Negotiating with the Deaf
While driving along Fountain yesterday I spied the coolest looking yard sale on my way to pick up a co-worker for our job working a party in the Palisades. I am a mid-century modern fanatic and my radar can always pick up on it. I’ve seen this sale on Fountain before, a block or two west of Highland, but never stopped by sensing these are pro yard sale sellers and prices won’t be so negotiable. I spied more cool kitsch than usual such as a set of green wakefield chairs, atomic barstools, yellow mod file cabinets, a fabric rainbow wall hanging and a patio set (Brown Jordan, perhaps?) It was only 10:30 am. I was hoping the really good stuff might still be out later. Not everyone is a mid-century modern fiend like me.
Later after working this awesome gig in the Palisades at a charity event where we all got a very handsome tip, then navigating pre-grammy night party traffic and dropping off my co-worker, I was ready to hit the sale again. Sure enough the cool stuff was still there, and lots of it. “Uh oh,” I thought, “They must be charging a lot since everything is still there.”
I sloppily parked my car. It was starting to rain but still light out. There was a gorgeous sunset in the west and I was hoping for a rainbow. The only rainbow I saw was the fabric wall art. I flagged down the seller and he told me the wall art was $100. Despite my generous tip burning a hole in my pocket that price was too steep for me. I remembered we are bordering Weho and rainbows, not to mention kitsch, are popular here. I asked some more prices. He had to go across the street to ask the sellers over there. I figured this must be a joint yard sale. But he had to walk all the way over there, not yell, because the other sellers on the other side of the street were deaf.
Ahh the infamous deaf yard sale. I have heard about this for years and have never been. Because they are deaf they have no problem staying up all night and selling. One of the guys across the street is only partially deaf and the hearing guy on my side of the street could in fact yell to him if only to get his attention, but not always. You can’t read lips or sign that far away.
To be clear there were two deaf guys across the street, one completely deaf and one partially hearing, and one hearing seller on the side of the street I started on. They were all gay (I presume) and all quite savvy about their pricing. Whereas they used to sell a lot of mirrors and more current decor they seemed to have recently switched more to vintage and nostalgiac kitsch (my kind of merchandise.)
The negotiations went like this. It took forever to get prices on things because the hearing guy had to keep yelling and/or going across the street to ask about prices. I wasn’t clear who’s items where who’s. It took frigging forever. I was starting to see that the reason they still had so much product was not just because of their pricing.
I got answers on some prices right away: the 50’s styrofoam wig heads with authentic painted faces were $20 each, the atomic coffee table with black legs was $60 (reasonable – I would take it if I actually didn’t need it), the atomic barstool was $30 but apparently there were two others across the street. I never saw them. When it came to the tin laquered camping mugs the hearing guy had to ask deaf guy if he would go a dollar less for the chipped one. He also had to ask about the price on a lamp and a trunk. I had to go across the street to find the plates to match the tin cups. I wanted to negotiate a price on a coat. They wouldn’t go down. Crazy. There was an amazing daisy painting in late sixties hand carved frame that would have matched a similar one of mine with purple flowers, but whereas mine was $12 at a thrift store, they were asking $75 for theirs. I ended up buying the cups for a dollar less but decided the rest of it just wasn’t worth it.
Neighbors complain about this sale.
I think it’s hilarious. A yard sale that goes all night. They have so much stuff they just keep it out all night for a two days sale. I wanted to go back later to see if the sale was in fact still going on in the middle of the night, but the Grammy traffic was too daunting to deal with. Seriously, the only worst night to drive through West Hollywood than the weekend of Gay Pride is the night before the Grammys because of all the parties in the Hollywood Hills.
I am happy with my camping mugs but to be honest I never would have bought them if not for the nostalgia factor.
Next time I go back maybe I should learn sign language and they will be more willing to negotiate. Everyone appreciates when you at least try to speak their language. They speak mine: mid-century modern.