Karma

Willy-Wonka

Sometimes you have to do the right thing, and hope you just get some good karma out of it.  If I was as ruthless as some people think I am, I would have a ton of money.

For the second time in a year, something I bought came up as stolen.  When I buy something, I have to report it to the Attorney General’s office and hold it for 2 weeks and then I get to sell it.

I bought this necklace, held it for 2 weeks and went to sell it last week.  The guy I usually deal with was not there, so I said I would be back.  I was going to stop by yesterday, but I figured I would wait until Wednesday when I had more time.

This morning I get a call from a woman looking for her grandmothers necklace.  I remember it right away, and unfortunately I still have it.  I could have said it was gone because it was in my legal rights to sell it over a week ago, but I told the woman she could call the police to pick it up.

Sometimes I think I should have just claimed it was gone, but unfortunately I have a conscience. I really don’t want to melt someones sentiments, I don’t want that kind of karma.  Also, if it was gone, she would not be able to press charges on the person who did it.  Usually in cases like these, there is some involvement with drugs where the child steals to get money for drugs.  The only way to get the kid help is to press charges, so it is a domino effect.   If I say I don’t have it, the kid goes free and can steal something else, buy drugs, and possibly OD.  When I say I have it, hopefully the kid will get forced into rehab or some type of help and can possibly change the direction of their life.

You never know, so I will store up some good karma and hope I never need it.

Get that out of your mouth!

Get that out of your mouth! As a mother of a 3.5 and 1.5 year old, this is a phrase I say often.  You would think I would remember to do that myself.

This week, I went through more silver scrap.  As a reseller, my favorite thing I get to do is go through buckets of silver jewelry that is heading to the refinery.   I get to see all sorts of things, all different pieces of jewelry.

I saw these “items” in my last “picking”.

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I love unusual things.  Anything that grabs my eye, I have to grab.  The item to the right is hollow, and I thought “This is a strange whistle” and I put it to my mouth to see if it worked.  DUMB.  I am dumb.  In my defense, these two items were not together when I pulled them out.  I didn’t see there was a tiny spoon to go with this “tube”.

As soon as I did it, the woman who works at the shop where I do some picking said, That is a coke straw!  Now I have no ideas how many nostrils touched this item, but it went in my mouth. YUCK!  I learn lessons everyday, and this one I will not forget 😉

Lessons on Losses

I recently read the book “Black Privilege, Opportunity comes to those who create it” and one of the principals is: There are no losses, just lessons.  I find this to be true, and it happens to me constantly.

A few months ago I bought a diamond ring.  The ring was ok, just about a carat.  To be honest, I don’t like buying diamonds.  I get a little intimidated because I don’t have the grading skills needed to be the diamond business.  Diamonds are a very competitive business, I would rather just grab the low hanging fruit on the tree and stick to silver.  I find the return on smaller items better than that on the high end items…but that is just me.

A woman came in to the shop with her grandmothers diamond.  I knew this woman’s husband who passed away last year.  I let emotions get involved and I ended up paying too much for the stone.  She said she wanted $500, but I thought I could get more, so I paid her $700.  I never talk a customer up on price, but I let my feelings get to me, and I wanted to help her out.

When I went to my diamond guy, he said the most he could pay was $500 cash.  It was not like he was low balling me, it was my fault that I didn’t notice the stone had a small chip on one side. (LESSON ONE: For future reference, many jewelers will hide chips under the setting prongs)  Of course I didn’t want to take a loss, so I negotiated $700 in store credit instead of $500 cash.  With the store credit I purchased more silver out of his scrap bin. I figure this would be the way to turn the loss into a break even and then into a profit.

I ended up getting lucky.

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I pulled this Historic Navajo Arts & Crafts Guild cuff out of the scrap for about $40 from the credit.  I was going to put it up for $125, but I did the research and saw people asking crazy prices for it, so I figured why not ask something crazy myself!  I put it up for $999 or best offer, and within a day I got offered $700,  Ca-Ching!  I ended up turning the loss on the diamond into a profit.

