The other day I was listening to a discussion on the radio about how the recession has affected ordinary families. One woman had this to say,
I'm cutting back as much as I can. I go to Aldi and Lidl, I'm on online auctions, I use Freecycle, I cut coupons. I don't know what else I can do!
And I couldn't help thinking.
Well you could always consider not wanting so much stuff!
Then I remembered that, as a young woman with a very small budget, I too used to enjoy acquiring stuff.
I loved auctions, jumble sales and charity shops. I was good at jumble sales (sharp elbows) and diligent in charity shops but for auctions it was cunning strategy that was needed.
And it was just such a cunning strategy that was lacking when I spotted the notice in the paper, advertising a house clearance near Glarryford. I was looking for a sewing machine and there were two listed. Surely I'd get one Singer at least? No strategy needed!
In that part of the country house clearances were very popular with second hand dealers and farmer's wives. I reasoned that the farmers' wives at least, if they were keen on sewing, would already possess a sewing machine and that at least one of the Singers would surely be mine. I also decided that dealers would not be interested in sewing machines so they would be no competition.
The auction started in the yard at the back of the house. I was surrounded by grim faced men in tweed caps and their equally grim faced womenfolk. The Singers were lots number ninety something so I had a bit to go. I passed the time watching how other people bid. Seven cushions came up. They were a mixed lot, tatty and well worn, just the sort of cushions you could sweep off the seats in any farm kitchen. The bidding started at fifty pence. Then it went to a pound. Two women were bidding against each other and the price kept rising. The cushions were eventually sold for £12 and if I'd been the woman who lost (wised up) I think I'd have been mighty relieved. But this bidding frenzy for a handful of scruffy cushions rattled me. What if one or more of the farmers' wives couldn't bear to see me get a perfectly good Singer for a bargain price? What should I do? At last my treadle machine was called.
Who'll give me £5 for this Singer sewing machine in good working order?
Oh no! These Glarryford women won't be able to bear seeing me get this machine for a knock down price.
I rang out,
Sold to the woman with no nerve!
So that was my bidding strategy. And it worked.