Categories
America money

My Last Oregon Garage Sale – God Willing

I used to love having garage sales. It was fun to let stuff go and meet who was taking it while making a little money at the same time. I think all of that changed when we moved to a small Oregon town with a depressed economy. Here, and probably in many other parts of the United States, there are a large number of people who rely on garage sales to survive – they are pensioners, unemployed, housewives, and thrift shop owners, flea marketers, ebayers, antique dealers, and still, once in a while – someone just looking for something that will make them smile that they prefer not to pay full price for. That level of necessity changes the intensity of a sale. There is a dog-eat-dog competitiveness which in some cases determines whether someone will eat or at the very least – whether their food is quality or off the McDonalds $1 menu (which is no longer a $1 menu but a $1.69 or $2 menu).

Then there are the people who shop with their phones – comparing prices on Ebay and Amazon with my prices. Things just aren’t worth very much when just about anything can be had for $20 and shipping. We are in the process of getting rid of virtually everything – and not surprisingly – it’s hard. After two days of a garage sale with decent but not great stuff – I filled our utility trailer to overflow for a dump run and have ten boxes that will go to charity. That’s stage one. Next stage is to do a total estate liquidation sale and of course to empty our shop. This last weekend was the citywide sale here in our town – there was a lot of competition to get stuff in people’s hands. After two days, my wife and I were done – we packed it all in. Unfortunately, the little town we are in makes having a sale incredibly difficult. You can’t be on commercial or industrial or dual zoned land – which we are. You can’t be a person who makes a living selling second hand goods, which I do. You have to get a permit – which due to the previous two conditions, I am unable to get for our house. And then there is the rain. This is the Oregon Coast. Everything got rained on yesterday despite a forecast of clear and sunny. Yuck.

Anyway, that was step one. It was hopefully, the last garage sale I will have in Oregon. Our next sales will be store liquidation and then total estate liquidation – these tend to be better because they are indoors and you can command higher prices and sell a better quality of items. This weekend’s sale was enough to pay off a credit card bill – and we got rid of a lot of crap we didn’t need – so it was a success. Thank God.

Categories
assholes

I hate having garage sales – a pointless rant

Before anyone tells me not to have a garage sale if I hate having them – let me point out that this is exactly what I’m doing by writing this – reminding myself of – not to have garage sales in the future.

Here’s the thing – I enjoy going to garage sales – but having one of our own is a bummer that I forget about until I’m in the midst of setting it up or dealing with the cheapos and wack jobs that show up for such things. They show up early, they make offers that are insulting (Will you take a nickel for this?) and in general – I’m pretty sure that giving all this stuff to charity for a tax write off is the better option – so let’s hope I remember this the next time I consider having a yard sale or garage sale.

Yes, there are some nice people and yes, we usually end up making a fair amount of money – but the days usually start off bad with people ignoring the signs or free listings on craigslist which say 8 am, no earlybirds – and before we get the chance to set up we have people going into our garage or opening up boxes without so much as a by your leave.

Then there are the old ladies with thier nickel and dimes and even worse the younger ladies or men with their nickels or dimes. Look, I’m a picker – I look for bargains – but I never offer less than a dollar and usually pay the price people are asking. I’ll make offers on high priced things but they are reasonable and respectful offers – and I never argue with someone about what their stuff is worth. I make an offer with a smile and maybe an explanation and then they either take it or not – and usually, we’re both still smiling. The creeps that come to my sales will try to tell me that I don’t know what something is worth and when I tell them that I own an antique shop and do frequent appraissals – they sometimes go so far as to tell me I don’t know my business. This is the point I tell them that they should leave before we have a serious problem.

A guy today tried to tell me he could buy a new gas powered weed eater for $40 at Walmart. I pulled out my phone and showed him that they are actually $138.47 – a woman asked me how much for an old mill saw blade – I told her $10 and she said “I was thinking more of a dollar” – I told her “You can give me your dollar as a donation, but the blade stays here for any less than $10” at which point another lady handed me $10 – little did I know that my wife had just agreed to sell it to her for $15 – but that’s fair game.

