Search This Blog

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Psychology of Selling Trash

After all this time, why am I still tempted to keep this shirt for myself?
I know Twilight was so 2008, but I still love it all: 
the passion, the romance, the commercialism.
I’m so predictable, but so is the reality that Edward Cullen is and will always be a hottie. 

I used to put a limit on my thrift store shopping, maybe once a week, but now that I’m doing this for a living, I get to shop as much as I want.
And I find a lot of trash; some to keep and some to re-sell.
I find things like this:
I polish this solid maple wood rocking chair up with Old English until it shines like new and re-sell it for a decent profit. 
Underneath the seat of this chair it says MADE IN CHINA – ASSEMBLED IN UNITED STATES.
The economy is stressful and so many people out there need jobs.  We need more things made in America, not just assembled.
I ran into a friend the other day.
“I need to do what you’re doing?” she said.  “My husband and I are struggling and I'd love to be able to make a little extra money.  I just don’t know how to get started and I’m so busy and I don’t really like to shop at garage sales and thrift stores.”

Honestly, if she doesn’t love to shop, then I don’t think this is the job for her.
The love of shopping is what gets me out there as often as I go.  If I didn’t love shopping, then this trash thing would be a real drag.
What is it about the hunt that’s so exciting?
Being raised by a psychologist and marrying a family counselor does this to me.
It makes me evaluate the psychological complexity of certain situations:
Like Shopping Trash.
Let me have a little conversation between myself and my psyche.

Psyche - Laura, what is it you’re looking for.  Is there a part of your life that’s not fulfilled?

Self - No, I just really like to shop.

Psyche – What in your life is void, what is missing?
Self – I think I’m pretty happy, I just love a great deal.
Psyche – Is there a lost piece of your inner-child heart?  What exactly are you searching for?
Self –I paid $1.00 for my “I love Edward Cullen shirt”.  I’m thrilled.  I promise you, nothing is missing now that I have this shirt.
Psyche – But if you’re always looking for something then how can you be at peace with what you already have?
Self – What?
Psyche – Are you going to eat that cookie?
Self – No, you can have it.

I have no problem shopping trash all day long, but I wonder if I’m really cut out for the business side of it.  Before I started re-selling, I still did a lot of shopping. 

What did I do with everything I bought?

Honestly, I gave a lot of stuff away.  If I had a friend pregnant with her first baby, I’d buy her baby clothes on $1.00 day.  A new neighbor, not to worry.  I found her a kitchen table.  A brother going away to college in Utah.  Yes, I found him all the sweaters and coats he could stuff in his car.  

I still give a lot away, but re-selling takes a bit of discipline.  I can’t just give everything away anymore.  A sweet friend of mine was over last week and she fell in love with an orange velvet couch I’d just brought home.  There the couch was, sitting in my garage all fluffed up, ready for me to photograph, put on craig's list and re-sell, but she wanted to buy it from me instead.
Do you know how hard it was for me to just not give it to her?  Selling a couch to my own friend isn’t easy to stomach.  I felt like a trader to my own soul. 

As much fun as shopping trash is, it's also work.  There’s so much to learn and as you can tell by my conversation with self and psyche, I probably need therapy.  Selling trash is not for everyone, like my other friend who was apologetic because she hadn’t sold anything on eBay yet.  If you read this blog, please don’t feel guilty if you’re not re-selling trash too.  

You can still buy stuff new, made in American and pay full price for it. 

If you have the money and there’s something you want, it’s alright to splurge. 
I still splurge, well, on frozen yogurt, but it’s something I pay full price for, well, I usually have a buy one-get one free coupon, but you know what I mean.
Now, I’m going to go hand-wash my new “I heart Edward Cullen “shirt.  I’ve got a date with the counselor for Valentines Day and I know just what I’m going to wear.


  1. Thanks for your blog... I've learned so much! I'm constantly amazed that you can do all the shopping you do with children in tow. I love to shop but taking the kids with me nixes any good plans I ever have. Maybe it's because my 3 year old turns into a wild chimpanzee anytime we enter a store? I spend so much time stressing about keeping her in sight that I cant ever have time to look at anything. I hope its easier when they are older. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks for this post. It isn't easy, but look at it this way. Anyone who goes into business for themselves runs into this issue - where to draw the line between giving away services/goods to friends and family and charging. Any more insights into this? I'd love to hear them. It's an ongoing issue I'd think, though I'm not too far into the process myself.