#336: Garage Sales

IMG_20141031_171118RECORD STORE TALES Mk II: Getting More Tale
#336: Garage Sales

I used to love garage sales and yard sales as a kid; both going to them and having them.  As a buyer, you never know what cool things you will find at a garage sale, from books to gadgets to movies.  As a seller, it’s a quick way to de-clutter your house and liquidate junk that’s sitting around.  In our last few garage sales, I made several hundred dollars and cleaned out a ton of space.

It’s a lot of work, packing up the stuff and getting it organized, priced and displayed.  Making and putting up the signs.  Creating online ads.  Opening for business.  But you’re not here to read about the tedious aspects.  You’re here for the stories.

Some of the most irritating people on this Earth are the early-morning hard-core garage salers.  They scour the newspaper ads each week and want to be first to arrive.  Since I live in a condo, the last bunch of garage sales we’ve held were at my parents’ house.  I would drive over early on the Saturday morning to open up for business.  I’d arrive around 6 or 6:30, in order to open up at 7, our advertised time.

I remember driving over on that lovely summer morning, still dark outside, and seeing a dude sitting in his car on the side of the street.  “He can’t be here for the sale,” I said to myself.  “I advertised that it starts at 7:00.”   But I had underestimated the tenacity of serious hard core garage salers.  I parked, opened the garage door, and began moving things out onto the driveway.

Next thing you know, I notice a guy in the dark garage behind me!

“Where are your Star Wars things?” he asked.

I said, “I’m not even close to being ready.  They’re here in boxes somewhere but I have to dig everything out.”

“Do you have the vintage ones from the 70’s?”

I laughed.  “No.  I would never sell that stuff at a garage sale!”

I laughed just like this.

Without a word the guy left and drove off to the next sale.  Over the next 30 minutes, while I was setting up, cars would drive by, slow down to look at what I had, and drive off.  If they didn’t see what they were looking for (presumably big items like bikes and appliances) they kept going.

Typically at a garage sale, you don’t make any money for the first hour.  The first hour is only serious salers who are looking for those specific items.  They ask what you have and leave.  After that things begin to pick up.  Most people are pretty nice.  As the day goes on, friends and neighbors drop by, but it’s the cheapskates that drive me nuts.

A garage sale is a place where you can buy things dirt-cheap, but even so, I have my limits.  The guy that pissed me off the most at the last one was a douchebag in a big black pickup truck.  (Why do the douchebags always seem to drive big black pickup trucks?)  I had about a dozen DVDs and a couple Blu-rays out for sale.  The prices on them were pretty reasonable: I had the Blu out for $4 and none of the DVDs were over $3.  And that’s just the stickered prices, I was always willing to make deals with people who bought more than one.  Within reason.

The pickup truck douchebag grabbed all my movies and said simply to me, “50 cents each?”

I said, “No, I can’t go that low.  If you take them all you can have ‘em for $2 each.”

He laughed, “$2 each?  Are you nuts?”  Laughed again.  “You’re not going to get $2 each for these.”

“I already have,” I said.  “I’ve sold a few already.”

He chuckled again and said, “You’re not going to sell these for $2 each.  50 cents and I’ll take them all.”

“No thanks,” I responded.  “I’d rather sell them separately at full price.”

He began walking away.  “Good luck buddy, you’re not going to sell any of those movies.”

Again I laughed.  “I already have!”

Then he said to me, “You know, that place [name deleted] will only give you 50 cents each for movies.”

The funny thing is the place he mentioned was the Record Store in which I used to work!  And they were not giving 50 cents each for movies at the time.  I had worked there long enough, and sold enough stuff since, that I knew he was full of shit.

I told him who I was, and called bullshit.  He drove off.

I admit I was pretty steamed up.  But the guy was a total dillhole.  Just the kind of garage saler that everybody hates.  Like I would have given him the movies with that kind of attitude!

An hour or two later, he drove back!

“Hey buddy!” he shouted from the window of his truck.  “How much for your movies?”

“Same as before,” I responded.  “$2 each.”

He said something rude and drove off.  I responded with something rude and was promptly scolded by my mother!

“He was a dickweed, mom,” I reasoned.  He then drove to my sister’s place, who had a garage sale going at the same time, and bought one of her movies for $2 without a single complaint!

I sold all but three of my movies at that sale and raked in a few hundred bucks.  I was happy and I just gave the remaining movies away to friends.  Although I may still have my copy of Reefer Madness that nobody wants.


After the garage sale, my parents went on vacation for a week.  While they were away, one of the items we sold at the garage sale turned up sitting on my parents’ front porch, with a note attached.