The early birds piss me off as a picker, a seller, and as a human being. My ads and signs clearly state 8am, no early birds – and yet people still roll up at 6:30 and sometimes knock on the door to ask if they can look early…these same guys are doing the same things to other sellers and when i show up at the listed time – the good stuff is usually gone – nice guys finish last – what kind of world is this?

Estate sales are a different story – you set a time and lock the door, let the crowd build and work themselves up to a fever pitch then let them in an entry point and have a controlled exit where they can line up and pay for their purchases…no questions, no b.s. – everything is the price it is marked until the last day then it’s half price – of course, my friends that run estate sales tell horror stories about that too…

It’s the cheapohs – crabs at the bottom of the bucket trying to suck all the same shit and clawing each other to do it – next time – I’ll donate it if I can’t sell it on ebay or craigslist…

 

Categories
America Me Work

Reedsport Life

I’ve moved my family from North Africa to Turkey back to North Africa to California and now to Reedsport, Oregon. From here, I’m not planning on moving my family again. Sure, life in the USA isn’t as great as it once was, the days of children having more opportunity than their parents have never existed for me, but I hope they will exist for my daughter.

We have a nice life here. I’ve rented us a pretty house with a pretty yard, a nice garage, plenty of space in a nice neighborhood. Somehow, we’ve filled our little house up with nice things that make us comfortable and happy. We have everything we need – luckily, neither Hanane nor I need to have a lot of friends around all the time. She is happy to talk to her family and friends on Skype when she isn’t working and I’m happy to have the chance to hang out with Sophia, cruise around exploring the area, and once in a while to have an interesting conversation at a shop or a garage sale.

It’s nice that we have friends that will come visit and it’s nice that we live in a beautiful place where people will want to come visit. I am staggered by the beauty of this place. Equally amazing is the fact that this is a dying town – there are 4000 people in Reedsport and most of t hem are senior citizens who live in RVs and come for the good weather and leave with the bad. There are a dozen mediocre restaurants and dozens of empty shops and storefronts both in the old downtown and in the new. This town lived on timber and mills and those days are gone. There is no industry here.

But there should be – I’ve been all over the world and there are few places that have floored me the way this area has. Twenty miles south is Coos Bay and North Bend with cute little downtown shops, a nice bay, and many of the same problems we face here, but with a more diverse population. Twenty miles north is Florence where the snowbirds have built RV colonies   like Florentine Estates where every house has an RV barn. Both are good sized towns with healthy tourist industries. In  between are Reedsport, Gardiner, and Winchester Bay and forty miles of the most scenic lakes and forest of the Oregon coast along with the Smith River, the Umpqua River, the Siuslaw River and streams and ponds beyond mention. Tahkenitch Lake, Ten-Mile Lake, Siltcoos Lake, Woahink Lake, Clear Lake, Eel Lake, Saunders Lake, Beal Lake, Snag Lake, Spirit Lake, Horsefall Lake, Bluebill Lake, Three mile lake, Elbow Lake – and just in case you forgot – Unger Bay, Winchester Bay, Umpqua Beach, the Oregon Dunes. Yeah, the Oregon dunes – the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in the North America. Frank Herbert was inspired to write Dune by being here!

This is my backyard! And it’s populated by pensioners and retirees. I am literally in the vacation wonderland of the Pacific Coast – sure – this isn’t a winter sports or surf mecca – but it is a fishing, hunting, motorcycling, hiking, bird watching elk watching, canoeing, kayaking, horse back riding (Dean Creek has two of the largest Elk Herds on the west coast and viewing areas where you can watch them year round). It’s not unusual for me to see elk, seals, salmon, crabs, deer, or countless birds every day.

