Here's a picture of my (I think) beautiful ornament display. A little creativity goes a long way!
Some of these ornaments are SO weird. I don't understand what they have to do with Christmas or why people would even buy them. Like this one, for example:
It's really cute to make ornaments with your kids out of cookie ingredients and have them color them. It's not really cute to STORE them for people to find months or years later!
One word about this next picture. WHY?
After the severed doll leg, I have no choice but to tell Brian I think it's time to pack up and call it a night!
Saturday night: It's 10:56pm and I should be going to sleep to prepare for tomorrow's garage/estate/yard sale-- but I honestly can't, because all I can think is that I have to start writing this blog about what happened today before I forget, no, block out of my memory, it's atrocity:
Saturday Morning: For starters, we arrive at the house (again, we're having our sale this weekend inside a house)-- and everything is set up nicely thanks to our efforts throughout the week and Brian and Lily's efforts in the morning. It's beautiful. A few tables outside with some clothing racks, all the Christmas stuff in the living room, and things in the kitchen and den. Here are a few pictures of what the sale looked like:
8:00am rolls around and we've already had 3-4 customers, but none of them have bought even one thing. This is totally outside of our experience because usually the "Early birds" are the ones who literally want to get the worm, and they buy the big dollar amounts and the good stuff first. Nope, these people have just woken up at 7am to looky loo. Great.
A neighbor wanders by and wants to buy a compressor we have outside. This is part of our "estate sale" so we're not sure if it works or not, but let them know and tell them $50-- because they're a neighbor, we end up giving it to them for $40. Ten minutes later the guy strolls over, with his coffee, and starts his sentence with "I don't mean to be a jerk, but" (I can't WAIT for this)-- I see Brian literally bite his lip... "the compressor doesn't work. It's broken. It can't be fixed, and it's only worth about $120 anyway." I think Brian's going to go off on him, but he doesn't (it was still early, I guess) and he calmly looks at me and without a word I give the guy his money back. At some point I think Brian tells him that all he needs to replace is a $12 part, and that it's actually a $480 compressor, but he doesn't care. Whatever, his loss is our gain. We'll sell it for $50 like we were going to do in the first place!
Next thing I know, some "Real housewife" complete in track suit enters the picture, and wants to see the Pokemon cards. We have a collection of about 250 Pokemon cards neatly organized in a nice collectible players tin. The first thing she tells me is "I don't know anything about this, I just am buying them for my son, he's totally into it." I ALMOST believe her, until I realize she's going through the cards meticulously, and sorting them into piles. She's mumbling to herself things like "these are energy cards" and "these are kabloomah magical mystery cards" -- (she didn't really say that, I just have no idea what any other classification of Pokemon cards is), and I realize she's looking for specific rare cards. She asks for a price, I tell her $40 for the box (which I think is MORE than generous, it's less than you would pay to buy them all in the store)--- she scoffs at it and tells me she won't pay more than $30. I say no way. She asks if I'm sure, I say positive... I point out that it's 250 cards so it's less than 20 cents per card PLUS it's a free tin, but she keeps saying $30 is all she has, will I take it. I tell her fine, if she buys other things, I'll take $30 (at this point, I'm thinking I can get her to do $10 or $20 in other bs merchandise). She looks around, finds nothing, asks me again if I'll take $30, I say no, she says that's all she has, I say no, and she goes to her car. She comes back later with $38, the 8 is all in ones and coins. Wow-- guess you REALLY wanted those Pokemon cards, right, lady? If only you hadn't stopped for that tall skinny caramel latte this morning, right? She begs me to take it and I do. She's on her merry way.
I should point out by now that it's not even 8:45 yet! Brian's drinking a beer and I've eaten half a jar of peanuts (I don't even like peanuts that much) - just to keep my mouth shut.
