Thrift Comes at a Price

Thrift Comes at a Price

I remember going into a Goodwill once as a kid. I’d only been to that store maybe one other time, and it was probably with my grandmother. That woman could pinch a penny and make it rain nickels.

It was getting close to Halloween when my mom took me with her to the store. Some element of an outfit I needed she thought she might find there. I was in elementary school. I can’t remember how old I was. Seven? Nine?

The only three things I remember about that trip:

  1. The store was dirty.
  2. It smelled weird.
  3. I saw the art teacher.

I’m not sure what my costume was. I want to say hippie, which looking back seems like an odd choice for 1980 – 1982. At any rate, I was mortified to be seen there. In hindsight, I now understand why my own children didn’t care to go, either.

Another thing I detested? Yard sales. Both my grandmother and mother could turn on a dime for a yard sale. The directions are on an index card written in white crayon? They could see it. NASCAR has nothing on those two women. They could make a U-turn on a four-lane road in the middle of morning rush hour and never lose an ash off their cigarette or spill a drop of Diet Pepsi.

It wasn’t often we stayed with my grandmother but I remember one Saturday she’d picked my brother and me up early. We’d gone with her to the chiropractor and as we were headed back to her house, she spotted a yard sale. She pulled over to the side of the road and put the car in park. Before she turned off the key, I probably groaned or whined and said, “I’ll just sit in the car.”

She looked back at me, pursed her lips in a way I knew was serious business, turned back, put the car in drive in left.

It’s been at least thirty-five years since that happened, and I have no doubts there are still tire marks on Lynhurst Drive.

As I’ve grown up and learned to stretch my pennies, I’ve come to appreciate the things a good yard/garage sale, thrift store, or online buy/sell/trading has to offer. There is a treasure of things to discover. And then of course, if you have the desire to be crafty as I do, you can do this:

cake stand and plateIt just so happened the cake stand cover fit the plate. I bought seven pieces in total, all clear glass. Two small plates, two candlesticks, a large serving plate and a vase.  Probably less than $10 in total. After a can of spray paint and tube of special glue, I had a fancy and one-of-a-kind cake stand and two raised dishes.

However, as much as I love the thrill of the thrift, I don’t care much for being the one doing the selling. Most specifically a yard/garage sale.

To me, it’s cut-and-dry:

  • Gather the things I no longer want.
  • Price them fair and reasonable given condition.
  • Display goods in an organized and orderly fashion.
  • Smile, conversate, collect monies.
  • Pack up unsold goods and distribute to appropriate outlets.

I use what I call “The Goodwill Method” for pricing. The reason is simple. I’ve never seen someone ask if they will take less for anything in the store. What is marked is what they pay or they let it sit. I’m not saying no one has ever asked, but I’ve yet to witness it.

In my thinking, I price slightly lower than what Goodwill would price. Even lower in some instances. But without fail, it feels like the entire day is answering the endless question of, “Will you take less for this?”

It annoys me to no end. I want to shout, “DO YOU SEE .25 WRITTEN? NO. I WANT THE WHOLE $2!” I’m the type of person who will go to a yard sale and pay whatever is marked. If I feel the price is too high, I leave it. No awkward back-and-forth. No disappointment. No (what feels like) confrontation.

I’m currently in the process of decluttering my house. And when I mean decluttering, I mean I have found things other people who reside here have taken out of the various donation boxes and hidden. They’ve also taken to locking things up or putting them on high shelves in hopes said items escape my scrutiny.

In an attempt to be brave, I’ve been trying my hand at selling a few things via a popular (or at least to me it is) online buy/sell/trade site. I’ve used the site before to purchase several things, and I really like it because each group is for a specific area.

So far, I’ve had great results. And I’ve had some people ask if I’d take less on a few things. This led me wondering if it is common knowledge and expected there will be negotiating when it comes to any type of private sale.

As one does when doing extensive research, I went to Facebook and took a poll.

As of this writing, here are the results:

Buy at listed price: 25%
Negotiate lower price: 75%

A couple of people had a few words to say….

The idea of telling someone I will give them less than they ask for something at a garage sale is mortifying to me. Like, it’s already $1. I’m not going to haggle to save twenty-five cents.  – Courtney

I won’t ask on anything under $3. Over that I’ll ask, worst that can happen is you pay asking price or walk away without the item. The best to happen is they get the price they REALLY want and you feel like you got a deal. – Byron

We went to the flea market today. I was fully prepared to pay sticker prices or walk away. In a couple of booths I was seriously looking at something, both women immediately offered less than asking price.

In another booth, I saw a sign that read something to the effect: “Nothing under $20 will be discounted. We work really hard to make the prices fair as well as worth our time here.” I had to give him props for being upfront about it.

If there is anything I’ve learned it’s this – if I don’t want to negotiate prices, then don’t put up anything for sale.

And I’m probably still going to pay the price marked.

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