The down side is that the garage saling here is definitely not as good as in San Francisco or Sacramento – the retirees live in RVs and have mostly already gotten rid of the junk I like to find and sell and in a rural place – people tend to value their junk a bit higher – but, that’s a small price to pay. The truth is I amassed a nice horde in California that it will probably take me a while to sell anyway (check out Vago’s Treasures). And besides, if I’m going to do this for a living – it’s more fun to go on missions to different places for great sales and rare finds anyway.

So, that’s the reason why there is no one here but me, my family, the retirees, and a few people I haven’t met or figured out yet.  No jobs, no industry. But, the schools are good but small without crowded classrooms, the people are friendly, the crime is almost non-existent, and I’m loving it. My goal though – is to become the tourist bureau for Reedsport. Hell, maybe if i succeed at that, I’ll even become the mayor. To start all that out, I’ve bought a couple of domains for Reedsport, Oregon – coming soon.

Categories
America Work

No Se Pickers – Yo Se Pickers

I know pickers. Man, I know a lot of pickers. I know glass pickers, gun pickers, fishing pickers, fish pickers, antique pickers, advertising pickers, and toy pickers. I know nose pickers, too. No se pickers? I know pickers. I read about the economy of the USA and how jobs have increased but those jobs are mostly part time or less than average pay at a time when prices are higher than ever for gas, food, rent, and homes. All of that has led to a huge number of people turning to non-traditional ways to make money – among them, working online with blogs, websites, and online business along with pickers doing some serious picking.

I’ve been helping friends with garage sales and holding a few garage sales of our own as we get ready to move and I can tell you that the first twenty people to any garage sale are pickers that are either wheeling and dealing on their own, own a shop, or sell the stuff on Ebay. As a matter of fact, most of the rest of the people who hit garage sales are selling on Ebay, Amazon, or Craigslist too. While almost all of them complain about the rising cost of things at g-sales, due to g-salers using Ebay to look up prices, I would say that there has probably never been a better time to be a picker.

The reason? Baby boomers were hoarders of the cool stuff their parents left them and they are dropping off like flies now. In addition, those boomers whose parent’s still were alive, are mostly dying right now too. It’s sad, for everyone – everyone except the pickers who are loving it. On the table are vintage antiques from the 1890s to the 1940s plus tons of the ultra-hot Mid-Century Modern furniture, Modern Danish furniture, and incredible Mid-Century glass, ceramics, and decorative items.

Ebay and shows like American Pickers, Pawn Stars, and Storage Wars may have encouraged millions of out of work Americans to join the picker force thus making the picking more competitive and educated sellers about what they have so they don’t give it away, but is that very terrible? Not really. The reason is that the internet and those shows have also made millions more collectors and the education of sellers is a good thing – unless you think it’s cool to pay struggling families low dollar values for high-end items. Personally, I don’t think that’s cool at all.  I’ve always tried to be fair when I buy stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t say – “Hey, I think I can sell this for $100 so maybe you should charge me more…” but I do say “Hey, this thing might be valuable – are you sure you want to sell it for a dollar?” and a couple of times “Hey, don’t sell this before you check it out.” It was painful a few times..I found a signed Hawaiian Ukulele from the 1920s that was for sale for $100 and insisted that the owners check it out – It was worth nearly $12,000!  I  really wanted that Uke, but I couldn’t afford the higher price…still, I don’t think I could have afforded the bad karma from knowing I was stealing it either.

Still, I have ended up with some amazing bargains. Most of the time, people just want cash in hand and since there are so many pickers and collectors out there now – there is a market for just about anything cool you might buy. I bought a monkey wrench for $8 yesterday at a thrift store (by the way, no need to tell thrift stores that something is valuable) – it’s selling online for nearly $100 – but I’m not worried if I don’t sell it – it’s a working monkey wrench! I love that…btw…never mind Old McDonald sitting on a fence – I’ve washed it…

Anyway, it’s a picker, collector, and seller heaven right now – which is funny, because aside from that, nobody seems to have any money at all.