Alpha Kappa Psi (my Fraternity) -- once they had found out what I was up to, they asked us to come and speak about our business, and then have a sale on campus.  We had a garage sale, it was super well perceived by students, and it was really nice to have a large sale in air conditioning with a lot of young, enthusiastic, friendly, charming people.  They were so helpful -- opening doors for us when we were carrying boxes and very politely asking about prices.  We loved our experience there and would be happy again to do it anytime!  I should have named this blog "The Tale of Two Sales"  I guess, but that's okay-  maybe some other time.


  1. WOW! You have some interesting stuff happen to you at garage sales. As for your competition, sounds like he is doing everything he can to discourage you from continuing in this business. I guess he figures if you have the crap scared out of you by some former tenants then you will want to quit. I take that to mean that you are apparently doing something right and taking business away from him.

    We are having our annual yard sale next Saturday and I doubt we will have these types of stories! I just hope for a nice quiet day with lots of sales! LOL

  2. I agree, no coincidence...he had to have said more than that. At least it worked out this time and you got to know a little more about him.

  3. Where/when are your garage sales?

  4. Just about every Saturday, and some Sundays when the Saints aren't playing. Our next sale will be an estate sale on Sat the 12th from 8-10am.... and then our regular schedule resumes-- Saturdays 8-1, and Sundays 8-12 if no game.



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