Sunday, July 26, 2015

Random Rant - Hagglers, Bake Sale Bashers And Price Sticker Thieves...Oh My!

I have a love hate relationship with hosting a yard sale. Yesterday we had our Bodacious Yard & Bake Sale. On a positive note, all went well. While we had to contend with early morning dew, the rest of the day was gorgeous. Sun. No rain. Very little humidity. We had a ton of stuff to put out. A friend of ours assisted from early morning through the evening. At the end of the day, another volunteer helped lug boxes down to the basement. We still have a ton of stuff left over for our October Yard & Bake Sale. No donations needed. All items are priced. That shaves off a copious amount of prep work.

On the other end of the stick, I realized my used-to-be-stellar customer service skills have tarnished beyond what I had already suspected over the years. We hosted 2 yard sales last year. My depleting social skills were obvious then. In fact, on both occasions, I may have added a splash of rum to my fruity beverage. Don't judge. It helped.

While I didn't resort to my boozy coping mechanism this time around, there was an unopened bottle of rum in our liquor cabinet. And, wine in the fridge. Just in case.

There have been no improvements this year. My ability to deal with the general public continues to spiral downward.  I don't hide it. Five minutes after waking up yesterday, before the hustle and bustle, I told Lisa, "I can't people today." Her reply, "I know. Take as many time-outs as you need to. There's rum in the cupboard and wine in the fridge."

I love her. She gets me.

In all fairness, my downward spiral of tolerance can't be entirely blamed on age, PMS, pre-menopausal symptoms, hunger, or my growing aversion to the human race (most, not all). People can be genuine assholes. While this is common knowledge, there are times and places where this quality radiates.

A yard sale is one of 'em...

One of the first things that comes to mind was an incident last year during our October yard and bake sale. While we do offer a good selection of homemade treats during our summer yard and bake sale, the one in October is more abundant. The temperatures are cooler. Very few limitations. Baked goods (whoopie pies, cream cheese filling, chocolate swizzle, etc) hold up.

Last October we had an entire table filled with homemade baked goods I had whipped up the day before. That morning, I made pumpkin doughnuts. I was mixing batter at 4 a.m. The doughnuts were fried around 6. Coated with a cinnamon sugar mix. Once cooled, they were packaged 5 per bag. Each bag was $4. That's the going rate for a bag of our baked goods. No one has ever complained...except that morning.

A gentleman picked up a bag of doughnuts and asked how much we wanted for them. I could feel my front teeth digging into my tongue. My facial muscles tightened. I already knew where this was going. And, Lisa knew what was happening just by the look on my face. She stepped in and told the man doughnuts were $4 a bag.

"Are you kidding me? Five doughnuts for $4? That's almost $1 a doughnut. I could go to the doughnut places down the street and get a better deal than that."

Lisa piped in explaining our doughnuts are homemade...fried fresh two hours ago and the proceeds were benefiting our local animals shelters.

Meanwhile, I was contemplating whether he was worth my first assault charge.

The man gave a disgusted look and threw the bag of doughnuts down. One broke. Thankfully the bags of doughnuts underneath weren't damaged. Lisa may have escorted me inside. I was fuming.

And that's just one example out of many. I'm convinced a yard sale inherently brings out the most annoying qualities of human nature...

1. Hagglers . The way my brain works is there's a distinct difference between a bargainer and haggler. It's no secret yard sale items are generally marked up slightly because people bargain. That's the fun of it. We've done it. Most of you have done it. You see an item you want for $12 and you offer $10 for it. Sure! No problem. You score a deal and they make money.

Hagglers are a whole other group of people. They'll offer you $6 for the $12 item. Or, if shirts are marked $2 each, they'll ask if they can get 4 shirts for $1. When you say no, they'll make a snarky comment and give you shit. Some may even stand there and argue.

Yesterday, I dealt with 2 hagglers. I stood my ground. Once they crossed my line, that was it. I assaulted them with my unedited tongue. They left. Good riddance.

2. Know-It-All's. This year, we received quite a few yard sale donations...all of which we are truly grateful for. Some of the items were collectibles. While I was able to spot these items, my knowledge of their value was minimal.  I spent hours researching. I find it fascinating, interesting and I don't view research as a tedious chore. When all was said and done, I had a fairly good idea. A few items I missed the mark. Some I didn't have time to research. Those items remained in a box and will be researched and offered at our October event.

I am fully aware my research doesn't replace "years of experience." However, it armed me with enough knowledge to deal with the know-it-all's. If you've ever had a yard sale and offered collectibles, antiques or other retro-ish items, you know the ones I'm talking about.

"The (insert item) marked a little high. You're not going to get $80 for it. How 'bout I give you $40?"

"No. It's marked reasonably."

"I could purchase that same item on eBay for around $50."

"Then...why don't you."

"Would you take $50 for it?"

"Nope. The lowest we'll go is $70."

"It's not going to sell."

At this point I have to walk away.

Is it too early for wine?

3. Price Sticker Thieves. We mark 90% of the items we put out. The exceptions are books and clothes. For those items, we make a sign featuring the price. We're fully aware, at times, a price sticker will fall off. However, there are a handful of people who will nonchalantly peel a price sticker off and proceed to ask, "How much do you want for this." Yesterday, I witnessed this. First time ever. My reply?

"The price is listed on the sticker you peeled off and put in your pocket?"

I got the look. Staring match. He left.

4. Bake Sale Bashers. Like with the disgruntled doughnut man, people are under the assumption a bake sale translates to "cheap baked goods." I can an extent. Bake sale tables are abundant and, often times, under-priced. That's fine if you're offering cupcakes from a box slathered with tub frosting or brownies from a box. However, if it's homemade, that's a whole other ballgame. Expect to pay more.

Quality ingredients aren't cheap. Homemade anything isn't cheap. While you can't put a price tag on time, you're going to pay for it a little bit. This is why my panties didn't get wadded up when I forked over $6 for 3 cookies at a recent visit to a local Farmer's Market. Experienced bakers, like myself, understand. It's like waitresses and waiters who eat out and tip better than the rest of us do.

All of this translates to...don't expect to pay fifty-cents for a decent sized, homemade pumpkin Whoopie Pie or a bag of homemade doughnuts. And if you think we'll offer you a lower price because you blatantly announce "you'll just go to Dunkin' Donuts for your doughnut fix..." not going to happen. Go. I'm not heartbroken nor do I give a shit.

5. Smooth Talkers. We had several collectible model cars displayed on a table. Four of 'em to be exact. Each was priced at $10. Early on, about ten minutes after we officially opened, a gentleman was interested in the cars and several other items. His total would have been $75. He offered $40 for everything.

"I'll take all of this off your hands for $40."

"I'm sorry I can't accept that amount. How about $60?"

"It's less you'll be stuck with at the end of the day..."

In my brain, his offer translated to "buy all the cars and get a shit-ton of other items for free...." There wasn't a sign posted offering free items if you spend a certain amount. I was not going to give away $35 worth of merchandise because he was buying the 4 collectible cars.

No deal was made. He didn't purchase the cars. Which, was fine. By the end of the day, they all sold. And, the other merchandise he wanted to get for free sold too. We didn't have to pack it up.

By the time 3 p.m. rolled around, we were whipped. Too much heat. Too much sun. However, we had a blast. Lots of laughs. That's what matters at the end of the day.

The cherry on top of the sundae, our friends bought us dinner that night. 

Have you hosted a yard sale? What are some of your pet-peeves?

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