Friday, April 3, 2015

A few thoughts on liquidation venues

One of the hallmarks of a robust ecosystem is that every joule of energy, every ion of potassium, every molecule of amino acid is hotly contested for by a multitude of "pathways".

Picture from HERE
When a towering forest giant falls in the rainforest it is attacked by termites, ants, worms, grubs and thousands of species of fungi and bacteria.  The nutrients that were part of the giant are quickly freed and become available for other trees.

One might look at a tropical rainforest and assume that the soil must be exceptionally fertile.  That is incorrect.  Nearly all of the nutrients needed for plant and animal growth are already claimed, locked up, in existing growth.  The rapid growth of plants in natural, tropical regions is a tribute to the efficiency of the termites, the ants, fungi and bacteria (carrion eaters, dung beetles, flies, ad nauseam).


Economies also need recyclers.

In the home economy, clothing becomes obsolete as children out grow it.

More affluent household pursue ever more capable game systems and computers, thereby making their perfectly functional "old" system least to them.

Sometimes a hobby is given up and all of the support equipment is no longer needed.  Perhaps a truck was sold and the former owner has a cap or a tool box but no truck to put it on.

People die and leave estates that need to be liquidated.

People fall upon hard economic times and need cash-money.

Sometimes people just decide that life will be better if they deballast, streamlining and simplify their lives  (Example of a fellow blogger streamlining).

Businesses face all of those challenges as well.

Asset liquidators create markets.


Auctioneers advertise.  Their name recognition pulls a clientele of bidders. 

Auctions set a price for an asset when the "second" bidder stops bidding.  The first bidder might be willing to go much, much higher but the price is set when the "second" bidder drops out.  Another dynamic is "feeding frenzy".  Both of these dynamics are enabled by a crowd.  A good auctioneer will play that crowd like a finely tuned fiddle.  A little bit of razz-a-ma-taz.  A goodly bit of sing-song.  "Yuping" and "barking".   A few corn-ball jokes.  Little snippets of information about the item being sold.

Virtually anything can be auctioned.

Free entertainment at its finest.

Thrift shops

Thrift shops either sell on consignment or take in donations.  In many cases, those donations can be written off on one's taxes.  Usually, donating "stuff" is more a matter of reclaiming space than doing awesome acts for humanity.  Whatever the reasons, thrift stores are an efficient conduit of goods from those who have much to those who have less.  My brother the accountant tells me that every square foot of space a home owner frees up is worth $70.  That is big incentive to clear out "junk".

Mrs ERJ recently slipped a book into my reading pile:  Thrift Store Saints, (Meeting Jesus 25 cents at a time) by Jane Knuth.  Jane started volunteering at a thrift store in Kalamazoo, Michigan in spite of massive trepidations.  The book is a compilation of 19 short essays on lessons she learned along the way.  Jane has a gift for capturing "people" with short sentences and simple words:
"She shifts from foot to foot glancing around hopefully at the racks of used clothing in the store.   Her medium brown, straight hair is tied back severely in a ponytail, seeming to stretch the worry lines on her forehead and at the corners of her mouth into deeper crevices.  She wears no make-up, and she is of the age where makeup helps a great deal."
Thrift shops create a market (i.e., develop a clientele) by selling a consistent set of "products" at predictable, low prices.

Pawn shops

Pawn shops are a combination of bank and resale store.  A good pawn shop is like a Christmas tree afloat on a sea of surprises.  A bad pawn shops smells of despair and good clutched too long, too tightly.

Pawn shops have two markets: bargain seekers and the person who pawned the goods.

Mechanics and retailers of durable goods

Mechanics, gunsmiths and retailers of durable goods can be good venues for shoppers.  Repair people have insights into how well the previous owner takes care of things.  They often know the maintenance history of the item.

Sometimes a screaming deal can be found by giving a young mechanic a couple of St Pauli girl posters and a case of good beer....just to keep their eyes and ears open.

Private liquidation venues

Garage sales

I love them.  Mrs ERJ tells me that I cannot buy more stuff at a garage sale until I lose some of my stuff.


Growing food producing trees is one of my hobbies.  Much of my stuff, maybe even most of my stuff, originated as "gifts" from other growers.
Acorns from Lucky.  These acorns are HUGE by local standards.

Just last week I received a package from Lucky in Kentucky.  The twigs may have been twigs he had to prune off anyway.  The acorns and nuts may have been slip hazards that he had to rake up anyway. For the most part Lucky is in "pay it forward" mode.  He just asks that those who receive his gifts be open to doing the same.


Picture of Hercules for Belladonna

Jumping for Joy:  Hercules' reaction when he learned that Belladonna had landed safely in Florida.


  1. That's a big ol' dawg. Good looking fellow, though.

    1. He is about eighty pounds. In this picture he has about 30" of air beneath him.

      We are NOT the favorite house for delivery men. The dogs have always stayed in the run, but it is clear that the fence would only slow them down a little bit if they were motivated.


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