Our next jerk.. customer.. comes in and it's this picker guy, with a truck full of crap, who's obviously looking for something to make his truck full of crap magically sell for hundreds of dollars, and as soon as we see him coming we both know that it's going to end poorly. I love pickers-- some of the coolest people in this business are pickers-- Shoutout, for example, to Redneck Picker (you can find him here: Redneck Picker's Facebook ), who is one of our favorite pickers. If you didn't know, a "picker" is kind of like what we do-- only instead of buying an entire unit kind of blind and hoping for the best, they scour the country looking in odd places and not-so-odd places for those few magical items that are perfect for their needs and that will make them profit. There's all kind of picker shows now, just like auction shows now-- and because of that we have just as many people (if not more) who think they're going to pick garage sales as we do people who show up at auctions expecting to find gold. The difference is that in the auction world, newbies get discouraged VERY easily by the labor, the moving, the costs, the short amount of time to clean out the locker, the lack of storage space, blah blah blah-- in the picking world, those obstacles (minus maybe the lack of storage space and lack of funding) don't really exist. A picker can freely roam yard sales, flea markets, junk yards, and take what they want and nothing more. It's for this reason that they (newbie pickers, not pickers in general) are most unwelcome at our garage sales.
REAL pickers (and correct me if I'm wrong RP or Kass or anyone else reading this), have respect for others in the field. They aren't going to knock your stuff to try to get a better price, they aren't going to disrespect you. Newbies, just like in the auction world, can be rude and conceited. They may try to play the tough-guy card or the know-it-all card to try to psych you out of the price you want and get an advantage. They need to learn that it's actually a DISADVANTAGE, because if they really wanted to succeed in this business, they'd learn that contacts are everything. Being a total douchebag to others in your field is not going to help you down the line. It's not going to make you stand out amongst competition. We're not owners of competing food court kiosks at the mall, we actually have to work together in certain areas, and this WILL come back to bite you. But I digress... back to the story.
So Douchepick (that's his new name), comes in and walks straight to the cast iron pots. He wants to know how much, I tell him $10 for the little ones and $15 for the big ones. This is a very generous price. We wholesale these skillets for $25 a piece. We have sold at least 30 of them at the $10 and $15 prices. He of course scoffs at it, I tell him it's a good price, he points out he's a picker (as if that's magically supposed to change my mind about the price), and I point out that if he's a picker he should KNOW it's a good price. He starts rambling about how they're Chinatown skillets and he couldn't sell them for $2.50. It takes everything in my power NOT to say one of the following comments-- a) "Because yes, the Chinese are known for their cast iron" or b) "If you can't sell them for $2.50 you're a really terrible salesperson" but I keep my mouth shut. I think I may have rolled my eyes though (nobody's perfect). He then makes his way over to our silver-plated serving set. It's one of the 50+ piece ones, in the cedar box, and its' really nice-- 1950s, a rare pattern, William & Rogers Co, which is one of the better known companies-- he asks the price, I know there's no way in hell he's going to buy it, so I throw out a number just to see what he's going to do, and I say $50. He starts hemming and hawing and talking about how it's worthless, and this and that, and I ask him why is he asking me the price, you know, the usual, and he's saying it's worth nothing, it's just silver PLATE. I let him know I'm not stupid, it's OBVIOUSLY silver plate (it even says so), otherwise we would have sold it at $37 an ounce 3 months ago. I point out that it's Wm. & Rogers, he tells me that company is worthless, I tell him he knows nothing about them-- he says he had a set that he couldn't sell for $10, I actually remark now that he IS a shitty salesman, I tell him he can probably sell the pieces on Replacements.com for at least $2.50 a piece or so and there's over 50 pieces there. He points out again that it's silver plated, I turn around and walk away. He's still talking. Brian comes inside (he's running the outside ring of our circus) and asks where the guy is "in the pile of crap truck" (I think he knew what had been happening) and fortunately, Douchepick leaves. Phew.
