To say the least this past week has been stressful and eventful. And now here I am traveling at 39,000 feet on my way to Florida to buy yet another train collection. I'll tell you what though, my golf clubs are along and I am taking an extra day because I need some non-train activities after this past week.
It all started when I received a call from an individual not terribly far away from my home town of Erie, Pa. But it was far enough that I didn't want to travel without seeing a list. So the list came in the mail and I got excited! Not only was it interesting, but I got sexually aroused as I looked through it. (Just kidding, but almost!)
After going through the list for some five hours or so I finally came up with a figure that I thought would be very fair for both myself and the seller.
So a week ago Monday I called the guy and gave him my offer. Well not only didn't he like my offer, but I could hardly get a word in edgewise he was so upset. I tried to figure out whether maybe I had made a mistake or he had sent me the wrong list, but even after calling him back I figured that he was a very optimistic person. That was very disappointing to me, but who knows he may come around at some point when he finds that my offer was fair.
Now my week got better when I received an e-mail the following Thursday. Back in August I had received a list of trains from an individual who had to sell his collection in a hurry. I had looked through the list and almost fell down when I discovered his asking price was 100K where the list came to 101K. Worse yet his individual prices were high with old data. I try to work as close as possible, but 1% is a little to much, especially when I figured the 101K was at least 30K high!
Last that I remembered from this collection was that the asking price had been reduced to 75K. Almost down to retail!
Thursday I was working on something important when I received this e-mail. I was surprised to find that it was the same individual who I had given up on back in August offering the collection to me for 40K because he had to sell it soon. He was moving.
Immediately I replied and asked him if I could get back to him the next morning after I had time to work on it more thoroughly.
This is where it gets bad, so if you have a bad stomach or don't like horrific details, don't read further!
The next morning I called him and was about to ask some questions when he told me that he had sent the list out to some other buyers and was waiting to hear from them. The only problem was he had offered it to them at 45K. This upset me a little because I had come to the conclusion that I would buy the collection for his asking price. I'm not wild about people that offer, then take the offer back. But I knew in my best interest I'd better play along, so I agreed to wait until he had some time to talk with the other parties to see what they were going to do.
The only thing in my corner I figured was that I had told him that I could pick the collection up the following Sunday. Well like I said he was moving and had to move it fast!
So for the rest of the morning I sat on the edge of my seat trying to find something to do to take my mind off of this situation, thinking that I still had a pretty good chance.
Then it came. Almost like an atomic bomb had fallen on our store I received another e-mail. Basically it stated that the other party had offered him somewhere between 45K and 50K, so if I could offer him somewhere in that ballpark, he'd sell it to me since I could pick it up that weekend.
That was the shortest reply to an e-mail I had ever made. I can even remember exactly what I wrote to this day, even with my memory! N-O, in capital letters. Not another word. I was getting just a little tired of this game, and Jean will tell you I started to get really mad at this point!
I was pounding on my desk shouting, ‘I want to buy this collection'! By this time I had drawn a crowd in my office as Joyce and Jean stood there looking at me as I sort of slumbered down into my seat feeling completely defeated. That was it. I need inventory, and this guy is going to turn out to be an Indian giver.
Best I could I went back to work. I can't remember what it was I was doing, but I was almost over that stabbing pain in my gut when suddenly I received yet another e-mail.
Now we were approaching warp game level as he told me that even though the other individuals wanted to pay him more, he would sell the collection to me for 43K or keep a couple of sets.
At this point I started to write a really nasty e-mail, but Jean stopped me. I can remember her yelling while shaking me by the shirt, ‘Now Charles, if you are going to be a professional, you'd better act like one.'
I agreed with her. I'll tell you what, secretaries like her are hard to find, even though she won't let me call her my secretary. (She's the Auction Administrator.)
So instead of sending that nasty e-mail, I just didn't do anything at all. I have some pride, even though I am a train dealer! And I just was not going to go a dime higher than he had offered it to me for the day before.
I had sort of forgotten about it by the time it was almost time to go to the gym. With all this stress I had to go to the gym! And then I received yet another e-mail asking what I was going to do.
OK, this time I did answer him more or less saying it's 40K or I'm out.
I can distinctively remember the next e-mail. OK, it's a deal. Get the truck.
Truly one of the most grueling deals I have ever negotiated. And just as tough as it was to deal with the guy over the Internet, it was a total pleasure dealing with him in person. A very, very nice guy to say the least. (Before meeting him I was a little scared that perhaps I'd travel all that way and find that he had given me a fake address)!
Now there is a little twisted epilogue to this story. This morning before I boarded this plane I received an e-mail from a good customer about a large collection that appeared on the Internet. I immediately looked at the auction only to find a train collection that was being offered for 45K from the same city that I had just purchased this one from. I almost fell over laughing!
OK, so you see why I am so glad I am now on my way to Florida on this trip. What timing! Sometimes it is very difficult being a train dealer!
As soon as I return to Erie we will be changing our shopping cart software. I am hoping to have the changeover by around the 22nd of this month. Now as with all changes, there could be some problems at first. Of course we will do our best to iron them out as soon as possible as we have most of the problems on choochooauctions.com.
I am really excited about this software as you will be able to register, we will be able to do more with special discounts to those registered, gift certificates, and other nice features.
And don't forget to check daily for ‘newstuff' as this new collection I just purchased will start appearing there. Actually I already have added around 60 items from it before I left town. There are over 800 pieces, so you can bet there is a whole lot more to come! And of course this collection I am purchasing down in Florida will be included as well.
Oh, hey, look there. I think I see Savannah. We are almost there. I can't wait! Golf, drinking beer, gambling, getting in trouble, oh, yea, and that train collection too.
See you when I get back!
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