HOW MUCH IS that doggy in the window?
Well, there is a posted price -- but there's also a sale on, we've got this coupon from the paper, and we've got a store loyalty card and a frequentbuyer punch card, and using this credit card gives us a discount, except that they say they honor competitor's coupons and we've got one of those, but they also will beat any competitor's price and we've got an ad, but then again they might be having an even better deal next week, and won't we feel foolish paying more, so maybe we should ask what kind of deal they can do for us ...
Welcome to the retail pricing game, circa 2007.
It's a game -- or maybe contest of wills is the better description for it -- that neither retailer nor consumer claims to enjoy playing. Every year, though, both play it ever more enthusiastically, or desperately, as though neither can escape it.
Retailers could get out of this if they wanted to. Just declare a basic price, stick to it, avoid the increasingly complicated discount schemes and hold sales so occasionally that they're actually special events when they occur.
But then ... who wants to run the risk of chasing away potential customers who have been conditioned to expect some sort of discount all day every day -- especially in such a dodgy economic climate?
Just imagine how ecstatic Marla Stickland was when the tarnished and dusty little Huilier (Cruet Set) she picked up for a mere $10 at a neighborhood garage sale, turned out to be an important antique. She had no idea that such a dull looking item, when cleaned revealed a maker's mark and a bunch of other symbols that once deciphered by Marks4Antiques.com, turned into a sale of $850.
Not only were these marks totally nonsensical to her at the time, but they were dispersed throughout the piece. They were interspersed at various parts of the underside, and looked like initials with a flower, a woman's head, a bearded man's face and other strange looking ciphers. The first thing Marla thought was to use Google and search for all these symbols. But how do you even begin describing all these little images using words and terms, most of which can only be communicated using convoluted and long sentences? She was stuck.
After spending countless frustrating hours On-line, but driven by her intuition that there must be a story in these silver marks, she stumbled upon Marks4Antiques.com. She knew that her cruet set was made mostly of silver, so she thought "if I could at least identify the silver marks, I may have a starting point for more research...". She was right!
Marks4Antiques.com displays all antiques marks in shape categories. So, if a mark looks like a ship, then all marks that look like a ship or a boat, are displayed on one page. If a mark looks like a crown, all marks that look like a crown are listed on one page. The same with animals, flowers, crests, letters and a number of other shape categories. This pictorial method makes it easy to find antiques marks by just looking at images and comparing them.
I'm offended. I'm hurt. (Excuse me while I dry my eyes.)
Deep breath. OK. I can talk now.
I love writing these columns on garage sales and I'm thrilled The Republic prints them each Friday. But I gotta tell you I'm appalled, outright disgusted, by a column one of The Republic's community editions published recently. Gosh, I just don't know how it made it past the editors.
It ran a couple weeks ago in The Chandler Republic titled, "If it's Saturday, it must be a garage sale." The author was Andrew Schwartzberg - a garage sale . . . (sob) ... hater.
Some excerpts: "There is something about garage sales I find just a little bit unsettling. . . . Somehow the notion of paying money for somebody else's junk just doesn't sit well with me. . . . And what of the person whose stuff you're going through? Are they selling you items contaminated with bubonic plague? . . . Creepy."
OK, OK, so the humor columnist doesn't like garage sales. We get it. But, hey, Andrew, I've been there, too. I was once a garage-sale snob. I was reformed, however, when I went to my first sale and bought an old copper boiler. I love that thing. So, Andrew, if you want to experience the "high" of finding a great treasure for mere pennies, I offer some advice for battling your troubling phobia:
Continue Reading.. includes tips.
DEAR ABBY: I have enjoyed reading the occasional letters people write you about the acts of kindness they have experienced. I would like to share one that happened to me.
About a year ago my husband left me. Shortly afterward, I learned that he had embezzled funds from work, been fired from his job, and that our home was in foreclosure and the utility bills had not been paid.
I had been an agoraphobic housewife for years. In a panic for funds, I held a yard sale. That weekend I met quite a few of my neighbors and, in the course of the day, we shared stories of marriages gone wrong. I received many words of encouragement, even as I watched my beloved possessions carted away for a pittance. But the most amazing thing happened that day. A woman I'd never met before came back after the sale, handed me an envelope and left. Inside was $200. I cried like a baby.
Since then, I have overcome my agoraphobia, found a job and an apartment, and have begun the long process of rebuilding my life. I have no way to find that angel to thank her, but I'm hoping she reads this letter and knows that through her act of faith and love she helped me to achieve independence. You are, indeed, an angel, mystery woman! -- MS. B. FROM HORN LAKE, MISS.
DEAR MS. B.: The kind of empathy you described is usually demonstrated by someone who has experienced a similar kind of pain. Doing a good deed for someone in need can be an empowering act -- not only for the receiver but also for the doer. Sometime in the future, you will meet a person who needs a helping hand -- and when you do, you'll pass her good deed along and be a "guardian angel," too.