Here's a plastic file folder box that I found recently in a thrift store near my home -- a store that has a decent used book section I check about once a month. These little plastic boxes are a great way to store handing file folders for projects I'm working on. This one was marked $2.00, so I picked it up and added it to the items I was buying that day.
It felt a little heavy. Maybe something good inside, I thought. I opened the lid. I didn't find used books. Instead, I found vintage video games.
Ca-Ching! I take a couple of the games out. They were sold by Intellivision, probably back in the early 1980s. The packaging is decent, and the stickers and game instructions are still inside.
Yeah! My lucky day I think to myself!
So I head to the checkout table. An elderly lady tallies up my used books and this plastic file box. She picks it up; she feels the extra weight. She unbuckles it. She looks inside, then scoops them up. She turns to her helper like I'm trying to steal them blind.
"What about these?" she asks her cohort, giving me the nod like I'm a klepto.
Young Girl says, "If they were not marked they all go together."
I like her point of view. She is quite sensible.
But Mrs. Stingy is not. She eyes me like a pickpocket thief.
I plead my case. "I didn't put them in there. I thought they all went together."
I stood my ground. If she was going to squash the bargain, I was wondering if I would argue or walk away. Tick-tock, tick-tock went an old clock on the wall above the cash register. It was a standoff.
Finally she relented and put the games back into the box and grudgingly took my cash. I thanked her and she looked at me like I'd taken food out of the mouths of needy children.
I packed my treasures -- old used books I was going to resell on the Amazon Marketplace, plus my vintage video games that would eventually be listed for sale on Ebay -- into my car, and I wondered if I was a smart entrepreneur, a greedy bastard, or just a keen thrift store shopper.
I knew in my heart I was a little of each.
But thinking back to this experience, the small entrepreneur needs to be greedy, hungry to find bargains that will bring a decent profit margin, and to push for good deals all the time. I'm sure there are some workers in thrift stores who look at me as somehow "cheating" the system. Oh well. Let them think like that. I've got more places to seek out great bargains to buy and resell.