This neighborhood, we soon discover, apparently has a ton of little girls who live nearby (by little I mean probably about 7-11 years old, and by nearby I mean right across the street), and their parents are getting ready for a birthday party for a 3 year old, so they are amusing themselves by running back and forth between their respective houses and our sale. I can tell Brian is instantly alarmed--he does not like hyper girls in general and is easily aggravated and confused by children-- so the fact that it's a bunch of hyper girl children is not helping this matter. I totally welcome the kids as I think they are probably at least going to have as much sense (if not more) than a few of the 50 year olds we've had on this day, plus it's a reason for me to excuse myself from the two old ladies who have picked up EVERY SINGLE ITEM and have told me EVERY SINGLE ITEM was TOO EXPENSIVE, even though the highest price I ever quoted them on any one thing was $2.
The little girls start looking around and are instantly fascinated with the shoes, the bags, the jewelry (those are MY kind of girls!) -- and I'm helping them look at things. They actually spent about $40 between the four of them, which is more than I can say about many of our older customers this particular day.
I'm talking to the girls and chit-chatting about the newest Disney shows and so on and so forth (This made me think of you, MOD- rest in peace, friend)-- and all of a sudden, I hear this low, growling, kind of Johnny Cash voice, and it's this guy who is asking how much certain tools and manly types of things are-- and everything I tell him a price on, he of course talks about how it's too much, including a Ryobi drill I offered him for $5. It was missing the charger, sure, but still... I'm sure you can replace that or find another battery or cord or dock or some such nonsense. Whatever. He also REEKS of smoke.
(Speaking of smoke, I have to tell you that while I was shopping with the little girls, Brian was outside, politely asking this lady to put out her cigarette, because although she was outside, she kept walking it dangerously close to other shoppers and stood for several minutes while it was in other people's faces. She refused. He asked her again. She told him it was a free country and she could do what she wanted. I'm not sure what he told her next, but whatever it was she turned herself and her kids around and marched them all to her car. Good Riddance. I think some people actually cheered when she left).
Back to the Growler: He looks at everything and keeps dissing the prices, because he has a store or something, and blah blah blah. Whatever. I'm kind of glad he's a jerk because my lungs cry whenever I get within 5 feet of him-- so at least now I don't have to feel bad for ignoring a friendly customer. He zooms in on exactly what we figured he'd zoom in on, a table full of COSTUME jewelry. Here's a picture:
Now, we carefully organized this sale-- and we separated CHEAP looking costume jewelry (plastic, and beads, and glass) from EXPENSIVE looking costume jewelry (with a gold or silver look to it). We did this on purpose. We sell cheap looking costume jewelry for $1-$2 a piece, and the more expensive looking plated stuff for $5-$20 a piece. With that said, we also made an agreement before the sale that regardless of how much anyone was going to pay, we would NOT be dishonest-- we would tell EVERYONE (whether they asked or not) that the table of jewelry was NOT real gold and silver. We made sure to thoroughly tell everyone looking at it, just in case there was a miscommunication or misunderstanding. We purposely were trying NOT to screw people. We didn't even want to let people THINK that it was gold or silver when it wasn't.
There was a good reason for this. When we dig through units, we find all sorts of jewelry-- we can tell VERY quickly whether it's real or fake, 99% of the time, by our magnet test or our sound test, etc (read our Facebook note on ways/tips to identify real gold and silver here) -- but there's always that 1% of the time where even we were tricked and had to resort to a chemical test or a jeweler's opinion. There were four or five such pieces included on this table that even fooled us. They weren't magnetic, they made the right sounds, and had the right look-- hell, one of them was even STAMPED with a 14k stamp! It made us one day excited for 10 minutes when we thought we had $700+ in 14 karat gold. (That blog is coming soon, btw, it's called "His Name was Lester" -- If you're curious which one this piece is in the picture, it's the herringbone looking necklace immediately to the left of the gold watch and the gold/silver plated horse Western wear bracelets. So, the Growler heads immediately to that piece, and we tell him it's not real. He gives us some BS about how he's just buying jewelry because his sister repairs jewelry and makes her own and is looking for some pieces she can use in her creations. RIGHT. He then turns his back to us, and pulls out a magnet. Brian tells him "Sir, that's NOT going to magnetize, but I promise you, it's NOT real." He gives us some BS excuse about why he's got the magnet, and next he sends his son (yes, unfortunately it bred), out into the light with a freaking JEWELER's LOUPE to make sure the mark is indeed a 14k mark. Brian tells him again, LOUDER, "SIR... I KNOW it's not magnetizing, and I KNOW it SAYS it's 14k, but I PROMISE you. It's NOT $700 in gold, it's fake." The guy gives him another bullshit excuse and this goes on and on and on for about 20 minutes while the dude (mumbling the ENTIRE TIME), RAVAGES our table.
