Monday, July 23, 2012

Reverence, Empathy and Sadness

Another weekend, another car full of stuff.  I keep telling myself that I need to skip scouting for a while, and concentrate on listing, but the siren song of the Craigslist ads keeps me heading out the door every Saturday morning.

Some friends had taken pity on me, and invited me over for a home-cooked meal early Saturday evening, and given that meals with actual conversation (talking to the dogs while eating a sandwich over the kitchen sink doesn’t count) have been in short supply since Ella left for Ohio, I wasn’t going to miss it.   However, I wanted to get some work done on Saturday before the meal, so I decided to keep the thrifting to a minimum.

I hit some early sales, including a 6 a.m. church sale, and then drove to a book and record sale at a local college that had been heavily advertised for two weeks, and was scheduled to open at 9 a.m.  I arrived at 8:30 a.m., expecting to see a line.  Two cars were in the parking lot, and no one was waiting by the door.  Cool, I thought, and grabbed my rolling tote, and went to start the line.  I like being first in.

By 9 a.m., there were only six people there, including me.  No one seemed to have scanners, and no one had totes, baskets, wheelbarrows (OK, maybe not wheelbarrows), or any of the equipment that I usually see at book sales.  When the doors opened, I casually strolled in, confident that it was going to be a good sale.

It was, I think, but not for me.  The majority of the books were ex-library (duh … it was a library sale), but the books were old.  It gave new meaning to the words “old book sale.”  I don’t deal in old books, but the other five people in line obviously did.  There was none of the mad rush to grab the books off the shelves, like a typical book sale, but more of a quiet, almost reverent, feel to the room as the other dealers painstakingly examined volumes, keeping some, and reshelving what they didn’t want.

Fortunately, there were a few newer titles, and after 30 minutes or so, I had filled my tote about halfway, exchanged pleasantries with a few of the workers, and paid for my books.

Originally, I had planned to head home at that point, but like an itch that you can’t quite scratch, or being hungry and not wanting anything in your refrigerator, I couldn’t be satisfied with the meager pickings, and decided to visit a few nearby estate/moving sales that I had researched (just in case, you know).

At the moving sale, I picked up a few more books; an original Playstation game system plus games for $5; and a box of action figures for $3.  I also kept looking at two long boxes full of well-organized comic books (with cardboard backings) in protective bags, which were advertised at $.25 each.  There had to be at least 200 comic books in each box.  The owner obviously saw me looking, and said he would make me a deal on all of them.

I don’t normally buy comic books; they are difficult to grade and sell, at least to me.  The word “deal,” though, always makes me listen.

OK, I asked, how much for all of them?   He started pointing out a few of the “gems” in one of the boxes, which, I guess, were worth a little money.  I began to think that his idea of a deal and mine were not in the same league.

After his sales pitch on the comic books, he said I could have all of them for ... he paused to think …

I waiting patiently, mentally coming up with reasons to decline his “deal.”


I automatically started to decline, but caught myself.  I guess his idea of a “deal” was exactly the same as mine.

Sold, I said.

After paying for my goods, the owner helped me carry the items to my car.  I asked if I could cut through his yard to get to my car instead of walking down the walkway, up the driveway, and then down the road a bit.  He said it was the bank’s yard now, and he didn’t care.

Uh, oh.  Suddenly, I felt guilty for not paying more, given that his house was in foreclosure. 

Like always, though, it passed. I can certainly empathize with his predicament, but I have my own mortgage to pay.

My next stop was an estate sale in a Victorian-mansion type house in an old-money part of town.  It was packed, even at 11 a.m. 

As I wandered through this beautiful house, full of exquisite and expensive antiques, furniture, and furnishings, I couldn’t help but feel that the owner, wherever he or she may be, probably would be sad to see his/her possessions (possessions that could have been passed down from generation to generation) sold off piece by piece, and carted off in pickup trucks.

I left empty handed, and a little sad myself, and decided to call it a day.


  1. It seems to me that the younger generations just want to liquidate their relatives' possessions into cash. Antiques and heirlooms don't appeal to them. I see that at the flea markets too. It's sad. Times are changing.

  2. Great deal on the comics. I agree with you though, they are hard to grade. I would have taken that deal any day though.