Saturday, February 6, 2010

Everybody's happy.

In the past, when I've found items that I know are valuable and the seller doesn't, I felt guilty. I felt like I was pulling off a heist.

I don't feel that way any more.

I've determined that the seller is happy to receive the amount they're asking for their item. I'm happy because I purchased something of value for a fraction of actual worth. And when I resell the item at an astounding profit, the buyer is happy because they've found just what they were looking for, and are pleased to pay the price.

A few years ago, after dropping my son off at school, I walked to a garage sale right down the block. Almost immediately, I found a beautiful Van Briggle vase.

The person who owned the garage where the garage sale took place wanted fifty cents for the vase.

I dug some change out of my purse, and poof. The Van Briggle was mine.

I sold it for almost $300.

Recently, when we were in Oregon, Mr. Fabulous and I stopped at an indoor flea market. It was like a garage sale, with individuals who most likely purchased table space setting up their garage sale merch.

I struck up a conversation with a grandmotherly woman who was selling books, knick-knacks and her own home made fudge. I bought some chocolate fudge, four pieces for a dollar, and she told me all about how she'd won a cooking contest using this very fudge recipe, when she was in her 20s. She told me that when she tasted something, she could intuit the ingredients and replicate any recipe, just by her keen sense of taste.

The fudge was delicious.

While I was chatting with her, of course I was looking at the other items she was selling. She had a Julia Child Art of French Cooking cookbook in her pile of books, with a price tag of 7.50 slapped on the side. She said the book was nice but unnecessary in her world. It was clutter.

I asked her if she'd take $5. She agreed, and she was happy. So happy that, when I'd left her table, she offered her last bag of peanut butter fudge to me. Of course I took it. It's only polite.

When I got home, I sold the 1965 edition of The Art of French Cooking for $75.

The grandmotherly woman was happy to have cleaned out the cookbook shelf in her kitchen. I was happy to have met this memorable person, happy to have heard her endearing stories, happy to have eaten her delectable fudge, happy to have purchased a cookbook that, to her, was just taking up space.

And there are many other stories of mutual happiness. One in particular sticks with me - I went to a thrift store that's generally run on consignment. It had several pieces of pottery of which I was unfamiliar. It was Buffalo Pottery Deldareware, and there were a bunch of pieces.

I didn't know anything about Deldareware, and I took a total leap when I bought every piece for $50.

When I got home and did a bit of research, I realized I'd walked into what was, for me, a gold mine.

Long story short, I sold those pieces for a profit of somewhere around $2,000.

The store owner was most likely happy to have unloaded some items that day. The person who consigned the pieces was glad to have had the money I'd paid. And the people who bought the pieces from me were happy, because they bought pieces of American history.

So there's no need for me to feel guilty. Everyone got what they wanted. Every link in the chain of acquisition was happy.

Who could ask for more than that?

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