The Yard Sale Conundrum: What would you do?

Mark is a longtime friend of mine.  We met in college and worked together on the college radio station WHCL.  We’ve stayed in touch with each other through graduation and our lives and careers.  Facebook helps, too.

Mark turned his love of music into a thriving business as a record dealer.  He goes to several shows throughout the year, and during the summer he hosts weekend yard sales at his place in Woodstock.  You can always tell when Mark’s having a record sale at Woodstock; the neighborhood is plastered with brightly lettered signs and advertisements.   He even has a “Better Than Free” deal, where he has a pile of crap records that he will actually PAY you to take away.  So if you’re hankering to get that vintage Jefferson Starship album…

Anyway, Mark had an incident the other day at one of his yard sales.  And I’m sharing this with you, based on finding out what you would do if you were in his shoes and this happened to you.

So here’s what Mark posted on Facebook.

Friends, advice sought… (Apologies long post)

A guy comes to the Vinyl Yard Sale on Saturday.

Spends a good amount of time looking through boxes of records, listening to records on the portable player and putting together a pile of priced LPs.
Then he spots a box of 45s deep in the recesses of the garage (and thus not part of the “45” area in the tent). Says “mind if I look?” I hesitate and say “Well, I haven’t seen inside that box in a while and I have not processed it, I don’t know what’s in it and I’ve put it aside for later. But if you find something in there I’ll give you prices.”

He spends a good amount of time going through it and listening to records (and screwing up my portable turntable in the process, but never mind) and brings me a pile. By this time his girl, who has been waiting patiently, has to get to an appointment. So we agree that I’ll go through the pile and give him prices and he’ll come back tomorrow.

So Saturday night I grind through the records and get prices on them. There are a whole bunch of rare 45 promos (AC/DC, Ramones, Kraftwerk, etc), some picture sleeves and a couple of rare garage items.

So Sunday afternoon I send him this:

“LPs come to $117 I’ll do then for $100 cash. Will work on total for 45s shortly.”

He replies: “K…”

Then after about 45 minutes he says: “Any luck on the 45s?”

After 16 minutes I reply: “Coming now.. 14@$5 = $56 and 26@$3 = $52 and mixed others from “free” to lots more = $270 . total $378 do it for $350 cash and I’ll toss in a 45 carrying box. Total for everything $450 do it for $425 cash.”

More than an hour later I get this back:

“I do appreciate your effort, you have the right to price things for whatever wish, but I also have the right to tell you that your record prices are not based in reality…1st you’re not a record store, your a guy w/fun signs selling records from a yard in Woodstock, 2nd…people like to crate dig @ semi decent prices. You didn’t even know you had these! Was I expecting to pay 50¢ each, def not, (more like $200) especially when I’m doing all the work. Glad I was able to help you locate your missing box, next time I should charge you for wasting my time. Good Luck, (name redacted)”

So, how do you think I should reply? Should I even reply at all? How would you reply?

My thoughts?

Mark did this guy a favor right off the bat.  Just because there are 45’s in a box that hadn’t been processed – or was even part of the sale – doesn’t mean that all the 45’s in that box are available for one low flat rate.  What if there was a pressing of the Five Sharps’ “Stormy Weather” on a legit Jubilee imprint?  Or a copy of Frank Wilson’s “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)” on Soul?  Those pressings are freakin’ ultra-rare.  Not saying that Mark had either of those, but selling those rare treats at 50c/pressing is like expecting someone to sell a barn-stored ’67 Corvette Stingray for $75 and towing fees.  It ain’t happening.

And the response from this buyer is just five levels of clueless.  It doesn’t matter if Mark is operating a brick-and-mortar independent record store or if he’s operating his own record store independently.  He has the item, he has the right to sell it at a price that he deems appropriate.  And the buyer has the right to refuse to purchase it, or to negotiate for a different deal.  But not to the point where you actually insult the seller by demeaning his activities or his business.

That being said, I’d like to find out your opinion on the situation.  Did Mark handle the matter appropriately?  Was the buyer acting within his rights?

Use the comments section below and let me know what you think of the situation.