Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Getting all chit chatty

Last week, I debated the merits of attending the preview party at a local Friends of the Library (FOL) book sale, and paying $100 for the privilege of purchasing 48 books. I ultimately decided not to attend the party, and waited until Saturday to attend the sale, fully expecting to find squat.

The good news is that I actually found a few items missed by the hordes of rabid book dealers; the bad news is that I’ve never seen so many penny books in one spot in my life.  The interesting news is that I was “harassed” by a lady with a broken foot in a cast, rolling down the narrow aisles in a wheelchair.

I’ll preface my comments by saying that the sale obviously is open to everyone, but no special consideration is given to people with handicaps other than the room being accessible.  To me, though, common sense dictates that certain situations, like a crowded room with narrow aisles crammed not only with people, but also with boxes, shopping carts, and rolling totes, just aren’t handicapped friendly.  

Despite the apparent obstacles, this lady was determined to look at the books, and had no problem with using her wheelchair, intentionally or unintentionally, as a battering ram, clearing her way up and down each row. It would have been humorous had she not run into my tote and leg while trying to get up close and personal with the small section of books that I was looking at.  I tried to ignore her intrusion, but she decided to get all chit chatty.

“I’m interested in that thing on your belt,” she said. 

When I’m at a sale, I try to stay focused, and while I heard what she asked, I tried to ignore her as I finished scanning the books in front of me.

“Is it a computer?”  Apparently, she was not to be ignored.

“This thing?” I asked, holding up my Dell Axim PDA that I use to scan the books.

“Yeah, what is it?”

“It’s a Dell Axim.”

“What does Axim mean?”

“It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just a name.”

She still seemed befuddled, so against my better judgment, I elaborated.

“Do you have a Dell computer?”

“I have lots of computers,” she replied.

“Good for you,” I replied. “Dell names their computers, like the Latitude.  They named this one “Axim.”

Thankfully, she understood that.  “What does it do? Is it like an old PDA?”

Getting a little annoyed now by her incessant questions, I gave her my practiced spiel about being a book collector, and using the Axim to help me choose the books to buy.

“You know, my phone can do that, too,” she said a little too boastfully as she held up her smartphone.

“Yes, I know.  My phone can, too.”

“I can even use the camera on the phone to scan the books in case I want to sell them,” she bragged, again seeming confident that shared a great secret with me.

“There you go,” I said, turning away from her, and I started looking at the books again.

At that point, I think she realized that she would get no more conversation, so she pinballed on down the row, thankfully away from me.

Of course, this wasn’t the first time that I had an encounter with a handicapped person.  At a different FOL sale, a crowd, including me, was milling around the membership table, trying hurriedly to purchase admission.  As I stood there, jockeying for position, a woman loudly announced, “you had better NOT step on my foot.”

Looking around, I noticed a woman on crutches, foot in a cast, standing next to me. Apparently, this woman wanted to buy admission like the rest of us, and had willingly put herself in the restless crowd despite her disability.  While I admired her pluck, I suddenly had no sympathy for her plight, given her tone and the loudness thereof.

“Move your foot, then,” I said as I stepped up to the table.

Obviously, I didn’t make a friend that day.

Have a productive week.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Decisions, decisions

A local Friends of the Library (FOL) organization is holding their annual book sale this week in conjunction with the Cherry Blossom Festival.  It opens at 10 a.m. on Thursday, and since the sale is fairly large, book dealers and dedicated readers start forming the line early.  I usually skip this sale because I have to work, but it always pains me to miss this money making opportunity. 

Every year, though, the FOL hosts a three-hour Preview Party, complete with refreshments, for members, who are allowed to buy books before the horde of locusts, I mean booksellers, descend upon the rows of coveted tomes.  Of course, there’s a catch.  There are different levels of membership, and each level can only buy only a certain number of books. 

From the FOL website:

The level of membership will determine the number of books a member may purchase at the Preview Party. A Student ($10) or Individual ($25) Member is entitled to purchase as many as 12 books. A Patron/Couple ($50) may purchase 24 books and a Benefactor ($100) may purchase 48 books. Members are welcome to bring their own totes or boxes if desired.

I’ve been trying to do the math (not one of my strong points) to determine if purchasing a Benefactor membership would be worth the time, effort, and money.  By joining at that level, I already would be $100 in the red.  Ella and I would have to pick out 48 re-sellable books, each costing between $1 and $4.  An average price of $2.50 per book would put us another $120 (48 X $2.50) in the red, for a total of $220.  To break even, each of the 48 books would have to be worth at least $5. 

The name of the game is profit, though.  Breaking even doesn’t cover our time or our gas costs. To make money, each of the books would have to be worth at least $10.  Now, I’m sure there will be plenty of $10 books there, but I’m also sure that I am not the only dealer who has this idea, and while there will be decreased competition at the Preview Party, I am confident there will others looking for those $10 books.

Just for the record, I also know that the membership fee is tax deductible, which helps a little at the end of the year, but not so much when writing a check in March.

I’ve been waffling about this for several days now.  Is $100 too much money to spend just to attend a sale, with no guarantee of success, or should I just be confident that I will find enough high-dollar books to make it worthwhile?