I was proud of myself for the score, but I ended up not doing enough research on all the items I pulled out of scrap.  (LESSON TWO:  DO YOUR RESEARCH EVERY TIME!!)  Just like I didn’t do enough research on the comic book score a few months back, this time I let a signed silver piece of jewelry slip by.

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I listed this yesterday, a Sterling Silver shetland sheep dog brooch.  Even though I saw it had an unusual hallmark, I didn’t bother to research and I put it up for $35.  It sold quick, and to another dealer.  The hallmark I didn’t bother to research is Thomae & Co.  The person who bought it from me has similar brooches (Dogs from different breeds) up in their store for $250.  So, while I am happy I turned $4.50 into $30, I would have been happier turning it into $200.  I still sent it out to the woman who bought it.  She will make 6 times her original investment.  I can’t hate on that, it is the game we play as hustlers. I usually get to be the one turning the better profit, but lesson learned.

Corporate Communications

I worked for my family’s business for a while. It is a communications company, installing phone systems for businesses. Some of the best saying in business I learned from working there.  One of my favorites was from my Dad.  I’m not sure where he got this gem, but he would say  “The ass you kick on the way up the latter is the same ass you will kiss on the way down .”  My dad is great at saying, he has a great Irish wit.  He actually used that ass kick/kiss line in a corporate letter to one of his suppliers.

His business letters were epic.  One time I was going out to Arizona for training.  The class was a two week certification course, and many of the technicians went to the class before I did.  I can’t remember what happened, but the my father was upset with the school and wrote them a letter.  In the letter he complained about the cost of the class, and he closed the letter with “All this money spent for a school that doesn’t even have a football team!”  He sent that letter out before I attended the class, and when I got there plenty of employees told me they passed that letter around the office.  He was sort of a legend.

About a month ago I got a call from a marketing company, All Points Media.  They asked me if I wanted to use their envelopes for when I pay people in cash.  I wasn’t interested, but the man said “What if I pay you $50 or $100” so I said yes.  He took my information and said he would send me $50, so I said “Send me the $100, why would I take $50 when you said $50 or $100” so he laughed and sent me the envelopes.

When I got the envelopes, he asked me to send him photos of the display.  He emailed me this…cash jacket sample pic

And followed up with this text….

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I was thinking about my Dad’s letters, so this is what I sent back.

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I thought it was funny to send a “Hit the Dab” picture with the envelopes taped to my chest.  I figured he would get a laugh.IMG_9784

I am glad to have made someone laugh, and pass the communications through out his office.  I guess I am following that Hurley tradition of non traditional corporate communications 🙂

Fake it till you make it

It is just about my 4th anniversary of being totally on my own.  It almost seems like a lifetime away, and such a difference in my life.

The first week in December in 2014, I decided to “fire” all my employees.  I technically can’t call them employees, and because I am still being sued, but I have no other vocabulary to use with the guy who used to work at my shop.

I can remember how scared I was the first day, week, and month when I was out on my own.  I had no idea if I could make it on my own.  I still have moments, but there is nothing like walking into your shop, having your own business.

My friend Nick just did this profile on me and he sent it to me on a day that was sorta slow.  I day I  made no money.  Watching this made me feel proud again.  It didn’t matter that I made zero that day, some days you  make nothing, but there is always potential.

I watch this and think about how far I have come.  The day I opened the shop myself, I was petrified.  I was afraid of failure, but failure was not an option.  I wouldn’t exactly say today that  I made it * but I can guarantee I won’t quit until I do.

 

**Making it to me would be having a car with heated seats.  I don’t know why I feel that is so luxurious, but I do.

Wet Cement

Strange things can spark a memory.

There has been a ton of construction in Warren, and it seems like most of it at my front door.  This week, the city decided to redo my sidewalk.

Looking at that wet cement reminded me of my childhood. I remember when my father put an addition on the house I grew up in.  In the cement he placed a penny and drew a shamrock.  Irish Pride.  But my dad is married to my Portuguese mother.  When my mom found out he put a shamrock, she was angry there was nothing to represent her heritage.  So my dad went back and added a bowl of Portuguese soup in his drawing.

