Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Always. B Be. C Closing.

Jeff, Samara, Lisa, Mayer

BENNINGTON -- It's one for the ages. Yet it's really just one for the birds.

In keeping with today's bird theme -- happy and sad -- the pottery plate with a red cardinal was part of a $1,500 sale at 2 o'clock. I have waited a very long time for a sale of this magnitude to occur on my watch. It happened a little while ago when the lawyer from Florida and his wife went bonkers and bought:

° 3 blown-glass vases
° biggest pottery bowl we've ever had in the gallery
° frog-eye-looking chip-n-dip
° biggest glass bowl we've ever had in the gallery
° the cardinal plate
° rectangular glass plate with upturned corners and lined with flower pops

And then, after he paid for the lot with plastic ...

° large glass sushi platter with rainbow stripes

... that he paid for that with a crisp new benny.

This moment of moments began small.

Mayer and Jeff walked into the gallery, faces caked in sweat, because it's humid as hell in Bennington. Mayer clipped around, alcove to marble counter to back room and back to the alcove. He was hungry to spend cash. He loved the wood cutting boards and picked up several to run his fingers across but decided not to buy one, even though he really wanted one, because he dropped 50 bucks on a board weeks ago.

"I wish I hadn't now that I've seen these."

The women walked in and Lisa -- Mayer's wife -- couldn't get enough and starting picking out this glass vase and that one. Then OH MY GOD! look at that pottery bowl. I LOVE IT! Mayer brought that over too, and this is when the negotiating began. Mayer asked if I would help him out with a discount. That goes without saying and I was trying to figure out how much of a deal I'd give them. Every time I thought I had a nice number worked out, Lisa fell in love with another piece, and Mayer would bring it to me, and I'd recalculate.

I told Mayer I'd give him 15 percent off. He asked for 20 and put me on the spot.

Here's a guy who needs no discount on anything. Flew up here just to watch James Taylor's concert at Tanglewood. But I'd rather accommodate someone willing to drop this much cash than not make anything for Joel and Nina. After letting a few sales walk out the door I vowed never to let it happen again. So my mind raced for middle ground.

"What about 17 and a half percent?"

Mayer was fine with that.

"But shipping is going to be quite expensive," I said.

I punched the adding machine -- total times 17.5 percent -- and told Mayer, who seemed fine with it. Plus shipping, which won't be a cheap penny. That's fine, he said.

It may not seem like a lot of money but life in this gallery is about selling a few mugs here, and a pair of earrings there, and maybe someone will come in and drop 231 bucks. The retail game is difficult, and the despair of sitting in an empty gallery for hours on end weighs heavy on your psyche and becomes deafening.

Anyway, just when I thought Mayer and Lisa were finished, she caught sight of the sushi platter -- HAVE TO HAVE IT! Mayer brought it over and I gave him another hefty discount. He unfolded his wad of cash and peeled off a hunnid.

"I really appreciate you giving me the nice discount," he said.

"I'd rather make $1,500 bucks than lose a nice sale for not trying to make it work out."

"You're right. I could've just walked out."

Jeff, who's a surgeon -- "I'm an artist of human beings," he said -- and Samara have never seen James Taylor live. Mayer and Lisa have seen him 10 or 15 times. I asked them their favorite James Taylor song.

"Up on the Roof -- or maybe Shower the People," Lisa said.

"Yeah," Jeff said, "Shower the People."

For all that, I still don't think this sale gets me the El Dorado.