Until a couple of months ago we were living at an apartment where we had quite a variety of furniture; I had some hand-me-downs as well as a lot of furniture from Ikea that had already been moved around a couple of times and was already a little beaten up; my girlfriend had a bedroom desk and bed dating from her childhood!
We thought it would be such a shame to throw away this furniture, especially when someone else could benefit from it. That’s when we started posting our stuff on Kijiji, a successful Canadian free local online classifieds.
Why did we sell instead of bringing all of this furniture with us? Well, one important reason is that it simply all wouldn’t fit. Our condo is smaller than the apartment we were living at, and there’s no way we could bring everything over. The second reason is that we wanted to start out fresh.
Selling can be an adventure
I’ve learned that selling can be somewhat of an art, and it takes some skill to navigate the waters of negotiation. Depending on what you’re selling, you could find yourself in a buyer’s market or in a seller’s market, which will affect your relative negotiation power. Negotiation will also depend on the personality of the other party; we encountered many different types during our selling adventures.
The slick negotiator
My first story is about a slick negotiator from Haiti who had come over to pick up my old 27″ TV. He had agreed on a price over the phone but when he showed up he pointed out little scratches on the TV frame (NOT the glass which was flawless) and said we should give him a discount, even though I told him over the phone that it was a 5 year old TV set and I was asking for about 20% of what I paid for it. We didn’t give him a discount, but the story isn’t over.
The parking around the apartment where we lived is complicated, and when he asked me over the phone where he could park I told him that at this time it should be free out front, because that’s what I thought, but I wasn’t 100% sure since I don’t park there myself. The TV was heavy so he needed my help, but luckily my Korean friend was staying with us at that time so being 3 guys moving everything downstairs wasn’t too bad. So anyways, we moved the TV out back and asked him to bring his car to the back instead of carrying a 100lb TV 200 feet to the other side of the building where he was parked.
The roads around our apartment are complicated, too, so it took him 20 minutes to show up… and when he did, he really wasn’t happy! It turned out that he had received a parking ticket for $45. He was really upset, and I felt bad since I had told him that he could park there though I had said I wasn’t completely sure, so he could have checked the signs. I decided to pay $20 and helped him load the TV into the car, so in the end he got his discount anyways! My girlfriend was pissed off at me after that, but she calmed down afterwards and I also felt that it was the right thing to do, since I felt at least partially responsible for it.
The grateful newcomer
Another item that I’m very happy that we sold is my girlfriend’s 20 year old bed and mattress. Both were still in good shape because they had rarely been moved over their lifetime. We ended up selling it to a recent newcomer to Canada; someone whom I believe may have been from Haiti or perhaps one of the french-speaking African countries. He needed a bed for his daughter and he was overjoyed to find a bed and mattress in such good condition; even buying from Ikea would have likely cost ten times the price if not more. The first time he came by was by bus and he needed a taxi to bring the mattress back to his place; the second time he had a friend there to help him, and I helped them move all of the pieces down to his car.
I’m sure the bed has found a good new home, and it makes me happy that he was so happy as well.
Are women better negotiators than men?
Aside from that, there was the Chinese woman asking us if she could buy pretty much everything in the apartment including all the stuff not for sale :), and then there was the Muslim woman who was my hardest negotiator because I sold her our curtains and rods for $15 and brought them on the subway with me to meet her, and somehow she still made me feel like she could barely afford it and that her husband would scold her. I don’t know if that was true or not, but it did make me feel uncomfortable. When she was paying me, first a $10 came out, then a couple dollars, then some quarters, and after a few coins she would look at me and ask if that was enough. Then when we were going into the dimes and nickels I said that it was fine! So, I didn’t even get $15 in the end.
Then there was the guy I sold my queen-sized bed to who called me up and said that his queen-sized mattress didn’t fit, which didn’t make sense, and then there’s my Ikea dresser that people were almost fighting over to get. We were selling it at near full price yet we still had more than 20 replies on the first day! The woman who showed up to “reserve it” grabbed a couple of drawers on her way out after leaving us a deposit, presumably to make sure we wouldn’t turn around and sell it to somebody else! She came by later and we sold the dresser for a very good price, so it was worth it.
So, are women better negotiators than men? When I sense that a man is trying too hard to bring down the price, I get annoyed and resist, but when a woman does the same thing I am less likely to resist. It’s the approach that’s different. Empathy works much better with me than aggression, and women are more likely to be empathetic. At least with me, women might be better negotiators.
Finally, there was our futon which I was selling at less than 5% original price and we were just barely lucky enough to sell it on the last day of our lease… whew!
Giving it away
There’s a lot of stuff that we didn’t sell but would be a shame to throw away. This included all of my old dishes, books that I’ve read and probably wasn’t going to read again, and various other knick-knacks that we just didn’t need or use anymore, but could be useful to someone out there! For things like this, I bring it all to the Salvation Army where I hope it can come in handy for somebody out there.
So, reader, what are some of your stories moving out? I’d love to hear about them! If you ever think of throwing something out, try out Kijiji or Craigslist first! You just might be able to find it a new home.