I went back to that house I grew up in (now abandoned and  possibly condemned).  I couldn’t find the bowl of soup or the shamrock, but I did find the coin.  1981, it has turned green from oxidation.

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I also found this with my brother sister’s names

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I am sure my name was there somewhere, I just couldn’t find it.

I did find it a few streets up at my Aunt’s house.  I remember this day like yesterday!  It was in 1990, 27 years ago!  It is amazing how fast those years went.

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My uncle was doing a patio in the yard and he let us all put our hand and foot prints in the wet cement.  My cousins and me and my sister put our signatures.

So when I saw the sidewalk getting poured next to my store, I couldn’t let an opportunity like this pass.

I wanted to do a coin because I am a coin shop.  One of my favorite thing to follow on instagram is accounts of hobo nickel carvers.  There are some amazing artists carving coins, and it combines 2 things I love, coins and art.  I have even commissioned one coin, a morgan Silver Dollar, from “Hobo Shane” for my shop…

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My store mascot “Zippy” coin was carved in under a day.

(If you are interested in hobo nickels, check out “Roman Booteen” one of the most incredible artist I have even seen)

I figured I would be able to carve my initials pretty easily……WRONG.  Here is my attempt at carving my initials in a coin..

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This is “TLH” with the “L” running through the “H”.  I probably was using the wrong tools, but I decided to put the coin in the cement.  I figured I would do “TH” as well.  It was sort of hard because there were police directing traffic and the sidewalk had caution tape all over it, so this is how it came out.

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The town will be coming back in the spring to fill in the space between the sidewalk and my parking lot, so I will have another opportunity then.  In doing this, I found this website where people post things they find in cement.  Awesome Wet Cement Check it out.  I am already thinking about what to put in the cement next…a lego mini figure? If you have any suggestion, let me know.

 

 

Daily Texts…

I see so many people writing each day in November about what they are thankful for.  I have so much to be thankful for, #1 being a healthy and happy family.  I hustle, I make enough to get by.  My wife gets to stay home with our girls, and most days she sends me a text with pictures of the girls and what they are doing.

This morning when I was leaving for work, Sidney said “Don’t leave MaTaya” and she blocked the door with some toys.  I said “Baby, I love you sooooo much, but I have to do some stuff to pay the bills. I’ll be back.”

Just a few minutes ago, April sent me a pic of them doing Christmas Ornaments.

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I am so thankful for text messaging!  Some days work is tough, but when I get to see these pics of the girls it makes it all worth it. I am a better provider than a nurturer, so I am happy that April gets to stay home and nurture these girls.  We really do make a good team.

I looked back at the past messages and here are some of my favorite shots 🙂

Here is one, just after Halloween with some face paint.

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This summer was full of walks, and I loved getting these texts 🙂

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Lots of playing in the dirt 🙂

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This one made me laugh out loud!  It is meme ready….

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I have sooooo much to be thankful for, and getting these texts are great reminders of what a great life I have been gifted.

Darn you Harlequin!

Two weeks ago I went to a hoarders house and got a ton of books and comics. (See that blog here) It was a bit overwhelming, I drove around with my car full of comic book boxes for over a week.

I tried to go through the boxes, but there were soooo many. I couldn’t fit them in my shop, so I tried to go through them in my parking lot. It was very cold, so I ran through the boxes looking for 10 and 15 cent covers and any Cool looking Wonder Woman covers. (Eventually my goal is to frame some cool covers and decorate my daughters’ room with powerful images.)

These boxes took up so much room. I couldn’t even see out of the back window of my car, so I decided to do a quick flip.

One of my regulars, Randy, wanted 2 boxes. Then he called John, who sells at the flea market, to buy the rest. Somehow one of Randy’s boxes got switched and he called to ask if he could get it back. I had already loaded Johns van, so we unloaded and found the box of Batman comics that Randy left behind.

