Sunday, February 15, 2015

Thoughts from a Closing

There were many things running through my head during the mall closing.  Not all of them were happy memories or near panic attacks about all the work I had to do.  Some were just my usual odd ruminations and rambling thoughts.


It is amazing to me how many people simply don't read signs, don't pay attention to things, make unfounded assumptions (then get angry when they're not correct), and just in general seem content to wander through life in a daze, hoping they don't get hit by a bus.

First, you have the vendors who, despite having the closing letter stapled to their statements, weren't aware that we were closing or had all the information totally wrong, especially the date we had to be out.  One guy was insisting that he had ten more days than we really had.  Nothing in writing ever said that.  Then you had the vendors who owed money and got upset that they had to pay it before they could move their stuff out, just like it said in the letter.  (And in our contracts for that matter.)

And then there are the customers.  Oh, the customers.  The ones who walk in the door assuming everything  everywhere is 75% off.  I got so tired of putting stuff back in my booth that should have been purchased, but wasn't.  $1.99 items that got put back because they weren't 50% off.  Really?  The damn thing was a bargain to begin with!  The worst ones were the ones who saw a 75% off sign in a booth somewhere and decided that it was for everything and would not be dissuaded from that.  I overheard a woman leaving complaining about "all those 50% off signs in front of the store and nothing is 50% off."  (There was one sign on the door for one booth.  Every other sign was about the closing date.)  Even better was the one who told me I was committing "false advertising" because a sign in the booth next to mine had 75% off and my stuff wasn't discounted.  I finally had to move that sign so that it could not be seen by people in my booth.  You'd think that they would just compare the booth number on the sign with the booth number on the tag, but no.

I hope they have better luck with the buses.


I told the cashiers more than once how much I admired them for their restraint and self-control and professionalism during the last days.  I'm not sure I could have done it.  There was some rude, uncalled for behavior going on at times.

At the same time, though, I am always glad to help out when I can.  I do hang out at the register a lot when I'm having a rest break, so customers sometimes think I work there.  I directed customers to the exit, showed them things they were looking for (if I could), gave them negotiating tips for dealing with a vendor, even helped them load things.  (I got a $5 tip for that!  I told her she didn't have to, but she insisted.)  I also helped wrap and bag large orders, which I like doing because I can see if there are things I might like in a booth I've been missing that way.


So why didn't I run a discount?  Well, the main reason is that it's my booth, my business and I don't have to if I don't want to.  So there.

The more complicated reason has to do with profits and motives.  Most folks running discounts were the type who had nowhere else to take stuff and didn't want it going to their houses.  That's not my situation.  There were also a few (like me) who had tons of stuff  and didn't want to do the work of moving it all out.  That's also not my situation.  Since I don't know what my personal health is going to be like over the next few months, I am really terrified of not being able to go out and get stuff.  This way, I have a stash that is all priced up, boxed up, and ready to go.  Just in case.

My goal for the month was to have the largest check of my reselling history.  Since rent was not coming out of it, there was no reason not to shoot for the moon.  I could get a big check with markdowns, but not without writing off most of my profit.  Since my one remaining store is currently an underperformer, I didn't think I could afford to do that.

The funny thing is that even with no discounts, my stuff was still cheaper than several of the sellers who were 50% off!  Often on the same items!  Yet mine got put back!  PEOPLE!


Since the mall wasn't fully rented, several vendors took advantage of the last weeks and spread their stuff into some of the empty spots.  I did this with the things from the storage room that I bought.  I also held on to that room as well, since no one was going to be renting it out again. It made the place look fuller and got more of my stuff in front of folks.


Hang around a all that's closing and you'll get offered all the cheap/free stuff you can stand.  And then some.  Everyone has something they don't want to move or fool with any more.  I got a half dozen or so new (to me) shelves that way.  There were enough, in fact, that I am now able to dedicate my plastic utility shelves totally to my shed and storage.  I had been wanting to get away from using them for display.  I was also given a drop-leaf table, a loveseat, and a very nice upholstered chair.  All that, and a box of nice candles in jars to boot!


Of course, at 50 and 75% off, you can find some goodies!  I would lay in a stash for a couple of days until I had a cartful, then check out.  I got to where I would call the item info out to the cashier and give them the discounted price to speed things along.  I always tried to avoid high traffic times when I did this, since I did tie up a cashier for a little while.  It was fun, for sure.

I used to say that my goal as a junker was to walk out of a store with a receipt as tall as I am.  I did it a couple of times.

I need a new goal now.

Sadly, my excursions in search of discounts led me to several booths I had never visited before because they were outside of my usual mall route, which pretty much just led to my booth and back.  I found at least a couple where the prices were so good before the discounts that I should have been shopping there all along.