Now keep in mind that FOUR girls under the age of 12 have been looking at this table for 25 minutes practically unsupervised and there is no damage. This 50+ year old man has 2 minutes with it and it looks like someone let monkeys from the zoo do whatever they wanted on it. It's a shame. I even made a comment (still kind of in a friendly tone), "Gee, the girls didn't make a mess, but you sure did!" -- or something like that. He didn't even look up. Just kept grumbling. He finally finishes "shopping" and now has about 8-9 of our nicest pieces on the table. The girls had each bought a ring or a bracelet and I had charged them $5 for the rings and small pieces and $10 for the bracelets or large pieces. They had NO problems with this. This dude has 8-9 bracelets and chains and I charge him $40. At the top of his lungs he DROPS the pile on ANOTHER table (not even the one they came off of) and goes "WHAT?! That's RIDICULOUS!" I say, "Sir.. the pieces are $5-$10 a piece, I gave you all of them for $5 each, AND I gave you one for free." He goes "That's RIDICULOUS!" again. I point out (loud enough for everyone to hear) that the 8-10 year olds who don't even have jobs thought it was a fair price and he's 5 times their age and has a problem with it, what does that say about him. Brian chuckles and repeats the same sentiments. He mumbles something. (He's been mumbling a lot)... and Brian being Brian, walks right over to him, and says "WHAT's THAT sir? You were mumbling!" - He mumbles again and Brian says "I think you have a mumbling problem, I can't understand a word you're saying. Are you deciding if you can afford the same price as the little girls?" The guy sends his son back outside with the loupe AGAIN, and then decides on 2 pieces for $10.
Now, several things to consider about this dude:
1) If someone is going to LIE to you about something being real or fake-- wouldn't they tell you it was REAL? What possible incentive could a seller have for lying to you about something being fake?
2) If you are SO convinced that the pieces you have are real, why do you in fact leave half of them behind?
3) Finally, and most importantly-- if you THINK you're getting one OVER on us, by buying a 14k piece of real gold that's worth over $700, that you can get at LEAST $200 cash for JUST by walking into the closest pawn shop, are you really going to be so stupid as to refuse to pay $5 for it?
All I can say is, Grr, Growler!
After the Growler leaves I head back to the little girls (Brian is outside, I think he's followed the jerk all the way to his car), and realize that they are still shopping and are now trying on shoes. Since some of the Stripper's shoes (not her "working" shoes, just her casual "normal wear" shoes) are out here on display, there are quite a few that are 5 inches or more and I'm a little concerned about their safety (the kids, not the shoes). *I* can walk in these shoes with no problem, but let's face it, I'm pretty good at what I do ;) Seriously, I know a lot of 30-year-old women who can't even do 5 inch heels, so I'm nervous that a kid who's foot takes up 1/2 of the shoe is going to break her ankle. I talk her down, and turn around, and see the other little girl has tried on the boots. THE boots. You know these boots. They were made famous by Pretty Woman. Behold:
Only, in this case, instead of coming up just past the lower thigh, they are actually sitting in this girls crotch. I think I audibly gasped out loud. (I really hope we don't get flagged for some sort of naughty child site with all of these keywords I'm putting out here-- hopefully they will READ before they flag!)
At this point, Brian comes in, sees what's happening, can't hide the look of shock on HIS face either-- and when the little girl asks how much the boots are, FORTUNATELY he thought faster than I did, and said "$100" -- he KNEW there would be no way they could come up with that much money and that they'd quickly take off the boots for fear of hurting/scratching/ruining them. He was right. Well played. And we didn't have to be mean to precious little kids-- who were some of our best customers!
