Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sometimes the Contents are Not What's Expected....

The estate sale ad intrigued me so I ventured  way out of my comfort zone and normal stomping grounds this morning. The Dear Departed once worked for Cactus Records, Houston’s legendary independent record store. 

The neighborhood was very gloomy – a down at the heels subdivision  firmly on the downhill slide. 3 bedroom brick starter homes built in the mid 1970s. The neighborhood is now mostly  poor and  Hispanic, lots of rentals and foreclosures and gang signs spray painted on the fences. It was not the kind of house you’d associate with anyone who worked at Cactus Records. I saw some pictures of The Dear Departed  and she was about my age. I suspect she lived there with someone else- maybe an aged parent. When I think Cactus Records I conjure up an eclectic house in Houston’s eclectic neighborhood with artsy furnishings and funky art, not a soulless tract house in the wrong part of town.

The estate dealer – I’ll call him Joe is not known for his pleasant demeanor and he was in rare form today.

To start with he left the E for east that belonged on the address. Another would be attendee and I meet up at the wrong address. We called and got the correct address and somehow the other attendee managed to get us in the door early. He was from New Jersey and he was pissed and he let Joe know it. I got included because I was the one with the phone number & the GPS.  He was a record dealer and I'm not so I was no threat. 

I think the Dear Departed had a home business making and selling bootleg DVDs. There were way more mailers in that house than the average person keeps. There were boxes of DVDs in those multi colored cases you can get at Office Max. All looked just a little “off” and it was very apparent they were copies. I left those but came away with an 5 foot high stack of original box sets – all new and sealed which the Dear Departed hadn’t gotten around to copying yet.

There were indeed lots of books, most worthless –many books published Dover.. Shelves of books on ancient Egypt but all by popular presses. I am pretty sure 2 someones lived in the house since the book subjects were very diverse. Far left wing crystal reading and far right Obama is Satan books on the same shelf. One of the someones liked genealogy and I found some  local New England history books that I’ve sold before. I had first crack at the books for about half the shelves and then the guy who buys for Brazos Books  appeared. He turned his nose up at my scanner but decided maybe I did know something when I picked this from a shelf he’d already gone through:

Iver Johnson's Arms and Firearms was such a good find that 3 people tried to buy it from me while I was standing in line to pay.

Nothing was priced and nobody could price anything but Joe . Joe had 2 different check out stations – one manned by his mother (old and clueless) and another by an ageing queen (fussy and clueless) Everyone and everything had to wait for Joe and  everyone was grumpy, especially Joe. Joe was running around cursing everyone and being as rude as possible to the buyers and assorted Hispanic men he’d hired to do the hauling and the translating. 

 The buyers were pretty clueless too – they managed to block a number of driveways along the street and tow trucks were summoned. You can only imagine how blue the air turned once wreckers showed up.

It took forever to pay – in fact I think I could of easily walked out with my haul, it was such a disorganized mess. I went into the “polite, sympathetic and understanding” mode I use with another dealer and it worked. He looked at my stack and said “$125”. The gun book will more than cover that so I paid and ran.

There were several cases of jewelry on the lawn (the house was so tiny) and I couldn’t get near it. It also wasn’t priced and the folks around were in a feeding frenzy. No records at all, though the ad promised records. Joe locked them in his truck because he didn’t want anyone to look at them unless he stood over them to guard them. Which he couldn’t do because nothing was priced. The record buyer folks were angry – can’t say that I blame them. It was a long drive and they went away empty handed.

My grand total ? $2,228.00. Not bad for 3 hours of work! 

 I’m very glad I got up early on a Saturday and that I took chance in an unfamiliar part of town.