Monday, August 18, 2014

Cowboy Down - A Conversation Between Two Professional Thrift Shoppers - Part One - "Cowboy THAT"

(This photograph shows a sign in front of a thrift store
The sign means “bag sale today”
A bag sale is a thrift shop sale practice of allowing the filling of a
Whole bag for a flat dollar price
Of, like,
Two bucks
Many thrift shop shoppers cannot read English
Hence the ‘brown bag’ sign as the sale symbol.)

Cowboy Down

A Conversation Between Two Professional Thrift Shoppers

Part One

"Cowboy THAT"

            “Ok; let us SIT and go at it.  We’re just gonna TALK like always and we won’t care to be too organized.  We don’t want that and we CAN’T do that anyway because we never talk that way.  And we’re too stupid to care.  So... I’ll just explain when I think we need to so... let’s just start”.

            “Let’s... With ‘cowboy down’; that’s you; yours.  How’s that; we’ll tell’em that first.”
            “WELL... it’s... well... its FIRST meaning... is my sort of battle cry.  When I go into a thrift shop I’m gonna ‘cowboy down’.”
            “Meaning your gonna BUY GOOD.”
            “Yes; get out of the way here I come”.
            “So ‘cowboy down’ is your attitude about buying when you go into a thrift store”.
            “So I better say right here that this; going to thrift stores and buying, is what you do professionally, is the ONLY buying that you do professionally and that you’ve been doing this a long time.  How long?”
            Oh... twenty... twenty-five... 1990... 1985... years... at least.”
            “Just thrift shops”
            “Just thrift shops.”
            “So ‘cowboy down’ is your in-the-door buyer attitude and that’s been that all day, every day for, well, decades”.
            “And you ARE an antiques dealer by trade; you buy and sell antiques.”
            “Sell antiques but BUY thrift shop”.
            “Buy thrift shop?”
            “Junk; just like you do; buy the stuff that they think is junk but is actually good antiques”.

            “And you sell that how; doing the antiques shows.  I know you do a lot of those.
            “That’s what I do the most of.  That’s where I sell the most.  I do ebay now too.”
            “So you sell the junk you buy at thrift shops as antiques at antiques shows”.
            “That’s pretty much it.”
            “And you’ve been doing that for twenty-five years at least.”
            “And you like it and do well at it... no problem from what I’ve seen.”
            “Yes... it is good; works out well.”

            “Ok right here I gotta say that you’re a woman; a middle aged woman, married, children still around sort of.  That’s fair.”
            “That’s fair”.
            “Your husband likes what you do.”
            “So now, just to expand, we’ll say your OTHER meaning of ‘cowboy down’.  Now that means what?
            “Well... when one of ‘em buys something, thinks it’s good then asks me what I think and I tell ‘em it’s junk and when they want to know what that means I say ‘cowboy down’ meaning they have, as a dealer, made a mistake and are gonna loose money on what they bought”.
            “OK... ‘they’ is another thrift shop shopper that you know...
            “Sort of know”.
            “... and they think they’ve made a hit (bought something good cheap) and you tell’em ‘no way’ and they... you call ‘em cowboys because they’re so cock sure of themselves... are gonna LOOSE money”.
            “And a cowboy is man or woman.
            “So who is one?  Can you say one?”

            “Well... OK, so... like... Flat Rate...”
            “Flat Rate... I’ll explain; he’s a what... PAINTING dealer who we see all the time in the thrift stores buying crummy paintings that you’ve gotten to know so, well, talk with each other about, well, the paintings he gets and you...
            “He DOESN’T KNOW what he’s doing.  HE doesn’t know ANYTHING about PAINTINGS.”
            “Right so...”
            “I call him FLAT RATE because ALL the paintings he buys look the same to him and are crap; no good.  He NEVER gets a good painting or would know a good one if he DID get one or have a CHANCE to get one because he doesn’t know anything about painting”.

