Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Tailgate

The sign said something like ‘follow the Home Depot and win a tailgate upgrade.”  Well, I could certainly use a tailgate upgrade so I’ll check it out.  Why do I need an upgrade?  It’s a long story, but basically because I have no tailgate.  Nothin.

Oh sure, I can wander around and visit a few places on game day, but its not like I have a place like you see on the TV commercials with lots of cheering fans and tents and food and drink to call my own.  Zippo.

Some of you might be asking, what’s a tailgate?  Simply put, it s the party you go to before the big football game.  If you don’t have a ticket to the game you stay there during the game.  And if you win you go there to celebrate after the game.  If you lose, you go there to drown your sorrows and dream of next week.

I’m not a big football fan, but I do love human spectacle. A football tailgate, and its surroundings, offers great spectacle.  There are cheering fans in their team colors.  Tents and grills everywhere.  Good food.  Friends.  Games, music, television.  And of course, beverages.  And did I mention?  Lots of people.  All kinds of people.  Great for watching!

This weekend was a big game.  I had tickets but let someone else use them.  There is something about being crowded into a stadium with a bazillion other people and having to jump up and down all the time that goes against my grain.  And my abilities.  So I went to the pre-game spectacle.  No tailgate of my own, I wandered, observing others.

Ate lunch in the campus conference center and saw the cheerleaders firing up that crowd.  Moved to where the television people had set up their shop and saw the masses that wanted to be on TV.   Waving signs like Hi Mom!  Our Team Rocks.  Their Teams Rots!  Maybe not those words exactly.  Even saw the TV stars close up.  But not the biggest star- Willy from Duck Dynasty.  He was whisked away in a limo with police escort I assume before I got close.

Continued down closer to the stadium and listened to the marching band.  Then stood close as the team arrived and walked the gauntlet of fans.  One giant of a man scared me with his wild-eyed look.  If I were the other team I’d just quit then and there.

Then it was time to go into the game so I moved off into the distance.  Watching people.  There were wildly dressed folk proudly displaying their teams colors.  And looking for attention.  There were happy people.  People still looking for a ticket, or selling a ticket.  One or two fingers in the air.  Crowds pushing in to see the crowd.  Other hanging back, enjoying the beautiful weather.  Classic fall football day.

It’s not all wonderful though.  After the game started and the crowds thinned out, as I headed back to my starting point, I saw the underbelly of the tailgate.  Such festivity creates a lot of trash, and it was everywhere.  Largely in trashcans, but they were dramatically overflowing.  And not in enough places. 

Then there were the people.  Some of who had had too much fun earlier and were now paying a price.  One young lady had passed out on a bench and being hauled off in an ambulance.  Too much to drink.  A young man was riding his bicycle in a very wobbly manner.  A cop nearby made him dismount and walk.  Others stumbled as they walked.  And others were held up by friends.

After the pre-game tailgate the light hearted fun ends.  Then it’s the game and I lose interest.  Until the aftermath.  The winners are happy and shouting as they return to their tailgates or cars.  The losers just want to get out of town.  Me, I win either way because I got to see the show.  But I could still use an upgraded vantage point.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?


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Full Circle

When my kids were very little we often looked for things to do with them that didn’t cost much.  Free was best.  In the fall, on a Friday night, we could go over to the college campus to watch the marching band practice their routine for Saturday’s big football game.  They marched on the practice football field while we watched form the adjacent running track.  Many young families had the same idea.

We could listen to the band and watch them do their fancy footstep work while the kids would run around on the track.  Or play in the hillside in between the venues.  The band seemed to be pretty much oblivious to the spectators.  The baton twirlers and the flag line members got a little more amusement from us as they stood much closer and could see our antics up close.  But they would do their show in front of tens of thousands of spectators the next day so this was nothing for them.

We did this for years.  Then the kids got older and we moved further away.  The band changed its practice location and we just didn’t get there anymore.  We’d thing about it sometimes.  And on a Friday night you could be driving around town and hear their music form far off.  But we didn’t go anymore.

Until this weekend.  Maybe because this weekends game was huge and we wanted to get into the excitement.  Maybe we missed it.  Or maybe it was something to do until we did something better.  I don’t know for sure, bug we went to see the band do their practice thing.