There's the free that's handed to you.  Then there's the free you find.  During the clean up after the closing, there are always items that get left behind as people movie out.  Since I planned to do most of my packing up after the last day to maximize sales, I had the opportunity to scavenge a few things that otherwise would have ended up in the trash.  There was a person who was allotted to have first pick at the leftovers, in exchange for cleaning the place up and taking down all the walls, so I made sure that I wasn't impinging upon anything he wanted, before I swooped on something.  It was simple.  You go:  "Hey is that cart trash?"  If they say it is, then ask to grab a couple of things off the top.  Never dig through since everyone is busy.  If they say that they are keeping it, then compliment them on their good taste in items.


Of course, I got rid of a few things too.  I gave away stuff that had outlived its usefulness, mostly old display and shelving stuff.  A lot went to folks who also scrap, since there wasn't much other use for it.  I also gave away some small stuff and tossed a few things.  I try to limit what I just flat out toss, because I hate to see things get thrown away that might still have life in them, but when a shelf blew over while we were loading up and smashed to bits, it was an easy call to toss.  The store rented one of those huge commercial dumpsters, and several times it ended up looking like this:

Lots of good things got tossed, which killed me.  I had to keep telling myself that I cannot have all the things, save all the things, or sell all the things.  But I really, really wanted to try.  I just have to content myself with the thought that I tossed stuff out sparingly and tried my darnedest to get things where they would be the most use for others.


Oops.  There goes the language again.  I just get so tired of being tired all the time.  It was very frustrating for me during the closing weeks.  I would just be getting started on something and need to take a break.  Quite a few things that I wanted to do didn't get done the way I wanted because of that, like markdowns, which happened kind of haphazardly and not in the lovely organized fashion I had envisioned.  It dawned on me a couple of days after we finished that the reason the storage unit is fuller than I thought it would be is from the items (most of which were large) that I anticipated would sell with markdowns.  Oh well.  More for later, I suppose.


The whole thing was such a time-eater.  I know I had to do it, but, dude!  I missed out on some other opportunities and things I usually do.  My brother emailed me a couple of days ago, just to make sure I hadn't been sick(er).  He was worried because he hadn't heard from me.  Thrifting?  No time!  Blogging?  No time.  You all are going to be reading January topics in February and March.  I missed a closing sale at Toys R Us and two good estate sales to deal with this madness.  I keep telling myself that I cannot go to all the sales, but still.  I also didn't really get to do my Christmas clearance shopping this year.  I would have just been starting that when we got the closing notice.  There just wasn't time.  Thankfully my discount booth shopping yielded lots of Christmas, since most booths still had theirs out and left it out through the closing.  I don't have a stash like I usually do, but I'll get through.


The biggest bummer of all was the very nice piece that was stolen from me during the chaos of the closing.  It was the first major loss I've ever had.  I've lost smalls here and there, which is usually no biggie.  That's the kind of stuff that happens.  This was a nice, pricey (for me) piece.  I'm still bummed about it.  It's the kind of thing I'll never find again.


Finally, some last looks.  Before we left for the last time, I took some pics.  People always used to talk about how big the store was.  It never felt big to me with all the booths and stuff in it.  Empty?  The place is cavernous!

Also, soulless.


Have you ever seen the ending episode to a TV series where they keep pulling the camera back and suddenly you see the sets and the lights and stuff?  And there are people walking off the set and cleaning up and turning out the lights and then that's all?  That's the way things felt for me right then. 


Linda @ A La Carte said...

Eddie, great thoughts and good sharing! It must be hard to deal with all of that and be so tired. I am so proud of you for getting it done and doing it your way.

Shara said...

You have worked so very hard. I can't imagine clearing out my booth and it's chump compared to all yours. I wouldn't have anywhere to put it all when I got it home either. I hate it that you had something stolen. I'm still waiting to her about the woman that said you had it coming for high prices. I am still FURIOUS with her and I don't even know the whole story! I know how you are feeling about leaving since it wasn't your choice. When we first got married, we lived in a little house that we loved. The landlord called and said be out in two weeks, I'm moving in there. We had to pack up so fast and find anew place and I felt so disorganized. I still feel like I forgot things there and I never got to finish what I had planned. It's different when it's YOUR choice to leave somewhere. It's sad.

Pat said...

This is a great post, Eddie - you really articulate your thoughts well. I am so impressed with how hard you worked given the inevitable "cancer tired". And I think you plan of not discounting, and saving stuff back for later is a great one. Even if you feel less tired this summer, it probably wouldn't hurt to ease up on yourself and not have to run around looking for inventory unless you are in the mood.