By Sherry Harris
From Northern Virginia where the weather has more twists and turns than Lombard Street in San Francisco
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
I’m not a big fan of bucket lists but as a garage sale enthusiast there are events I want to attend. The World’s Longest Yard Sale is held every year in August. It follows Route 127 for 690 miles, beginning 5 miles north of Addison, Michigan and ending in Gadsen, Alabama. Portobello Road market is in London and Marche aux Puces de St-Ouen is outside of Paris.
Last spring I finally made it to Portobello Road with my family and my daughter’s roommate in tow. It was packed with people, vendors and food stands — everything I dreamed it would be. As we squeezed through the crowds of people, we heard many different languages. Lots of people shared my enthusiasm for Portobello Road.
My daughter loves elephants and as we visited the various booths we kept an eye out for them. Finally about halfway down the street she spotted a painting of three elephants. We asked the owner how much he wanted and he said 30 pounds which translated to roughly 45 dollars. My daughter studied the painting, hem and hawed, and eventually set it down deciding she didn’t want to pay that much.
After we walked a few steps away, I pulled her aside and told her we could offer him less. She asked how much. I told her we’d try this: We’ll offer him 15 pounds. He’ll say no. I’ll ask what’s your best price and he’ll say 20 pounds. “Do you want it for 20 pounds?” I asked her. “That’s about 30 dollars.” My daughter agreed but asked me to do the negotiating.
We returned to the booth. “Will you take 15 pounds?” I asked. He clasped his arms to his chest and said, “that hurt my heart a little.” I said, “Mine too.” He laughed and studied me. “How about 20 pounds?” he asked. “Sold,” I said. I was shocked it played out exactly as I said it would. But I let my family think I was a bartering goddess.
My daughter and her roommate caught bartering fever. As we continued shopping they begin to ask for a better price. Sometime the answer was yes, sometimes no, some things were left behind. It was fun passing on the thrill of buying something and bartering for a better price.
Do you like to barter for things?