Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cowboy Down - A Conversation Between Two Professional Thrift Shoppers - Part Two - "Wade Through That"

Cowboy Down

A Conversation Between Two Professional Thrift Shoppers

Part Two

"Wade Through That"

            “I didn’t know you watched me!  What on earth for?”
            “You were buying real things.  Touching them too.  And not buying them.  Your mistake of course.  You know; put up the flag and leave”
            “Well you’re the one who never touches anything.  I have to touch.  I can’t resist”.
            “That’s good for me.  I can make a day’s pay on what you touch and walk away from.”
            “Your so ruthless.”
            “Look... if you touch it, it’s market good.  Your taste is fine; a compliment to an object.  You touch it and walk away; that means I can sell it... to someone just like you.”
            “I know... and I know how you never touch anything.  Well... anything GOOD.  You touch crap all the time.  And I know; throws them off.  I mean, even I look at what you touch.  It’s the stuff you don’t touch.  Suddenly that thing is gone and going through check out.”

            “When I see you I watch.  Your, like, PERFECT.  You buy some twaddle for five bucks but... fifty-five bucks and your hands are all over it, holding it in the LIGHT, turning it over, stand back viewing.  That’s the best; when you do that with your (right foot) toe pointing forward.  I can bank it”
            “Well I’m trying to decide”.
            “What’s to decide?  I mean... your already all over it.  I see that and that means DONE.  Just step away please.  Then boom; all mine.  It’s like you’re my personal appraiser.  I go... ‘Can I put this in a woman’s living room?’ and walk past.  Next thing I know your over there dragging into the light and giving it the sniff test[1].  THANK YOU.  I know that at fifty-five your gonna hedge off.  You know:  Your too cheap.  Sure enough there you go and BOOM.  Not only is it bought but I know it’s sold... because you looked at it; touched it.  I cash a check on your taste; your thumbs up.  I wouldn’t touch anything if I were you.”
            “Well... you sure don’t.  When you touch something it starts on the trail out the door... of the store.  I’ve seen enough of that.  And you are right; a little womanly poke here and there on the same little table DOES assure one that it’s a ‘go’.”
            “Easy money; two women touch it, price it and walk off... all mine thank you”.
            “They never see you either.  And when they do it’s ‘THAT MAN:  HE’S BUYING THAT OH MY GOD’.”

            “Yeah I just did one the other day at the Sal (Salvation Army).  A chart case.  Everyone likes ‘em but nobody knows what they are.  They’re a big square box with big flat drawers.  Went on a ship to hold charts.  I mean... SUPER functional to put stuff in AND ‘handsome’[1].  So... hey...; this one was 1880’s.  They’re just not around so for fifty bucks it’s stolen and mine.  I go to start moving it and this woman is right on top of me; (antiques) show dealer from Pennsylvania.  You know; doing the (coastal Maine) summer shows.  She’s like ‘I looked at that I like it what is it’.  Chart case.  OH OF COURSE she said.  She watched us flip it into the truck.  She won’t ever forget that.
            “Where is that?”
            “Six hundred.  Gone”.

            “And you never touched it until you’d already bought it.”
            “Absolutely.  If I touch anything... that’s giving information to the enemy”.
            “That’s the... real thing.”
            “Well... the REAL THING is the fifty bucks.  Or higher.  That’s where the big fall is.  I mean, like, something for over a hundred bucks.  EVERYONE touches it.  Ohhhh’s over it:  ‘Oh, oh’.  But no wallet out.  It’s obviously the best thing in the whole thrift store AND the NEXT thrift store and... they just walk away.  I’ve seen you constantly do that.
            “I know.  I’ve gotten better
            “Like... they have a desk.  For four hundred bucks.  And, like:  It’s thirty-six hundred off:  Four K.  And no one is even looking at it.  Heaven forbid they get a real painting.  I mean... that’s like... serious.  I wait.  Sometimes a MONTH.  Then they put three-fifty ($350.00) on it.  Took ‘em a month.  Then:  Boom.  Gone.  I never went near it.  Only to take it to check out.  “OH” she said “WE JUST PUT THAT OUT”.  Yes dear; thank you.”
            “Well... there IS RISK.”

