Vintage Rescue Squad had a post the other day that reminded me of a conversation I had with my uncle last year. He's also a re-seller (sounds better than saying that he's a dealer), but at a much higher level than me. For me, it's a hobby; for him, an income source. He sells at flea markets, live auctions, and a booth in a vendor mall, plus eBay. And his stuff ranges from the antiquey to the junky depending on the venue. I've gone with him a few times to pick up what he refers to as "junk" to round out his load for the auction house. By junk, he means perfectly usable, ordinary objects with a lot of use/life left in them, not the piles of broken down crap that the term conjures up. There's nothing special about any of it, but it will sell for him and that's what matters.
Many of us re-sellers refer to ourselves as "junk dealers" in equal parts deprecation and endearment, but the reality is, even a penny ante guy like me wouldn't be caught dead actually selling real junk. It's especially cute when someone like VRS, who deals in serious antiques, talks about "junk" and "junking." You can tell by the pics of her stuff that her "junk" outclasses mine by the proverbial country mile. (And check out the awesome display of religious statuary in the post I've linked to. Makes me weak in the knees, truly.)
Anyway, when she writes in this post about buying things from dealers in other locales to sell at her booth, and vice versa, it reminded me of my uncle's theory, which he calls "The Circle of Junk."
It goes kind of like this:
1. I buy something at a yard sale for 25 cents and put it my booth marked 50 cents.
2. Someone comes along and buys it for 50 cents and puts it on sale in their establishment for a dollar.
3. Someone else buys it for a dollar and puts it on sale for 1.50.
4. This continues until someone gets it and prices it beyond what anyone will pay for it, so it sits for six months.
5. The last buyer gets tired of seeing it taking up space in their booth, takes it home, and puts it in their yard sale, priced at 25 cents.
6. Someone buys it, takes it to their booth, and prices it at 50 cents.
7. And so on, and so on, and so on.
There's also an alternate ending, where it doesn't sell at the yard sale, gets donated to a thrift, priced at 50 cents and someone buys iy there to restart the cycle.
If you're not a reseller, you might think we're exaggerating, but it really can be like this. Sometimes I wonder if anyone besides resellers is out there buying stuff. You see the same people over and over at sales and auctions. When I walk our mall looking for misplaced items of mine to return to my space (one of the drudgeries that has to be done in this business), I'm always seeing things that used to be in my booth that someone has bought and put in theirs. I have other sellers in our mall telling me they like to shop my space for stuff. Is there anyone out there who just buys stuff because they like it?
Okay, so I am exaggerating a wee bit. Still, it does make you think sometimes. It's almost like a closed, self-perpetuating economic cycle. I find that fascinating.