It’s not near the track anymore.  Closer to the intermural fields, but there was plenty of room for sitting on the grass nearby.  We spread out blanket out, sat and watched and listened. 

My oldest daughter, quite the grownup now, was with us so in that way it was like the old days.  There were parents there with little kids who wanted to run around.  And people walking dogs.  And others watching and listening as we were. 

We were on the same level as the band so we didn’t get the birds eye view like we used to from the hillside, but it want too hard to figure out what was going on.  You just could see the formations they were actually making.  Gimmie a G!

It was the same, but different.  Nothing is ever the same.  I wasn’t expecting that.  I anticipated change, and wanted to see what it was.  Still the band.  Still marching and music.  It was just that my place in the circle had changed a little.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?

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Sending Forth

You bring them into your world and care for them.  Provide love and attention and nurturing.  Then one day they are ready to go.  Out into the world on their own.    You’re thinking about your kids going of to preschool.  Or college.  Off to a first job and home.  Right?  I know you are.  Me, I’m talking about the stuff I sell in my store- Living History Antiques.

That’s right.  I acquire these things, wherever, and bring them into my home.  I dust them off.  Maybe polish em up a little.  There are some bumps and bruises to attend to as well.  I get to know their every feature.  And quirk.

And then, I put them into the store to share with others.  The intent is to sell them so that’s a little different from raising and sharing my kids.  But I do feel attached.  Sometimes more than others.

Everything in the store is something I like.  That’s why I bought it in the first place.  But there are some things I bought intending to resell.  And other things I bought because I really liked them.  I mean really.  And there are even a few things I bought, and don’t intend to resell!

It’s these things that I have feelings about.  I want to sell them.  That’s the nature of my business.  But I want to hold on to admire them too.  Everything is for sale of course, and at the right price I will let it go.  Some things just have no room for bargaining though, while others do.

When these things go, it’s a little like sending my kids off into the world.  Difference is, I’ll never see the thing again, but I did have a chance to enjoy it.  With the kids, I’ve had lots of time to enjoy them, and they will always be coming back so I can enjoy them even more.  The things will never change so I enjoy them for what they are.  The kids, they will constantly be changing  and I can enjoy them for who they are, and who they will become.  I love my kids!

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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One for Me, Two for You!

When I’m buying, I have to always consider this one thing.  If I can’t sell it, will I be OK having to keep it for myself?  Don’t buy anything you don’t mind being stuck with.  Although, I take it a little further and just buy what I like.  That makes me happy.  And I don’t have to think of being “stuck” with it.  There must be others out there who like what I do.  And want to buy it.

The other thing I always have to think about is, can I resell it for a profit?  That makes it hard to buy anything that’s really just for me.  I’m always looking for bargain basement prices on top shelf items.  Since my other rule is to buy the best I can afford, I tend to go for the better pieces.  Not broken, torn up, scratched or dented.  Rickety old junk gets passed up.  Unless I think I can fix it and flip it.

It’s hard therefor for me to look at anything as just for me.  I’ll pay for good stuff for me.  And I have gotten a few things that I intend to keep for me.  My personal collection.  I may have to store my personal collection at my emporium, which makes it harder to hold on to.   So, I buy one thing for me, and more like two hundred for you.

The idea behind all of it though is to save it for posterity.  And maybe pass it along to someone else for them to enjoy.  I like to save history.  Both its things, and its memories.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?


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The Call

Every day I carry my list.  You know the one.  The store inventory.  Waiting for a call to come asking me for a price.  Today it came.  First time.  I thought I was ready for this.

They wanted fifteen percent off the price.  I proposed ten.  Then didn’t know what the result was.  The store called to ask what I could do with the price, then hung up.  I felt pretty good about it.  Then got nervous.  What if they quibble over a couple of dollars?  Will the person at the store offer a deeper discount on my behalf?  Should I call back and offer the discount myself?

I’m still learning in this biz.  I felt good about the price.  Someone else will come along with a desire to buy.  Don’t want to miss a sale over a couple of bucks.  Don’t want to give anything away either.  I’m in business here ya know.

It didn’t help that what they wanted to buy was one of my personal favorites.  Oh, I love that piece.  I can’t bear to part with it!  Wait a minute.  I’m in business here.  Right?  The business of selling antiques.

