Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Art of the Deal

Everybody loves to get a good deal. Satisfaction might come from the shopping or negotiating process, or it might be the result that matters, or both. I’m just as happy whether I find a deal or Kim finds one for me. She isn’t that way, however. Her satisfaction comes from the hunt and the kill. The feast afterwards? She could take it or leave it.

The most common phrase Kim’s father has uttered to me over the past 36 years has been, “Mitchell, can I ask you a question?” He never just asks the question. He always asks if he can ask, even if the asking is rhetorical.

But it’s his second most common phrase that is relevant here: “Mitchell, guess how much I paid for these shoes?” Or something along those lines. So, Kim comes by it naturally.

In the summer of 2015, Kim bought a few items at thrift stores and sold them on eBay – mostly pocketbooks and shoes, but a little bit of everything. I shook my head. How could this be fun for anyone, I wondered.

She met with some success. It felt good, so she did it more frequently. By October, I asked her, “How much money are you making at this?”

“I don’t know. I’m sure I’m making something.”

“Wait a minute. You don’t know how much money you’re making?”

“I’m not doing it for the money. I’m just having fun.”

“Okay. I’m going to start tracking your finances for you, and I’ll produce a report every month analyzing your little business.” This was my idea of fun.

“Knock yourself out.”

I determined that Kim was making hundreds of dollars a month of clear profit. Today, she has over 250 items listed on eBay, which means she has over 250 items of inventory in our house. She makes 60 to 80 sales per month, which means 60 to 80 times per month she wraps something up, places it on her kitchen scale, prints her own postage label, affixes the label to the package, and drops it off at the nearby post office. And it means 60 to 80 times per month she purchases something at a thrift store which is worth much more than what she paid. She gets a kick both from buying items at a bargain and from selling them at a significant profit.

I was worried about Kim. She spent so much time taking care of me and molding the minds of those fifth through eighth graders at her middle school. She didn’t have a hobby that she was comfortable spending significant time on until now. As a bonus, this hobby of hers doesn’t cost money. It makes money. We decided to use her profits only for fun items or activities. So far we’ve purchased a robotic vacuum cleaner, which eliminates one of her less fun chores. We went on a trip to Boston for dinner, a show, and a night in a hotel. We gambled (and lost) and spent two nights at Foxwoods. In April, we’re taking in a Red Sox game and spending another night at an upscale hotel in Boston.

Works for me. Works for Kim.

To see Kim’s eBay store, click here.


  1. i used to love going to the thrift store. i worked right near one, so i'd go every few days, usually not buying but just browsing. i got most of my clothes there. it was one of the great losses when i could no longer drive. i never thought to buy and resell, i'm not sure i had the eye for worthy bargains. good for kim!

    1. Stephen, her favorite thrift store is within walking distance of our house. She always loved going, and now she just gets to go there even more often.

  2. I like Kim's tastes! I'd go thrift-shopping with her. Not many people have profitable hobbies.

    1. she has pretty quickly figured out what sells and what doesn't. The products she moves don't necessarily meet her tastes, in fact, we laugh at how outrageous some of the items appear to us.

  3. I checked out Kim's store. Very impressive, packed with quality stuff. The advantages of having a Goodwill with a wealthy catchment area. It's a pity the house across the road didn't fall down - you could have bought the land and put up a warehouse....

    1. instead of building a warehouse we went to IKEA and bought shelving.

  4. I already knew Kim was Super Woman. This is just further proof.