Last week, I mentioned that a curious question asked of Mary Chapin Carpenter was something I could relate to. No, I’ve never performed on stage, but…
Forty years ago, we purchased some custom furniture from a small shop in upstate New York. A year later, we moved that furniture to Seattle, Washington and we continued moving it from apartment to apartment three times in three years. When we decided to move back east, we didn’t want to pay to move that furniture again. We decided to have a tag-sale. I was put in charge.
I took out an ad in the Seattle Times listing a few specific items (a drafting table and stool, bookcases, etc.) and “custom furniture” for sale at rock-bottom prices.
The first few customers were wonderful. They almost allayed my fears of having a tag-sale – dealing with the public, negotiating and stuff like that. The drafting table and stool were scarfed-up immediately for the asking price. I had bought them for cheap, so I was ahead of the game. Next were two sets of bookshelves that I had made. The woman thought they were unique, interesting and well-made. I was very happy.
Then they arrived.
A mother and her adult daughter.
The adult daughter was interested in the coffee table and the end tables. The end tables were octagonal, with four open sides and the coffee table was a rectangle with rounded corners supported by two octagonal pedestals on a short base.
The mother insisted that the daughter didn’t have room for both end tables and offered to buy the coffee table and one end table. I refused. My goal was to get rid of everything, and I thought my best chance was to sell those as a set. Thus, began the following negotiation session, primarily with the mother:
“How much for the coffee table and one end table?”
“The three pieces are a set. I’m asking $150.”
“How about $75 for the coffee table and one end table?”
“No. $150 for the set. I’ll throw in the lamps if you want them.”
“The lamps are hideous.”
“Mom, I really like the tables and I like the lamps. $150 is a good price for custom-made furniture. The tables are custom-made, aren’t they?”
“Yes, all the pine furniture was custom-made in upstate New York.”
“Well, you can tell somebody MADE this stuff.”
“Look lady, God didn’t come back on the eighth day to create furniture. Somebody made everything.”
“We’ll give you $100 for the coffee table, one end table and one lamp.”
“The sale is over. None of this is for sale, just get out.”
I walked over to one of our neighbors. Their house was identical to ours. The man had previewed the sale, but said he just couldn’t afford anything. I offered to give him the furniture if he would help me move it out, and if he would take the couch and chair.
He happily agreed. We moved the furniture to his house, he bought me lunch and I’ve never had a tag sale since.
This post is part of Linda G.Hill’s fun weekly challenge One-Liner Wednesday. I know, it was way more than one line, but at least I split the story into two parts. Follow this link to see one-liners from all the participants.
The gallery includes some of my woodworking projects. You may see these again in a post about how they were made, so consider this a preview.