Decisions, decisions.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Elvis, an antebellum house, and the tale of two sofas

The Cherry Blossom Festival opened in Macon this past weekend, and as part of the event’s free musical offerings, an Elvis impersonator performed Friday night.  Ella insisted that we attend since the price was right (free), so we sat and watched “Elvis” sing and strut his stuff much to the delight of the ladies in the crowd.  Toward the end of the show, he mentioned that he would be signing autographs and selling CDs after his last number.

Huh?  An Elvis impersonator selling CDs?  My question is why would anyone pay $15 for a CD of an Elvis impersonator when they could buy a real Elvis CD off Amazon for around $4?

I pondered that question for a bit, but never could come up with a good answer.
Elsewhere in my little corner of the world, we went to yard sales on Saturday morning, which, for the most part, were disappointing.  The highlight, though, was an estate sale in one of Macon's largest antebellum homes.  I actually was excited about seeing the inside of this beautiful home, which I had only seen from the road while growing up in Macon. 
This antebellum house looks good from the road; up close, not so much
Excitement, though, turned to disbelief when I got to see the house up close.  The house was extremely run down, with peeling paint on the columns, water stains on the porch roof, and uneven floors throughout.  Buyers didn’t get to see the upstairs, but I imagine it was just as bad upstairs as down.  I bought a few things, but walked away unimpressed with this historic house.

At another estate sale, I picked up about 10 vintage automobile books.  I also scanned a book about French furniture, and almost dropped my scanner when it showed a price of $175.  I quickly added that book to my pile.  It’s a cliché, but you really can’t judge a book by its cover.

The rest of my free time over the weekend was spent either listing, or trying to help Ella pick out a new couch. She’s torn between two difference sofas, and like a good husband, I’m leaving the decision totally up to her so she can’t blame me if she doesn’t like the one she ends up with.
Have a great week everyone.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Just'a good ol' boys … never meanin’ no harm.

Just'a good ol' boys
Never meanin' no harm.
Beats all you never saw
Been in trouble with the law
Since the day they was born

Most of you probably are familiar with the Dukes of Hazzard, a cute little late 1970s TV show featuring Bo, Luke, and Daisy Duke set in fictional Hazzard County, Georgia. It ran from 1979 to 1985, but that customized 1969 Dodge Charger stock car, named The General Lee, has been racing through reruns ever since.

This past weekend, all the surviving Dukes plus assorted main characters gathered for the Dukes of Hazzard Georgia Reunion right down the road from my house at the Middle Georgia Speedway, an abandoned racetrack.  The lure of hobnobbing with the stars was too much for Ella, who plunked down $70 of my hard-earned thrifting money to purchase weekend tickets for the both of us.  For that $70, we got the chance to listen to a few concerts; walk around the track and look at umpteen dozen real “General Lee’s”; buy $9 turkey legs; and pay to get autographs from the Dukes.

A multitude of General Lee's, Hazzard County Sheriff cars and other custom cars circled the track

To put a thrifting spin on the weekend, I had researched what Dukes of Hazzard autographs were selling for on Ebay, and figured, depending on what the stars were charging for signing their names, I might could eke out a small profit on some memorabilia.  However, my hopes were dashed when we arrived.

Each star had his/her own section of a tent, and Duke stalkers … uh … fans could buy a photograph and have it autographed for between $10 and $20.  I calculated the total cost of autographs vs. final sale prices on Ebay, and still thought I could make it work.  However, I had not factored in the crowds.

Yes, it was crowded on Saturday.  Organizers said about 60,000 tickets had been sold, and I think most of them were in the autograph lines.  It took four hours of standing in the hot sun just to get Catharine Bach’s (Daisy’s) autograph.  Ella had staked out a spot in John Schneider’s (Bo’s) line, and we both got our autographs roughly at the same time.  I think there were at least 400 people at any given time in each stars' line throughout the afternoon.

Ella is waiting patiently for Bo Duke's autograph.   She was about halfway to the stars' tents with as many people behind her as in front of her.  I was a little closer to Daisy at this point.
Daisy still looks ravishing, but angered the crowd when she took an hour lunch break with close to 400 people, including me, still waiting for an autograph

We left after that four-hour ordeal, tired, hungry and sun burnt, deciding to try our luck on Sunday morning for the remaining autographs.  I gave up on the autographs for cash idea, and decided to just enjoy the weekend, even if I did look and feel like a lobster.

We got there earlier on Sunday, and the lines at first were sparse.  Ella was able to get autographs from Tom Wopat (Luke), Sonny Shroyer (Enos), Rick Hurst (Cletus), and James Best (Rosco P. Coltraine) in about an hour. She then hit the line for Ben Jones (Cooter), and waited for two hours.  Cooter, it seems, was giving away autographs, instead of selling them, and everyone wanted their freebie.

After getting Cooter’s autograph, we wandered around the track, bought some pork rinds, and left.  We wanted to listen to some music, but there wasn’t a bit of shade, and I was not going to sit or stand in the sun for any longer.

Overall, it was a busted weekend from a thrifting standpoint, but Ella enjoyed herself, and got plenty of pictures and autographs to share with all her chat/Facebook buddies.

As for me, I’m glad Ella had a good time, but I need to start spending some serious weekend time on my online business as the weather gradually warms up.

Have a great week.