            “OK, so... he ‘cowboy downs’ all the time and you tell him that.”
            “Yes.  OR I just SEE him ‘cowboy down’ (buy bad).  Otherwise... I don’t think I’ve EVER done anything else with him except buy a GOOD painting that he was too stupid to buy.  And then I tell him to ‘cowboy THAT’.”
            “Your very patient and nice to him I know.”
            “I’m telling him the truth.  Just because a painting is cheap doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck.  Flat Rate thinks cheap makes it (a painting) good.”
            “Now you yourself buy a lot of painting in thrift shops that DO actually suck but you sell them pretty good”.
            “Yes but that’s the painting market.  The fine arts market.  I mean, you know... FINE... ARTS...:  F.-ARTS; farts.  Ha, Ha:  That market.”
            OK so that market we both know... is NOT a ‘good’ painting market meaning a true good painting by a true good artist but is a sort of low rent junk painting market of PAINTINGS by SIGNED.... LISTED... ARTISTS... that, ah... well... are pretty much promoted (promoted paintings and artists) by (self promoting) dealers who are fine art dealers by business card name (often with stores; galleries) who WE can sell, well, these stupid paintings and artwork we buy at thrift stores, to them.  We do this all the time because?

            “YOU’RE THE one who says it best:  A good painting; a real one, IS actually rare to find but we can find TONS of bad painting that LOOK good to the BAD (untrained art) eye so CAN sell these crummy painting to those people (F. arts dealers) no problem.
            “It’s a market that’s hard to turn your back on.”
            “Yes.  Especially when it’s right in front of you all the time (at the thrift shops AND at the galleries).”
            “It’s NOT as all over the place the way they (thrift shop paintings) used to be.  Now a lot of the thrift shops price their crummy paintings higher and try to look them (the artist) up themselves.  That’s ok (for them to do that) because they’re still crummy paintings.  They don’t get it; the market.  They think it’s fixed in stone.  Those kind of paintings and their market aren’t even scratched in sand before the tide comes in.  It’s the dealer who scratches the sand and that scratch is only there until the next tide (‘the painting is sold’).
            “Like you say; they’re “SELL IT” only paintings.  And... I don’t buy them.  I ‘get them’.”

            “Now... when you cowboy into the thrift store to cowboy down what do you look for first.”
            “Well there isn’t a ‘first’ for me.  I, you know, scan.  And in most cases I already know the (thrift) shop cold anyway so... I’m just ready to pick anything off.”
            “By anything you actually mean a real antique that is in fact a real antique that is understood to be that in the antiques marketplace and is also things like ‘good’, ‘nice’, ‘good condition’, ‘cheap’ and... well... I guess after that anything goes.”
            “And it does; sometimes it’s furniture.  Sometimes glass.  Sometimes art.  You know; that’s the biggest thing we bring to this is the all over the board cowboy down buying.  I’ve seen you go all over the board and there’s six people in the isle with you.  I mean... if it ‘s there, it’s nuts.
            “By that you mean that if good antiques priced cheap are for sale with you being in the thrift store ‘cowboy down’... it’s great.”
            “I can make a whole weeks pay in one crowded thrift store.”
            “But why... and I know the answer.”

            “And the answer is that the rest of ‘em (shoppers in the thrift store) do NOT know the answer.”
            “Which is?”
            “WHAT something IS.”
            “You scan for... something that is... an antique; a true antique”.
            “In the middle of all the junk and all the other people pawing through the junk.  They’re, like, looking at an egg poacher or something.  Right there next to it is gold.”
            “So how do you know?”

            “Your just saying that to be stupid.  You know that the ‘I know’ IS IT.  And that is backed up by all the ‘I don’t know’.  They... don’t... know.   So it’s over for them.  They may look as hard as they want at the glassware but unless they know what the glassware is... they are not even ‘cowboy down’.”
            “They’re cowboy what?”.
            “Worse than that.”
            “In my way.”
            “So what you know is the cowboy down”.
            “Well... really... no.  What I know is done.  And you know way more than me.  I mean... I see you with something it’s pretty rare that you don’t already know more about it than I’m ever gonna know.  That’s how I met you; staring at what you already know and bought.  Cowboy is when I don’t know for sure but am pretty sure or sort of sure.  How about not sure.  I do a lot of that”. 

            “You mean you are your own ‘cowboy down’; the loose money (second) meaning, too?”
            “Yes... I do admit I do a lot of that.  Watching you makes me try too hard and I do, truly, NOT know.  And I see you... I think I’ve come to know more from watching what you buy than from anything else.  I see you reach out for something and there it goes and I didn’t even see that even though it was right in front of me a minute before.  It’s just... I NEVER seen anyone like you.”
            “If it’s there I’m gonna find it”.
            “But I mean you’ll find it and it’ll be some French second republic fish steamer or some copper inlaid buggy step stool or an on and on you never stop thing I didn’t even know you could find let alone sell and then it’s right there in your hand and it’s obvious it’s GOOD.”
            “Well your better at it then most of ‘em.  I had to start watching you.”

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