Speaking of best customers, shoutout to our friends and fans who visited us on Saturday, including Anthony, Brian (another Brian), and our friend Lilliann who brought the kids -- I had fun playing with them in the yard, and afterwards, only a lone sippy cup remained! A testament to our time in this battleground!
Little Jacqueline was SO cute I just had to take a picture. She's also behind bars, which is true for many of our tenants and shoppers-- so I thought it was applicable for the blog ;)
After the kids, friends, and special guests, we decided to wrap it up and go get some food! Shoutout to Cheeseburger Eddie's, a new burger joint in Metairie. It's pretty awesome. If Cheeseburger Eddie's wants to sponsor us, we will not turn you down! Hell, we'll try every burger. We'll blog about every burger. We'll make a Storage Heroes burger that contains dreams and dirty underwear. Okay, we're kidding. Or are we?
Sunday: The morning has been admittedly slow, so slow, in fact- that I decided I needed to be blogging instead, so I left Brian alone for a few minutes to run home and grab my laptop. When I returned, I see Brian, with a lady, and he's taking pictures of her counting change. Oh goodness... right away I know this is going to be good! Typically, I'd bring my stuff inside before coming back out to "work" but I hang around with my laptop bag and purse on either arm and start watching the drama. Basically, this lady (we'll call her Penny, for reasons you'll soon understand) is trying to buy the following things: a makeup case (brand new), 3 pieces of costume jewelry, a Deja Vu showgirls pen (we had about 1000 pens to choose from, btw, and she picked THAT one), and a fairly new Estee Lauder compact. I can tell she's already given Brian some kind of sob story, because not only has he told her $5 for all of this stuff, but he's standing patiently as she counts out pennies and nickels. PENNIES and NICKELS. She has a jar of change (quarters, dimes, pennies, and nickels), but she's taking out just the pennies and nickels and putting them in the side of our dominoes game to count. Brian tells her to add in some of the bigger stuff because the pennies and nickels she has out (because he is so good at money he can tell just by glancing at a pile of it) do not equal even $4, but Penny says no, she's trying to save the stuff in the jar... she can't use ALL of her change up! He tells her (starting to get exasperated), that he'll take what's there (it's still less than the $5 he quoted her and he's still being SO nice), and she says "no, I'll give you $3 for it." He says "no, $5, or I'll take what you have there." Penny says "no, $3" Behold, the rest of the conversation:
Brian: No, $5. I won't take a penny less (ha!)... I was going to, but now I won't.
Penny: (Picking up just one or two things..) How much for just THESE things? Will you take $2?
Brian: No. I'm not selling them.
Penny: Excuse me? But I only want these two things.
Brian: They aren't for sale. You agreed to $5 and that's what you needed to buy- you're wasting my time.
Penny: I'll go home then and get a $5 bill and come back.
Brian: Nope. I'll be gone. We'll be closed.
Penny: Can't you work with me, here?
Brian: Nope. I'm done working with you. Thank you. Have a nice day. (He starts to walk off)
Brian: Thank you.
Now Brian is practically inside the house, and she's still screaming at him.
Penny: ALL I ASK IS THAT YOU *WORK* WITH ME!
(At this point, I've HAD it. I'm usually the docile one, Brian is usually the one who tells the people off. I don't really like confrontation, but in this case, this lady had it coming, and my business partner did nothing wrong-- he was being nicer to her than he's been to any of our rude customers in a long time. So I decided to stick up for him.)
Me: He HAS worked with you. He sat there for 5 minutes while you counted your change, and then you still tried to stiff him $2.
Penny: I'm not trying to STIFF anyone-- I am poor.
Me: Then you shouldn't be shopping.
Penny: Look, you're obviously a little rich girl, you have NO IDEA what it's like.
Me: Excuse me? (I realize that I was dressed preppy, but ironically EVERYTHING I was wearing came from a storage unit minus my jeans and shoes!)
Penny: I'm a single mother and I have kids and you have no idea what it's like.
