Over the past four months while working at a grocery store I’ve been earning some side income by flipping things on eBay. The best place to get cheap things is thrift stores. Garage sales tend to be difficult for the same reason record companies work with agents rather than artists: when someone is selling you something from their personal life they tend to have a distorted notion of its value. They bought a video game for $60 ten years prior, spent a hundred hours playing it, and now want to sell it for $30.
Thrift stores are better.
The cheapest one is the Goodwill Outlet. Also called “the bins” because everything is laid out in bins. Pell-mell. Toasters and sneakers and jeans piled together. Mostly things that have been sitting at other Goodwill locations for a long time and this is their last stop before the dump. Clothes are priced by the pound. All media is $1.50.
I went to the Goodwill Outlet a few minutes before it opened and there were eight or nine people at the huge double-wide iron door already. Smoking. Drinking colada. I was wearing my headphones like always but there’s a guy who talks to me anyway. I’ve seen every time I’ve been there. He’s a part-time reseller, fiftysomething, very fit except for a pot belly. He’s got a drinker’s belly. His veins are big as pencils and biceps larger than weights alone can make them. His smile is prescription-size and every day he wears stretchy jeans and muscle tees with political phrases. Today’s shirt was red and said InfoWars on one side and“Trump is My President”on the other, The last shirt I saw him in said “Legalize Freedom.”
Today I was leaning on the rail outside the warehouse entrance and he had his head tilted down and he was smiling over his tiny glasses and he came real close and said, “Can I tell you something interesting?”
He told me the Interesting Thing but I can’t remember what it was. Something about a strongman who came to America on a ship in 1903 and refused to get vaccinated. I think there were two stories. I might be conflating them.
He covers his bald spot with a filler powder and sometimes when it’s hot out and the warehouse is extra stifling you can see his hair leak. I dread seeing him because he talks so much and seems a little unstable. At the same time, I’m curious about his life.
How did he start reselling? Why’d he do it? Does he think the powdered hair looks good?
It’s gotten to the point I think about him when I’m walking places. Wondering if he’s lonely or ill or both. Again: I’ve seen him at the Goodwill Outlet literally every time I’ve gone there–but I’ve never seen him buy anything. He says things about eBay, what sells and what doesn’t. I’d like to have a look at his store. I imagine you could learn a lot about someone by looking at the random things they sell. To imagine that they they woke up early and powdered their hair and drove to a discreet warehouse, sunrise in the middle of nowhere, to dig among strangers over long-discarded goods and that these things in their store, the stuff they’re trying to sell you, these are the things they looked upon and thought: “Value.”
Of the $12 I spent on six pounds of clothes, here’s what sold.
Air Jordan AJ5 Hoodie: Sold on Poshmark for $22 (minus the 20% platform fee, $17)
Wrangler Hero Men’s Denim Jacket, Large: Sold on Poshmark too for $20 (net $16)
Anti Social Social Club Floral Hoodie: Also Poshmark, for $21 ($16 net)