The title of this post is a line from the film American Splendor. Main man Harvey Pekar is a record collector and sells a few albums on the side. This was pre-Craigslist & eBay days so he mainly hits the flea markets and swap meets or trades with his collector buddies. He has an exchange with crotchety co-worker Mr. Boats in which he’s accused of holding back the primo albums from his collection and only selling the crap that nobody wants.
Well, duh Mr. Boats. Any collector worth his salt doesn’t easily part with the gems of his collection…that’s the point of collecting! And therein lies my dilemma. And yes, as you might have noticed if you’re a regular reader…I have a lot of dilemmas in my life. Apparently they’re my thang.
I recently started listing stuff for sale on eBay. In my first week, I’ve sold four books. All of which were duplicates I’d inadvertently purchased in my quest to rebuild my empire after our house fire in 2011. To this day, I’ll be in the used book store or Barnes & Noble, see a book and think, “I used to have it, but do I have it now?” The answer to that question has been “I already had it” about 15-20 times. So my first eBay listings have been books of which I have multiple copies. My record, by the way, is three copies of the same book. D’oh!
But I don’t have enough of those duplicates to amount to much in terms of sales, so for the past year or so, as I’ve been “planning” to sell on eBay, I’ve been engaging in what is apparently known as “thrifting.” I buy books (and other stuff) low with the hopes of selling them high. I shop a used book store here in town about 3-4 times a week on my lunch hour. I’m not going to tell you the name because Crom knows I don’t need anymore competition than I already have! As it is, I’m regularly having to dodge dudes with their little iPhone scanners and notebooks.
The prices of books at my secret stash range from $1 for paperbacks through $2-$4 for hardcovers. The propreitors occasionally assign “special prices” to things. For example, last week I picked up a NM copy of Chris Ware’s Building Stories boxed set (MSRP $49.99) for $20. And yup…I’m keeping it.
The owners are constantly adding things to the shelves so you have to visit early and often to get the creme of the crop. Probably half of my not-insubstantial, rebuilt library has come from this particular book store. I rarely walk out without a paper grocery bag full of books.
Pre-eBay seller days, everything I bought was for me. Now, as a budding “dealer of stuff,” I’m forcing myself to take a close, hard look at my book collection (among others) & my buying habits and ask myself, “Am I ever going to read that?” To add an encouraging note to that question, the little voice in my head sometimes chimes in with, “Are you even going to be alive long enough to read that?” Hey thanks brain. Way to pump a guy up.
Whenever I have this inner debate, I picture a bitterly cold, overcast December day. I’m ensconced in a massive leather easy chair in front of the fireplace–a couple of cats curled up at my feet (because we just aren’t dog people-it’s a long story). Maybe a cup of Earl Grey steaming on the side table and a Gandalf pipe tucked into the corner of my mouth. Stacked next to me are a dozen or so of those “I Plan To Read This One Day” volumes that now line my shelves. And don’t get me started on the 25 linear feet of war games, wall of comic boxes, and the always growing model kit stash.
So, there’s a temptation to “turn loose” some of the good stuff and put some cash in my pocket. But then, there are reasons to hold on to it as well–my kids for one. My eight year old son’s a bonafide nerd in training and my daughter’s also starting to flirt with the geeky side of The Force. She recently informed me that she wants to lose the pink paint job in her room and hang some Batgirl, Supergirl and/or Wonder Woman posters on the wall.
And don’t I owe it to my heirs apparent to maintain the empire? I mean, what if my great grandkids turn out to be massive geeks? Imagine their thrill one day as they crack open a dusty storage unit (think YourSelf Storage from Silence of the Lambs). But instead of some weirdo’s pickled head in a jar, they discover countless boxes of comics, games, model kits, books, graphic novels, miniatures, toys, and other all around cool stuff from the late 20th to early 21st centuries. My polyeurethane Hellboy’s Right Hand of Doom might just put somebody through college one day!
My kids often ask me what’s my favorite thing in the Nerd Cave (Answer: Inflatable Led Zeppelin blimp). And then inevitably they ask, “What’s your least favorite thing?” I always tell them, “I don’t have one. If I did, it wouldn’t be in here!”
So yeah, I’m really struggling to turn loose the good stuff. Whether I own it already or I see it out thrifting. Which makes it a bit hard to be a niche seller when I happen to hoard the stuff that makes up said niche. Baby steps I guess. Baby steps.
Well, enough navel gazery for today. Thanks for stopping by and as always…stay nerdy my friends.
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