Thursday, September 13, 2007

True Tales of Yard Sales: Two Bucks!

There was a yard sale listed on Craigslist several Saturdays ago that included comics in the listing. The listing said it started at 8, so we made plans to start the weekly run of yard sales and errands there.

Having sold quite a bit of my own collection at our yard sales, I’ve gotten to know the other geeks in town who hit sales looking for comics. There are two or three of them for whom the mere mention of the word “comics” will just about guarantee their presence. And they tend to be the most annoying kind of yard salers—the early birds!

For those of you not up on the parlance, an “early bird” is one who shows up at a sale before the advertised start time—often while set up is still going on. They’re typically dealers of one kind or another trying to cherry pick the best stuff before anyone else gets there. Collectors tend to be early birds as well, and the specific mention of something like comics (or salt/pepper shakers or oven mitts or manhole covers) can bring them out. There are also folks who show up early just because they’re yard sale junkies and the thought that someone else might find something cool before they do drives them nuts.

Many times ads will say “No Early Birds” in an attempt to try and stem the tide, but it usually doesn’t work. What are you going to do? Shooting them isn’t legal, after all. Plus, they do have something you want, namely money, which they want to give you in exchange for your unwanted junk. So early birds usually win.

I find them so annoying at our own sales that I try not to be one whenever possible. Yes, I do want the money, but it’s hard to get everything set up and ready for the rest of the day when you’ve got people going through your boxes before you can get them unpacked. And I want to make money (and get rid of crap) all day, which means having a good set-up from the start.

Nevertheless, when there’s comics involved, I bend my own rules just a bit. Technically, I won’t early bird, but I will try to get there right at the advertised opening time.
Like Isaid before, it’s been a surprising year for comics at sales. This one was like the third or fourth listing that specifically mentioned having comics, and I’ve come across small lots of them at a few other sales. Granted, my collecting net is drawn so tightly these days that the chances of finding something that falls in my target range* is pretty slim, especially at an affordable price.

Still, the thrill of the hunt
is part of the game, and I cannot resist the call, so at 8:00 we were sitting in front of the house looking at a bunch of empty tables. That’s empty as in “not set up,” as opposed to “all sold out.” Not only that, there was no one in sight, and no sign of life, motion, or activity inside the house. In other words, a clear violation of Prime Yard Sale Rule #1: BE READY AT YOUR ADVERTISED START TIME!! You’re totally set up for failure if you don’t. Even the most diehard “gotta buy someone else’s junk cheap” yard sale junkie is not going to wait for you to haul your ass out of bed and start dragging stuff out. I know I certainly won’t!

On the upside, if the comic book geek-hawks had been there before me, they would have seen the same empty tables and gone on. We decided to hit a couple of other sales in the area and then come back. Which we did about an hour and a half later to find Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High slowly hauling stuff out of the house and stacking it on the tables. Suddenly, it all made sense—the Craigslist ad, the late start, everything.

At this point, it’s well after the announced start time. Stuff is still in boxes. There are no comics in sight. Honestly, I started to feel a bit sorry for Spicoli. He’s not going to unload much stuff or make much cash at this rate. Still, he’s friendly enough, so we ask him about the comics. He vanishes into the house for several minutes, during which another couple comes up and starts looking at stuff. They even ask me how much stuff costs, like it’s our sale.

Now, I’m not holding much hope for the comics. The signs are all pointing to a box full of stuff I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole, but since we did ask and he did go to get them we hang around until he gets back. Eventually, he comes out of the house with a long box and plops it down on the table. I take a look inside and confirm my worst fears. It’s half full of mid-to-late 90’s X-men related titles. Sigh!

In the meantime the guy that came up while we were waiting asks Spicoli how much the videos are. “
Two bucks!” is the answer. I decide to at least be polite and thumb through the box before leaving. While I’m looking, this conversation takes place: Other customer: “Will you take fifty cents** for this CD rack?” Spicoli: “I was kinda hoping to get two bucks for it!”

Well, much to my surprise, I find these in the back of the box:

That’s a few Simpsons comics, a Simpsons trade, along with an oddly incongruous pair of Silver Age comics: an issue of Mandrake the Magician and Strange Adventures 197.

Now, I’ll read the Simpsons stuff every so often, but it’s not anything I’m wild about. I got them mainly because I really didn’t want to leave empty-handed after all the wait. I figured they’d be fun reads and then I could dump ‘em at Half-Price Books and sell the trade to my LCS. The other two were right up my alley, but I was a little afraid Spicoli might be asking more for them than I wanted to pay. Nothing like a beat-up old comic to give someone visions of impending wealth, after all.***

Still nothing ventured, nothing gained. So I hand him my small stack and asked what he wants for them. He looked through them and said “How about
two bucks?” So I hand him two ones, thank him, and Keith and I turn to leave. As we are walking off, we hear the following exchange with the other customer:

Customer: “How much is this?”

Spicoli: “
Two bucks!

We get in the car, and Keith says, “Well, we know how much his favorite brand of beer costs.”

It was kind of like wandering into that Subway commercial where everything at the yard sale is $2.69 (including the cat) because that’s what the daily special at Subway costs. (I tried to find a video clip of it, but no luck.)

*Eddie’s target range=weird, wonderful, obscure, or somewhat esoteric. There’s a post in that description that’s dying to be written. Now isn’t the time, though.

**Yes, he really offered fifty cents for a nice tall CD rack that would hold at least 200 discs. Cheap bastard!

***A phenomenon that’s way too common at yard sales and thrift stores, unfortunately.

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