Wednesday, June 25, 2008

SOLD! to the highest bidder…

Years ago Michael and I started going to auctions. We got some great deals and some not so great deals, but we learned a lot about what we liked and what we didn’t. After a couple of auctions, we got to know a few of the local antiques dealers. We weren’t close friends, but we shared in some small talk during lulls in the action. We made up nicknames for the more colorful dealers… there was the eye patch guy, the weird guy, the hat guy and Stinky. While we weren’t creative, we were explicit.

For better or worse, Stinky liked to talk with us a lot. I found myself bidding against him quite a bit. I am more than a little bothered by the fact that Stinky and I had similar tastes, but he gave me some good advice as well as clearing out my sinuses. He assured me that if I beat him out by just a couple of dollars, I was getting a good deal. If he “won” the bidding, he would have to mark up the item at least 50 percent to make it worth his while. So, when I beat him I felt like I was getting a good deal. Conversely, when he beat me I felt like someone was getting ripped off… but it wasn’t me.

These dealers seemed to know what they were doing. They would turn chairs over, pull out drawers, tap on stuff and stand guard by specific items. We learned to do the same, but ultimately our bids came down to what we liked, not what we thought would sell well in a shop.

I really liked two deck chairs. They were a mess and the fabric was so dry rotted that you couldn’t sit in them to test them out. No one seemed interested in these chairs except for us. I didn’t need to stand guard, I didn’t need to worry about outbidding any collectors or dealers. We got the pair for $5.

After sitting in the attic for years and then moving them to the shed at the new house, we pulled them out as I was convinced we could use them on our patio by the pond (that we have yet to finish). I sanded them down, ripped off the material that was in even worse shape after sitting for more time and varnished them with a clear coat. I then reupholstered them with snazzy new outdoor fabric that was on discount at the fabric shop.

I think Stinky and the motley crew of dealers would bid on them now!

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