Tag Archives: antiques

Come All Ye Hagglers Near and Far, A Warning Take from Me

Two or three years ago now, a pair of women who said they were visiting the area from out of state were browsing cookbooks and crafts. When the time came for check-out, one stepped forward with four books in her hand.

“I want these,” she said, indicating three of them, “but I don’t want to pay $6 for this one.” She held up a local cuisine cookbook in pristine condition. “That’s too high.”

Her manner being somewhat brusque, I swallowed my rising hackles and said, “Tell you what; I’ll look it up online and see if I can come down a bit.”

I looked it up. The cheapest price was $9.

Now, had I had a better cup of coffee that morning, been less annoyed by her assertion that I was trying to cheat her, or otherwise not found myself suddenly holding the upper hand, I might have just shown her the screen and said, “Do you want it for $6 now?”

Instead, I said, “Well, whadda ya know?! It was priced wrong!” Then I crossed out $6 and wrote in $9, smiled less sweetly than saccharine-like at the woman, and showed her the online price range.

“I am assuming you don’t want it any more?” My voice probably sounded like honey dripping off a razor blade.

Her friend laughed out loud. “Caught in your own trap!” she crowed, which I suspect did not make the poor embarrassed woman feel any better. She paid for her other books, her friend paid for hers (without haggling) and off they went.

Looking back on the moment, I suppose I should have been grateful she was buying inside a bookstore at all. But used bookstore owners, antique store owners, handmade craft sellers and other people who hear on an hourly basis that their prices are too high, that they’re dealing dishonestly–well, we have been known to snap. You want honesty? We can give you honesty….

So hagglers take warning: when you ask “Would you take less?” you might get more than you bargained for.


Filed under bookstore management, humor, Life reflections, publishing, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA

Sorry for the Delay, Kinda

I’m sorry about missing yesterday as a blog-writing day, but I had an unexpected appointment. Jack was scheduled to record radio programs at WETS, the university public radio station across the border in Tennessee. He does a month at a time ahead and Celtic Clanjamphry runs Sunday mornings at 7.

Impulsively, said, “Hey, come with me and we’ll go out after and get lunch and walk around the antique stores in Kingsport and have a general good time.”

I hesitated. “You mean, like a date?”

Jack scratched his head. “I don’t remember if that’s what you call them, but we can pretend we’re not married and just starting to like each other again?”

“Darling!” Men in general tend to have romance as a recessive gene. Jack… well, he’s very good around the house and he tells funny jokes.

In honor of the occasion I looked out a linen dress that is form flattering. Just to make sure it still fit from last summer, I slipped it on – and discovered my handy-around-the-house husband had washed it in warm water with the other white laundry. The built-in slip hung two inches below the somewhat tighter dress.

Jack cut the slip off with my crafting scissors and gave me an appreciative look; apparently the curves worked just fine.  Smirk.

The next morning he wore a good flannel shirt over a clean tee, and I knew we were going to have fun, fun, fun til Mommy took the t-shirt away. So we raced down to WETS, whipped out his three radio programs, with me a guest on one just for fun, and tripped off to lunch at Jack’s favorite Indian restaurant.

Which is closed on Mondays.

Okay, regroup and find another curry house. We did, and sat outside in the sunshine, but as Jack pushed felafel around on his plate, I could tell he was being a good sport. Asian yes; Middle East, not so much for him.

Never mind; off we went to Kingsport – where the recession had not been kind. Jack and I remembered it as a land of never-ending bargains, true antiques among kitsch, shop after shop.

Now many teeth were missing from this downtown’s smile; empty shop fronts boasted low rents; inside the antique stores, shopkeepers greeted us with hungry eyes and appraising glances. Browsers or buyers?

Browsers, it turned out. For whatever odd reason, antiques become luxuries in a recession; prices had gone up instead of down. Way up. When we saw a simple folding metal music stand like the one I use for my harp music, priced at $70 (got mine for $10) we packed it in.

But as we wandered, somewhat disappointed, out of the shops, Jack laughed and pointed. Yarn bombers had been at work. Tree trunks with knitted casings. Statues sporting shirts. Here and there a random wraparound, crochet stitches stretched to capacity.

Jack grinned. “Day’s not a total loss. You got to see yarn. I got to see you in that dress.”

Ah, such a nice date!


Filed under Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA