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Junk in the Trunk

Life is never as simple as it should be.  Life in Reedsport is very nice. We’ve had a steady stream of guests since we moved in – which is a very nice change – to be able to host friends and catch up on old times in our own home.  The junking has been fairly dismal in coastal Oregon – there are several reasons for that, but the biggest seems to be that there are a huge number of retirees supplementing their income by doing what I do, people here are generally savvy to looking up items on ebay before pricing them at garage sales, and at least where we are – these are people who have already downsized and moved here from somewhere else. Also, there just aren’t as many people here – so there aren’t as many estate sales – i.e. there aren’t as many children of deceased parents trying to get rid of as much junk as they can in the shortest possible time so they can go home.

Here’s an example of the difficulty – books – in Sacramento, it was fairly easy to buy a big box of books for $5 or less and then to take it to a bookstore and pull $25-$30 out of it. At the bookstore, you could find books for ten cents to a dollar and sometimes even pull out a first edition that could be resold on eBay for $100. Not so, here. The books tend to be priced $1 and up at the sales. The local bookstore no longer buys books. When I asked about old books and first editions, the owner told me he combs through and pulls them all but won’t sell them. A closed loop.

So, that’s the junking here – still, as I mentioned before – I’ve got a huge amount of very sellable stuff – the hard part is selling it. I’ve used ebay for a long time but never on the scale I am using it now – I’m learning a lot.  First of all – just because an item has sold for a price doesn’t mean that it will sell for that price again – there might have been one person looking for that glass net float who was willing to pay that price – but they already have one. In general, everything I list has sold before for higher prices than I’ve listed it – but at the moment, I’m selling about 15% of what I list and usually at 50% or less of what it sold for before. I’m not sure if that is because there are so many thousands of new listings every second or if people just aren’t buying as much as before.

Baseball cards are a great example. I’ve listed hundreds of baseball cards at less than 50% of book value – I haven’t sold a single one. It’s a great time to buy baseball cards, but there is no guarantee you will ever be able to sell them. Books have also become much harder to sell on ebay – perhaps it’s because everyone goes to Amazon for books – but since I tend to focus on funky, collectible books – I really want the auction format – but, hey, it’s not working.

What am I selling? Most of my sales are of old models of airplanes and 35mm camera equipment and vintage shaving gear along with the random chotskies or dishes. The camera gear is sold mostly to people in other countries. Ebay is fairly saturated and as you drive up and down Highway 101 you see a couple of types of businesses over and over – junk/antique shops, low end restaurants, and low end motels.

I haven’t given up, but I am a bit discouraged. At the end of the day – this is working – I can support us with it – but it’s not as much fun as it used to be. Perhaps a part of all that is that Hanane’s job has become a bit of a pain in my ass – initially, we had agreed that a part time job was a great idea for her to earn a little extra – after we were settled in – but her job came up and she jumped at it.  Almost immediately, her boss began to move her to full time – and – while she is willing to help with expenses – it’s my work that pays the bills – but now I find myself as a full time baby-always-with-me Dad who loves it but still has to be able to do my work of web development, finding new junk by digging through boxes at sales, and listing, packaging, selling, and shipping items. I can do it – but I feel a bit as if every responsibility has been dumped on me and there is no one offering any support. I pay the bills, I do the shopping, I earn our living, I take care of our daughter, I do my work, I do everything – including help my wife navigate her new working life – and now she has been promoted to Assistant Manager which probably means I have even less hours to enjoy being on the Oregon coast with my family and no time at all for myself – I’m with the baby all day trying to do my work and my wife gets home and doesn’t feel like it’s her job to take responsibility and give me a break – same goes for her days off.  And – she still feels it’s my responsibility to pay for everything. One would think that on her days off, I would be free to work or take some me time – but that’s not really the case – now those are family days or her rest days.  I’m proud of her for working so hard – but I’m beginning to feel a bit like a heel. If she were paying the rent, for groceries, the utility bills, gas, or giving me spending money – I would be quite happy to be a full time Dad – but that’s not how it goes. There will have to be some readjustment at some point.

On the positive side – spending so much time with my daughter is a total delight and I’m so honored and proud to see her development and growth. I know that I am largely responsible for who she is becoming. I don’t want to turn that over to strangers in daycare or preschool until she reaches the point that she can talk with us.

This is the most writing I’ve been able to do in weeks but now the baby has woke up. In the meantime – I’ve got junk in the trunk.