Me: Look, if you don't have money, you shouldn't be shopping. I don't feel sorry for you. It's not like you're buying food and diapers and clothing-- you're trying to buy costume jewelry and cosmetics. You shouldn't shop if you can't afford it. You're wasting everyone's time.
Penny: YOU'RE wasting MY time!
Me: I'm not the one making people count pennies!
Penny: You're a bitch!
Me: Just leave. Have a nice day.
She gets in her car and tries to turn around (so that she can drive right past me)-- even though she can get out going the way she's facing. She attempts to make a 3 point turn, but it ends up being a 12 point turn. The entire time, I'm watching her with my arms crossed shaking my head and laughing at her. She yells something at me that I can't understand, and I yell back that she better not hit my car, because she clearly doesn't have enough to pay for it. I can't help it, I'm SO annoyed at this point. Brian hears me yelling and comes back outside, just in time to see her driving by. As she passes, she rolls down her window and shouts another expletive at me. I tell her I hope her kids have more class than she does. She tells me she's a good mom and is trying to provide for her children without any help from us and that we could be more kind, and I told her again that we were plenty patient and that all she did was try to stiff us on crap and pay in pennies. She's so angry, you can tell she wants to yell an insult at me, but can't think of anything... so she YELLS "You think you're classy, missy? With your stupid.... blue... sparkly... Dorothy shoes!!" and drives away. As she's driving off, I yell "My shoes cost more than $1.00 in pennies!" and Brian yells "THAT was your closing insult? Wow!" And we were done.
We typically try not to take pictures of people at our sales because we don't really have their permission, but in this case we were outside in a public place and she totally deserves to be outed, so I present to you some pictures of Penny, well, counting her pennies:
Here's a close-up of the items Penny was trying to buy:
A picture of what I was wearing, so you can see how I'm clearly trying to flaunt wealth:
Oh, and last but not least, here's a picture of my "sparkly blue shoes!":
After Penny, we had decided we had had enough and were getting ready to pack up and go-- when we had a few special friend visitors, so we hung around just a little while longer, and all of a sudden drives up (separately), two pretty special guys.
One is looking at clothing, slippers, things of that nature, and the other is looking at all sorts of random things. Slipperman wants two pairs of slippers that originally sold at Macy's for $30 (that still have the original price tag on them) for $2 each, we tell him he's crazy and that the price tag originally said $30, and he says "yeah, but they were marked down to $10" and I REITERATE that $5 (what we were asking) is STILL 50% off of the lowest marked price, jerk. He ended up buying some other stuff though, so Brian gave him maybe $1 off, or something. I was just happy to not have to fight over price tags anymore. Random Man finishes shopping at this point and has picked up a bicycle, some tools, and a pile of books. Most of the books were encyclopedias and huge hard backs, which would normally be $1-$2 each, but Brian is feeling generous so tells him $0.50 each. Of course, if you give them an inch, they take a mile, and now Random Man wants all the books for $0.25. Brian says no way, and Random Man says "aw, come on dude, these books aren't special... I have all these books at home already!" SERIOUSLY? Then why the crap are you buying them?? Why is this such a weird day? Why are all of the freaks coming to our garage sale? Did I accidentally type "freak" instead of "cheap" in our Craigslist ad? I just don't get it... Please, just take your National Geographic and your bike with no air in the tires, and get the crap out of here.
We wrapped up our sale, and honestly, it wasn't the best one, money wise that we've ever had. I think a lot of it had to do with the other things going on that weekend, and a lot of it was because of our new location. We had one of the best pre-sales we've ever had, so we had already made tons of profit, so we didn't care too much about that, and we still made several hundred dollars, which is fine. We're also thrilled because the next door neighbor (who also happens to be an old friend of Brian's and the grandmother of an old friend of mine) is a total amazing lady and a real sweetheart and we got to spend the entire weekend with her. The best part about it (despite the endless frustration at freak after freak after freak), was that we now have some GREAT stories to tell. See, dear readers, we took one for the team! For you guys! We hope you enjoyed these sad tales.
Storage Heroes Tip #26: If you have to count out your pennies and dimes to shop, you probably shouldn't be shopping.
Until next time.