Sunday, 19 June 2011

Poacher Turned Gamekeeper

I was up a five this morning preparing for a car boot sale. But no goodies to show you today - this time I was selling rather than buying.

I live in a cute corner bungalow which I absolutely love, but no matter how much I dress it up as cosy or bijoux, the fact is, it's very, very small. It's not really a packratter's house. I am clever with storage but it's still packed to the rafters. As the place was feeling a little full again, and as I'm only getting SSP right now, we figured it was as good a time as any to have a clear-out. In an ideal world, I'd have adapted Jackie's tips over at Lets Get Thrifting and have been super-organised about everything. Unfortunately what actually happened was that Dave casually suggested having a sale yesterday afternoon. By three PM this had somehow become a firm commitment and I was frantically sorting through piles of junk.

I didn't get too far with my reduced mobility, but I did manage to sort out over 500 books. 500!!!! and they are just the ones I could bear to part with, a small fraction of what I actually own. The vast majority of them were thrifted, almost all of them have been read, and though I've always had vague ideas that I should become an Amazon seller or start Bookcrossing, I never have. I don't have the time or the patience. 

I also found a whole bunch of videos and our old VCR machine. Now, I don't know about you, but I do mourn the VCR's passing. We only ever had the one machine, and it was super-cool because it was metallic mint green. Any time it broke I could just take it apart and fix it, usually with an elastic band. On the other hand, we've been through about five DVD players in ten years. It's tricky to fix them yourself (or at least, I've never managed it successfully) and not economically viable to find a repairman. Along with mp3 players they are the ultimate in disposable electronics. I find that rather depressing. But our flat-screen is so snobby it won't even speak to the VCR, so off to the sale it went. 

The rest of the goods were frantically thrown together and consisted of random stuffed toys, gag gifts, stocking fillers and other 'novelties' received as gifts over the years, and several boxes of junk that I suspect had never been unpacked from when we moved here seven years ago.

It had been so long I had forgotten what a car boot sale is like from the seller's perspective. Just as I think all high-up managers have a duty to go back to the floor every once in a while, I definitely think the average punter should try the other side of the trestle table now and then.

You know when you just see something and it's love at first sight? Then you ask the price and it's so shockingly little you don't even have to think twice? Maybe the seller wanted you to have it. Today I sold handbags, soft toys and jewellery for less than I would have had in mind for the simple reason that the buyer was obviously in love. I know that this is the polar reversal of what I should be doing. If the person loves it and can't live without it, you can name your price, right? Maybe, but it just felt right to spread the love instead. I got a fuzzy glow knowing that my trash is going to be treasured. 

I realised just how much friendliness counts. I had some great conversations with people who were thinking of reading my books, or spotted books they'd read too and wanted to know my opinion of, or who just wanted to know why I had so many for sale. I found myself recommending books, finding them out of the boxes for them and offering discounts. Lots of books found discerning new owners today and I'm pleased. 

Kids got great deals as well. It's hard to charge a lot when a kid is studiously counting out pennies to pay for the bounty they've just found. I've got to find me a kid to take booting. They are ninja negotiators.

I also remembered how rude some buyers can be. How annoying it is when people pounce while you're still unpacking, or demand to know if you've got this or you've got that before your table is even up. Wait until it's out of the car, people! Don't haggle a price down to 20p then try to pay with a £20 note.  And I have a special little message for one lady I encountered today. Maybe it is just me, but I found it very annoying. 

Dear obnoxious lady,
Ostentatiously checking ISDNs on Amazon to see how much you can flip a dozen books for is plain rude. At least get a scanning app and try to be discreet!
But even if you are as indiscreet as they come, please don't try to rip the seller off. She knows what you're doing. She doesn't mind that you're a reseller. Hey, she respects it and she'll help you out if you're open and honest.
When this is casually alluded to, don't blatantly lie and say they're all penny-plus-postage books. One of them sells for £10 on its own! All that will happen is that the seller will politely refuse to do business with you. Later, when another buyer casually mentions in the course of conversation that they sell on Amazon, the seller will offer them these books for a price that is low but fair, and wish them all the best getting a good price for them.
Still, good luck, eh?
Rosie x

Anyway, I had a great morning, earned about £60, and despite selling loads of stuff, I have no more room than before. I was so well behaved (and broke) that I didn't look at anyone else's stall at all and didn't buy a thing! But I still had great fun and I am planning to turn gamekeeper again in a few weeks time. Except this time I will get organised and I might even get round to sorting out some of the good stuff to sell! I never would have thought selling would be as much fun as buying, but it is!

1 comment:

Jackie said...

Hey there, Rosie. Thanks for the mention. I aim for organization but sometimes, reality of the situation is: there's just too much stuff! Don't worry, I was still running around like a crazy woman yesterday with the garage sale.

I'm glad you were able to sort and sell so much!

I'll be posting all about yesterday's successes and failures later tonight. And I totally understand the frustration of hagglers and re-sellers... ugh.