We continue our 7-part mini-series on selling your stress on flea markets. Today Part 6: It’s all about community. In my previous posts, I wrote about (1) why I wanted to get rid of my stuff (2) how I had accumulated so much of it (3) how we enjoyed our day at the market (4) some practical tips and tricks and (5) some true stories of one man’s trash, that became another man’s treasure.
It’s all about community
As you probably gathered by now, I’m quite fond of flea markets. Sadly enough we found out that they can be harsh place too. Not far from our stand, a blonde woman of about 40 and her teenage daughter had an unused plastic bucket for sale. They wanted 4 euros for it. A Moroccan man offered to give them 1 euro. The lady stuck with her 4 euros and she looked offended by the offer. The guy made a final offer of one and a half euros. The woman refused again, losing her temper. The guy shrugged and moved on. Next thing I heard the woman mumble to her daughter, clearly disgusted: “Always making these ridiculous offers! What we ask is what we want!” The daughter immediately agreed: “Tell me about it, he offered us 1,5 euro, what’s next… a camel maybe?”
I was appalled. Why was that remark even necessary? If you want 4 euros, you don’t sell it for less. No need to get all worked up about it. Besides, judging by their clothes, it wasn’t like their livelihood depended on those extra 2,5 euros. Needless to say, with that attitude, they didn’t sell very much. By the end of the day they had to take their precious plastic bucket back home with them.
So I started wondering: why was it so darn hard for them to part with a plastic bucket? Why on earth do some of us prefer to let our unused stuff gather dust for years instead of letting someone have it for free. It gets even worse than that: some choose destroying their possessions over donating them. What is the reason for this illogical behavior?
We don’t do discounts…
Are we brainwashed by our capitalist-driven society? Are we telling ourselves: “we worked and paid for this, so should the others!” And that’s not only happening at flea markets, it’s ingrained in our culture: Apple would rather destroy unsold stocks than sell them at discount prices. Their reasoning: “premium brands don’t do discounts”. High-end fashion stores rip up ridiculously expensive clothes to keep them from ending up in sales. Just to make stuff “exclusive” for rich people. And don’t get me started the amounts of food supermarkets throw away on a daily basis.
We can’t change our society overnight, but let me offer one small piece of advice. Should you ever consider selling your stuff on flea markets, don’t be miserly or avaricious. Instead keep in mind that you do this to get rid of your stuff AND to help other people out. Why not give some stuff away for free, if it makes for a good match, a good story?
Don’t be afraid to step away from the one-dimensional, profit-driven thinking that has been ingrained in our capitalist society. Flea markets are not about squeezing out every penny. Above all, don’t start comparing what you usually earn during a days work to what you will get during one day at the flea market. Flea markets are about community. They are about bringing different people – different cultures even – together. Garage sales are about meeting your neighbors. Flea markets are about the human stories I described earlier.
Still interested in the financials? Well, we sold about 40% of all our stuff and made 150 euros that day. Enough to cover our expenses for the boxes and go out to eat something. Isn’t that great?
Keep watching our Facebook page for the next chapter in our series: Kicking the habit.
What about you? Do you have a lot of stuff just sitting there? Too many DVD’s, books, CD’s or even old toys that just take up living space? Is your wardrobe bursting at the seams and you still don’t find anything to wear? Why not sell some stuff on eBay, Kapaza or Tweedehands? Facebook also has groups where you can post stuff to trade or sell in your neighborhood. Look for groups called “For sale in (your city / village)”. Or if flea markets seem like your thing, take a peek at a local flea market calendar.