Friday, May 3, 2013

Like ants to a picnic

Let us in, let us in ... it's raining outside
The local Friends of the Library (FOL) Old Book Sale is the social event of the literary season, attracting book dealers like ants to a picnic.  Thursday’s brouhaha was no different, with sellers lining up three hours early, braving rain showers, just to get a low number to enter the building probably no more than 90 seconds earlier than the last person in line.

I was one of those sellers, having arrived around 7 a.m.   My early bird strategy resulted in Nos. 4 and 5 for me and Ella.  By 10 a.m., the line had grown to more than 100+ dealers, and when the doors finally opened, FOL volunteers scurried to get out of the way as the horde of locusts, I mean book lovers, scurried and jockeyed for position among the rows and rows of potential income.

As usual, I headed toward the religion section, seeing as how we’re in the Bible Belt, plus it usually has less competition at first since most dealers head toward the potentially more lucrative business, technical, and computer sections.  Ella made a beeline to the media.  As the room filled up, it became almost impossible to turn around without bumping into someone with a scanner in hand, and by 12:30ish, the check-out line stretched the length of the building, and the place looked like a disaster area.  To their credit, though, FOL volunteers swooped in immediately, and began straightening the mess that we dealers made.

We left around 1 p.m., with two rolling totes full.  I didn’t find any home runs, per se, but left with enough sellable books to make taking the day off work worthwhile. 

This morning, I spoke with an FOL official who said that the first-day total, a benchmark that they always celebrate, was about $1000 less than the first day last year.  It was still good money for the group, though, but I imagine it is still worrisome to them.

On a semi-related subject, while waiting in line on Thursday, I learned that the USPS has started “repossessing” their nice plastic totes from sellers who are using them at book sales.  One seller related the story of being threatened with arrest by an officer at the scene if he didn’t relinquish his totes to the postal official charged with collecting the boxes. Your local post office may have a different attitude, but it’s something to think about before you bring a stack to a sale.

As for the weekend, rain may wash out most of the scheduled yard/garage sales, but there are at least eight church yard sales in the area that hopefully won’t be affected by the wet stuff.  We’re getting a lot of rain lately, and while I shouldn’t complain, it does affect my business.

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