For some reason, (surprise, surprise!) I have not been able to concentrate on writing at all for the past few weeks. I have been totally dedicated to selling our goods on Trademe (our local on-line auction) preparing for our garage sales, throwing stuff away and having farewell meals with friends.
Trademe is hard work. After taking photos and measurements, deciding on the price and whether or not to have a reserve, then writing a description, the item goes up for sale. It is important to be honest about the condition of the goods, without killing interest. Photos are good, because they can be used to illustrate problems accurately. From there on it is a matter of checking the site and answering questions that are usually asked by people who have no intention of bidding at all. It is very frustrating.
The secret is to get the opening price right. Low enough to encourage a start to the bidding, yet high enough to close out the “tyre-kickers” – and there are not a few of these around. (Often the ones who ask difficult questions that are time-consuming to answer, see above.) Setting the asking price is difficult because I believe we all suffer from a common ailment known as “over-estimation of the value of our possessions”. Bidders suffer from the opposite syndrome – “anything up for auction is worth nothing, but we will offer the bare minimum we can get away with no matter how fabulous the item is.”
Many traders, indeed, put no reserve on their goods and start the bidding at $1.00 with no reserve. It is not hard to find fridges, for example, with 5 or more bids reaching a selling price of around $6.00. I think that this is really a way of free dumping, but there you are….
Fortunately, every so often, an offering will be snapped up by someone with wonderful taste and an un-erring eye for beauty. All, then, is right with the world. They pay the correct price or even more without arguing, they come and pick up and enthuse mightily. They even ask if you have anything else they can look at. Bless them – they may even buy that something else! Fate seems to arrange that it happens often enough to keep us interested in keeping going with the exercise which would, otherwise, seem futile.
Anyway, slowly we are moving stuff out. We have had two garage sales on successive Saturdays – fun times as old friends from Hospice came to assist. This method of re-cycling old junk (or maybe not) seems to be losing ground, though. Years ago, people crowded to sales like this in their hundreds. Tales were told of punters arriving and knocking on the door in the dark hours before dawn and the advertised 7 am start. Not so now. The only consolation was that although visitors were relatively few, those that came spent well. All the excess was taken by our friends from Hospice to sell in their shop.
Our next tasks now, are to pack those clothes that are travelling as excess luggage and to prepare for the packing company people who are coming next week. Inexorably, time is ticking away and it is now only 6 weeks or thereabouts till we leave New Zealand.
There’s an awful lot to get rid of on Trademe between now and then!