Sometimes I feel like I’m using the store as a museum exhibition space.  Or maybe just as an extra storage space for my stuff.  I love my stuff.  But I need to share.  To sell it and pass it along.  I need to remember that!

It’s all for sale.  Well, maybe not that one thing.  Then again…

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?

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Football and Yard Sales

I live in a medium sized Southern town with a huge, huge, huge college football program.  Top ten in the nation.  Southeastern Conference.  All that.  Big.  And I say it’s a medium sized town because it’s not a big city, but I don’t want anyone to mistakenly think that I live in Mayberry.  Not that I wouldn’t like to live in Mayberry.  I just don’t.

Down here folks call football a religion.  So, during the Fall of the year, you better not schedule anything during one of these “church” services!  If you schedule a wedding for a home game Saturday you might as well just go to the Justice of the Peace.  If he’s not at the game.  No one is coming to your big day.

Same thing happens with yard sales.  Last weekend there was no home football game.  I found at least thirty yard sales to go to although I probably only hit about twelve.  This weekend was a different story.  Home game in the early afternoon.  Televised.  Ninety-two thousand fans filled the stadium.  There were only four yard sales, and yes, I got to all of them.

Not everyone cares about football.    They might not consider that when scheduling their yard sale.  Not everyone can get tickets to go to the stadium.  They may watch on TV.  Or listen on the radio.  Either can be done during a yard sale.  Most yard salers hit the streets early so they can do the yard sale then, if they choose,  do the football game.  Maybe.

A football game isn’t like a movie.  You don’t just show up five minutes before the start.  There is the whole issue of tailgating.  For some this means camping out over night.  For others it’s cooking all day.  Or drinking.  For others there are just a lot of things to do that are associated with the game.  It’s a whole day affair, no matter what tine the kickoff.

Slim pickins at the yard sales on a football Saturday.  But unless I’m goin to the game, I’ll go to the yard sales.  Flip a coin, yard sale, football.  Tough choice.  I’ll try for both!

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?

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The List

Busy people make lists.  Each in their own way.  Some people use their phones to keep up with their lists.  Others use paper and pencil.  I’m the type who makes a list with anything available.  Whenever I feel the need.  Paper napkins are a favorite.  Or church programs.  Maybe a shred of paper I found in my pocket, part of yesterday’s list.

These lists get updated with new things to be done.  Some things stay on the list for a long time, getting done very slowly.  Old lists are lost or discarded.  The real list is kept in my head.  I just write it down to keep it at the front of my mind, rather than in the back.  The things that get done slowly are the ones in the back of my mind.  Or the ones that are part of a not fully developed idea.  I keep a list.  It’s around here somewhere.

Now I have a very important list.  One I have to keep filled with details.  And updated on a regular and frequent basis.  It’s the inventory list for my store, Living History Antiques.

I’m good with Excel and I’ve made up my own little spreadsheet.  I have the item number, based on sequence of acquisition, and a description, the price paid, how much I’m asking for it, what it sold for, and when it sold.  Oh yes, and the last column.  That one tells me whether I’m going broke.  It’s labeled “Profits.”

It’s gonna take a few more sales until I hit a profit overall.  I’ve made money on everything I’ve sold, all one of them!  But I’ve spent a few bucks collecting all the stuff I have in the shop, so I need to sell a couple of things.

The list tells me where I am and what I have.  It gets longer every day.  I keep it on the computer.  But I also keep a paper copy in my pocket.  To write lists on.  And to have available should the mall people call with a question. 

“We have a buyer who’s offering such and such for that awesome thing you have.  Can you do that price?”  I need to know what I have in it.  Most of it I actually have in my head.  And for some things, going with what I have in my head, correctly remembered or not, would be ok.  But this is my business, and I need to be right.  Can you imagine selling a fifty dollar item for two bucks because I got confused?  Bad business.

So I keep the list with me all the time.  And panic if for some reason I don’t know where it is.  Yes, I can make another copy.  But what if they call right this second?  That’s unlikely, but it’s part of the business.  I know I’ve bought stuff that required a call to the owner.

Busy people, and successful people, keep lists.  And I do too.  That’s part of my story,  What’s yours?

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