Somebody had bought a VCR at the garage sale, and a few movies to go with it.  Everything worked.  The VCR was missing its power cable, but that was all.  I have lots of spare power cables around the house, and they’re easy enough to find, so I figured that was not an issue.

Well, some dumb lady “returned” the VCR ($5) and left it, with the movies, on my parents’ porch saying she wanted her money back because it “didn’t work”.

You sure can’t fix stupid.

Fortunately when my folks returned from vacation they settled the VCR issue.  The lady came back; she was from the neighborhood, and my parents gave her the money back without incident.

Still, I wondered to myself, “Who the hell tries to return something they bought at a garage sale?”  Weird.

That was the last sale we had.  Though I am sure we will have more, they certainly are not as much fun as they were when I was a kid!

Part 228: The Phone

RECORD STORE TALES Part 228: The Phone


Boring conversation anyway.

I has been a long time since I’ve had to answer the phone at the record store. As long as it’s been, sometimes I still find myself answering my phone at work, and it just happens: “Good afternoon, [name of record store].”  I’ve stumbled over that a couple times before realizing what I’ve said!

Every time it happens (like today), it takes me right back in time!  The memories flood in all at once.

There were several ways we were supposed to answer the phones at the record store. “Good afternoon, [name of store]” was the main one. Our boss used to answer the phone with “good afternoon” no matter what time it was. 10 am: “good afternoon”. 8 pm: “good afternoon”. I used to tease him about that.

Later on when we got more locations, we changed the phone greeting to, “Good afternoon, [name of store], [address of store].” This was done for customers who were too confused to figure out which location they had just dialed. Although that didn’t stop one guy, who went on an extended cuss-infested tirade because I didn’t have his special order…even though he called the wrong store! You can’t fix stupid.  (This story was recounted back in Part 104: A Nightmare on Cocknuckles Street.)

At Christmas we’d do other variations of the greeting. I personally enjoyed “Merry Christmas, [name of store]” because I for one don’t like “Happy Holidays”. The name of the date on the calendar is Christmas, whether you celebrate it or not, you still get a stat holiday like everyone else.  Happy Holidays my arse.

Tom came up with a few interesting greetings. “Happy Ho Ho, [name of store]” was a good one. Another time he answered “[Name of store], Santa’s little rock shop.” He tried to have fun with it.

Still, the worst answering of the phone that ever happened was on my watch.  It was a busy night, and some kid asked to use the phone for a moment.  We usually obliged such requests, instructing the person to be quick.  Well I turned my back for a moment on this kid, and next thing I knew he had walked halfway across the store with the phone and was having a whole conversation.  I made my way out to retrieve the phone, but it was too late.  The kid had a “call waiting” and answered the store phone for us.

“Hello?  Uhhh, hold on.”  Then he finally acknowledged me.  “It’s for you.”


Part 96: Aerodouche Dandy

RECORD STORE TALES Part 96:  Aerodouche Dandy

The year:  2003. Aerosmith were in town, playing a private party for Research in Motion.  I know a few people who went.  But I also know someone who ran into Steven Tyler downtown that day.  (As an historic footnote, the opening act for that party was Barenaked Ladies.  Thanks to Melvin Lapandano for that information.)

The person who bumped into Tyler was “Dandy”, one of the biggest assholes I’ve ever worked with.  And that doesn’t even bother him, he used to be proud that he was a dick.  Once he dropped his façade and showed his true colours, I had no use for the guy.  He was the kind of lazy disinterested employee who knew when he was safe to screw the pooch and when he had to work, and who to kiss ass for brownie points.  He was an expert at keeping up appearances.

The only time Dandy did anything (arguably) funny was the time met Steven Tyler downtown.  But he was still a dick.

Aerosmith’s last album, Just Push Play was pretty dismal, loaded with pop, ballads and samples.  Even Joe Perry says it’s his least favourite album.

So, Aerosmith are in town to play the private party.  Dandy’s walking downtown, acting like a douche (that part is speculation, but it’s probably true), when he bumps into Steven Tyler.  The conversation went like this.

Dandy – “Hey!  You’re in Aerosmith, right?”

Tyler – “That’s right, how are you doing man?”

Dandy – “I’m OK.  You guys kind of suck now don’t you?”

Tyler – (frowns and walks away)

Dandy – “Cheers.”

Then, to conclude the story, Dandy told me, “Later on I saw the bass player too.  But I didn’t say anything to him.  He’s just the bass player, so it already sucks enough to be him.”

What a douchebag!