A few years ago, when moving to a new home, we decided to have a garage sale to get rid of household goods that we had outgrown and/or that did not pass the E=MC2 test for lugging across town. Usual items included kids clothes and toys, furniture, kitchen and garden tools and other miscellany of a growing household. There were also many books. I had carelessly plopped the books on a card table, but certain people who want things always neat, tidy and perfect envisioned a better display. This person went around to the backyard and grabbed two large rocks to use as bookends. People perused, and one informed me that the going rate for books at garage sales was $.25. The snark in me informed the shopper that well may be, but I had much better taste in books than most. He walked away in a huff and I worried briefly about redoing the family finances due to the loss of $.50 or so. Hubs smoothly dropped by the book display to assist with (diffuse?) any problems that may arise from my well known people skills.
A lovely woman then came over and pointed to the book display and asked “How much?” I replied the books were all $.50. “No, not those, those” she said as she pointed again. I was starting to get the gist, but had to be sure. “Um, the, um, bookends?” “Yes, the bookends!” (you dolt, her glance implied). Hubs promptly piped up “Five dollars.” She asked “For both or each?” “Each” he replied with confidence. “Great, I’ll take them! Do you have any more?” “Well, yes, I think we do” replied my always accommodating husband. “I have some more in back, how many would you like?” “Oh, two more would be great, thank you!” she replied with a simpering smile for hubs and a slight, superior glower at me. Four backyard rocks, $20; in family lore, this amazing feat of salesmanship earned my dear husband the coveted Backyard Rock Award.
These last few weeks have shown me that liquidating a store is very similar to a garage sale, an endless, extremely painful garage sale. The usual suspects you see roaming neighborhoods Wednesdays and Saturdays with armfuls of treasures spilling over like a volcano releasing its lava are now at your place of business. Here are just a few:
Early Birds: No matter what time your published opening hours, there are always people waiting, and they are irritated that you are not open. Yes, they are mad that you are opening when you say you are going to open.
Lookie Loos: Of the approximately 1,000 things for sale, nothing is appealing, it’s really all junk and priced WAY too high. And why isn’t there more of a selection?
I Broke It, Now Won’t Buy It Guy: Wow, that wine rack looks really great, if I could just pull it apart a bit to see the construct… crack, oh, oops. No thanks.
Bottom Feeders: I will give you $.25 for that $10 serving plate that is now priced at $1. (Um, no, I would rather smash it and use it as drainage for my potted plants, thanks.)
The Real Bargain Shoppers: These are the people who wait and wait, watching for the very lowest, everything-must-go prices. They come back to survey the detritus that is the end of the liquidation, and are angry that there is almost nothing left to buy.
There is, however, plenty of opportunity to earn a Backyard Rock Award. This year’s winner is, I say with no modesty whatsoever, ME!!!
A woman was pawing rather disinterestedly through our merchandise, then with a “Come on, let’s get out of here right now” eye signal to her friend, pranced out of the store. But wait, on the cafe tables outside in front… two empty wine bottles, each festooned with a rather sad looking, three to five year old fake daffodil. She asked our intrepid store manager “How much?” Not having previous St. Louis garage sale experience, our manager was flummoxed. “What, those? Those are just empty wine bottles!” she replied and hurried away to help someone else. I squared my shoulders, mentally looking to hubs for inspiration, and blurted “Five dollars.” “Each or for both?” she asked. “Each” I replied with bravado. She bought both… I win!
Later that evening, as we enjoyed some leftovers of the day (liquidating a wine store has its perks), hubs gently informed me that he still stands above me in the Backyard Rock Award Hall of Fame, as there were in fact multiple empty wine bottles in back, and I probably could have scrounged up another limp old fake flower or two.