While we waited for Randy, John went through the box. I have very limited knowledge of comics, I usually only look for first runs or low cover prices. John started going through the box full of mostly Batman, and says “If you have #12 of Batman’s Adventures, that is the first appearance of Harlequin. That is good money”. Not even 20 seconds later he says “Bingo, here it is!”

This comic is from 1993, for some reason I figured most first appearances would have happened in the eighties or before.

Unfortunately, I had already made the deal. I looked up past auctions on eBay and saw it sell from between $250-$700. I had just sold it for probably less that 10 cents. OUCH!

Randy came in and John says “Did you see this one?” And Randy said “what is it? I just grabbed the Batman box because I know that title sells”

Randy kept saying he didn’t know there was such a valuable comic in the box, he was sorry, and he would cut me in on it when he sells it. I actually believe him, he is one of the few nice and honest guys I know in this business.

I have heard in life there are no loses, just lessons. I learned I need to take my time and do research. I do blame myself, but I will say if it was summer I would have taken my time to go through the lot…and probably not found it anyway

Holiday card

This week we went to JC Penny to take our holiday pictures. Originally, we didn’t have any plan to do an actual photo shoot for the card. We were going to use random candid shots like we did last year…

I just happened to find a few extra dollars in my pocket, so went to Target and picked out some cute Christmas Jammies and then over to JC Penny. We didn’t have an appointment, so we booked the next available and went to get lunch.

For some reason I thought it was going to be easy. Dress up the girls and snap some pictures, how hard could that be? Well it was like herding cats. It was impossible to get them to stand together, they wouldn’t look at the photographer, Sidney kept running out of the room.

April said “I want the girls to have good memories more than good pictures” right as I was about to lose my mind.

I can remember taking the Christmas picture every year and how I hated it. Check out this one from 1982…35 years ago!

My mom had us all dress up in our monogram sweaters and line up on the spiral staircase that went up to Colleen’s and my room. Check out the aftermath photo:

Yup, that is me crying😂. I honestly don’t remember getting through any Christmas photos with out someone crying….usually me.

I am happy to report there were no tears shed at our photo shoot. I really didn’t think we had any good shots at all. I even tried to talk April into skipping out when we were waiting for the photos to download.

Luckily April talked me into waiting and checking out the photos. They were hysterical.

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out pretty good. It is funny looking at them. It had only been 10 minutes since the shoot, where I was so frustrated and angry, but looking at the pictures made me laugh.

The guy showing us the pictures was laughing out loud. He said he loves the pics of the little kids because they are always funny…and he said these were some of the funniest.

Another lesson learned. When you think something is going to come out horrible, give it a chance. Perfection is boring, Imperfection is funny if nothing else.

Hoarders House

This week I got to buy out a hoarders house.  I go into many houses, but this was one of the most impressive collections I have ever seen.

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There was not one spot on any walls that were uncovered. The man who owned the home was placed in a nursing home because he had started to show signs of dementia.

I have gone to the home two times, filled up a pickup truck both times and my SUV one time, and still haven’t made a dent in the collection.

I deal with a good amount of collectors, and it is interesting to see how people display the items they collect.  One toy dealer who visits my store weekly, puts everything in plastic bins and keeps them hermetically sealed in storage.  Not much fun if you ask me. Sure, his collection will hold value, but I don’t think you get much enjoyment out of your items if you are hiding them away.

The man who owned this home, he displayed everything.  Sure, his items lost value not being in the original packing, but he got to enjoy them.  By the time it came to sell the stuff, he was in a nursing home any way, so did it really matter?

I got a ton of books for Amazon, and 13 boxes of comics.  It is going to take forever to go through everything.  What is interesting was when I got the house, within 5 minutes I thought there was no chance I was going to buy anything because it was so overwhelming.  But after spending a while going through things, I was able to buy some stuff.  It was hard, back breaking work, carrying 200 pounds of books out, but my father alway told me you can make money doing what others refuse to do.  I think the majority of people who would walk into the house would have walked out just due to the smell.  Hopefully the patience will pay off, I am sure it will.

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These pictures are from the cleanest and most organized part of the home, the owners office, where he would customize many of the action figures.

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