            “Some risk.  From using your art eye?  Let’s talk about YOUR eye; your thrift shop eye.  When, like, did it happen?”
            “What happen?”
            “Your first thrift shop buy... using your art eye.  NOT the antiques business.  The THRIFT SHOP business.  Your antiques eye is too boring.  Too old.  You probably bought something (an antique) like a chair when, like, Nixon was president.”
            “I DID!”
            “It must have been dreadful.”
            “It was not.”
            “You still have it?”
            “See; dreadful.  OK:  Thrift shop day one was.... WHEN and WHAT?”

            “Well... this was YEARS ago... I’d go to one to look at the clothes.  Because my friend did.  She always did.  So I went.  And I never found anything I liked.  I didn’t even like it.”
            “And you were already an antiques dealer, right?”
            “Oh yes.  I did all that.  Doing (antiques) shows.  Buying from dealers.  Going to auctions.  Going to tag sales.  I didn’t go to yard sales that much.”
            “ANYWAY you..?”
            “Well one day I was walking out (of the thrift store) and there were two pink lustre (handless) cups and saucers (English Staffordshire circa 1820) on the counter for one dollar each.  And I was, like, ‘THESE ARE ANTIQUE’.  And I bought them.  And I then sold them at the antiques show that weekend.”
            “How much?”
            “Oh like twenty... maybe just fifteen dollars... each.  You know; nothing special”
            “But that was number one.”
            “Oh yes.  From THEN on I started to stop and look around at every thrift store.  I didn’t even notice them before.  I’d drive right by them.  But then I started to always stop.”

            “And what happened?”
            “Well I started to FIND things that were REAL ANTIQUES.”
            “And THEN what happened?”
            “What do you mean?”
            “Well... THEN... I found YOU and started watching.”
            “Well YES but... at FIRST... I didn’t even THINK someone like you was out there.  I mean... who could find THAT MUCH stuff like that (going to thrift stores).”
            “And I wasn’t telling you either.  I remember:  I was like; ‘pain in the ass’.”
            “I was not.”
            “If your there... I got trouble.  Except that, like, BACK THEN you were still trying to make order out thrift store chaos.”
            “WELL... I mean... they DID do things wrong.”

            “They still do.  Who cares.  It’s, like, THAT HELPS US.  It’s like one big screw up of all the little screw ups and... we don’t get pissed at the little screw ups and just ride the BIG screw up.  For buying art... to me... it’s like going to a different galaxy where aliens live.”
            “Yes but... your nuts.”
            “I get the art to prove it.”
            “Yes, yes, but, well... I admit that I HAVE learned to appreciate the chaos from you.  I’m a lot better.  Your thing about it (going to thrift stores) being like going on a carnival ride is really true.”

            “I think is more like going to a whole carnival.  I mean... these days... it IS nuts.  The cast of characters has really expanded since we’ve been doing this.  There’s, like, the tech boom.  The cell phones.  The ebay people.  The dumb dealers.  It’s, like, now, total sideshow all the time.  And we’re there and, like, the only ones who HAVE always been there and KNOW (what we’re doing; have a classical antiques and antiques trade background).  They (the thrift stores) even bring in ‘experts’ and ‘auctioneers’ all the time now and THEY screw it up.  I mean: COOL.  And... on top of all THAT; all the time, is... like... all the regular people who are just going to the (thrift) store REGULAR like.  I mean... WADE TROUGH THAT COWBOY!
            “Wade through that cowboy... I like that.  There’s a lot of truth to that.”
            “They get stuck and their boots come off.”
            “And we just go around them.”

[1] :  This is a word one should learn to apply (deploy)... from one’s aesthetic eye to a ‘decorative arts’. “It’s... HANDSOME”.

[1] : “the sniff test”:  HOW DOES IT SMELL.  Very important; crucial, in antiques decorative arts marketing.  Practice doing this with GREAT discretion (no one ‘sees you’ ‘do’ ‘the sniff test’.  And if it don’t ‘pass’... then YOU PASS... and let the NEXT one ‘in line’ buy it, load it and ... head off down the highway with the sun beating on it inside the hatchback... “YIKES: WHAT’S THAT SMELL OH MY GOD!”

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