Woe Is Me and The Ethics of Online Selling

Guess who flaked?

That table that I was gushing about yesterday, the one I planned to stain Pecan and add brass ferrules to, is no longer an option. The OfferUp seller who had committed to selling me said table at their asking price, and going so far as to confirm the date and time of pick up and give me their home address, decided last minute to sell to someone else who offered them more money for it. I would have been perfectly willing to go up in price. I would have held out for a bidding war, but this sorry excuse for a seller decided to go ahead without even coming back to me for a counter. Thanks Jupe for reminding us all of how unethical and petty online sellers can be.

In all honestly, I’ve been put in a similar situation as Jupe when I acquired a lovely mid-century modern desk at auction that I really didn’t have room for. I needed to get rid of it fast, so I put it on Craigslist for $100 and the offers poured in. I had committed to a buyer who had offered me $150 for the desk right off the bat. But almost immediately after I emailed them that I would sell, I received another email offering me $150 as well. I emailed them back telling them that I had already committed to a buyer for the same price, and they whipped back an email offering me $200. I was in a moral dilemma, but since I hadn’t set up a pick up yet, I decided to email the first buyer back and explain why I was now going to sell to someone else. It actually didn’t stop there. It became a bit of a bidding war and the final sale price ended up being $250 – though I don’t even remember now which buyer it ended up going to.

I was surprised it went that far and it was nice to have the extra $100 in my pocket, but there are a few things I can say with certainty. I would not have replied back to that second buyer if I had already set up a date and time and given my address to the first buyer. I also would not have switched buyers for a mere $10 more. I got $150 over my asking price of $100. The seller of this table got about $10 and never countered.

Am I bitter about it? Yeah, can you tell? But I also don’t feel like I’m over-reacting by being angry about it. I think that there is a fine line when it comes to ethical selling on these sites and I think that the seller of that table is on the shit end of the spectrum. If you get anything out of reading this, I hope that it’s to be cautious and courteous when selling your things, even if it’s just for pocket change. When you commit to sell and take the final steps of setting up the pick up, that’s it. You made the deal. If you get other enticing offers after that point, you tell them that you have someone coming to pick it up and that if that buyer flakes they will be the next in line to set something up, because buyers flake too and it’s nice to have a back up. Otherwise, if you are getting multiple offers/emails, tell people that you have multiple offers without committing and I guarantee at least one of those potential buyers will up their price. When you’re not a dick, you always win.

So, now I’m back to square one and considering just forking up the money for the matchy-match West Elm table.

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Put’r There

Some people ponder problems like job stress, children, life choices or bigger existential crises. They whittle away hours, days, even months on the same issue, imaging every possible outcome, repeating the process in their head before making a decision. I do this too, only I pine and ponder over pieces of furniture. I imagine my ideal space then work backwards adding in contributing factors like price and quality until I narrow down to a handful of results. Even then it’s not easy.

And forget outside opinions; asking my boyfriend for input on a piece of furniture either results in nothing or an added obstacle for consideration. I was recently thrown a curve-ball when shopping for a new sofa when his input yielded that he would in fact prefer an orange sofa. My compromise was that I would be able to choose the shade of orange and the style of sofa. I wanted something with a mid-century modern or even 70’s feel to it, so orange I could work with, and was lucky enough to find an affordable beauty from West Elm called the Peggy Sofa.

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She’s a beauty.

The color is called Cayenne and the weave of the upholstery, when examined up close, is two colors blended together, a true orange and a deeper brick red color, making for a sofa that looks vibrantly retro in some lighting, and warm and cozy later in the day, evoking the spirit of Autumn in New England. Not quite the Pumpkin Spice Latte of sofas, but perhaps the Cinnamon Dolce…

In the weeks leading up to the sofa delivery, I made another change to my living room decor which has now driven me into wanting to change everything. Why? Because of the small touch of antiqued-brass in the center of each knob.

Sexy.

Sexy.

This wouldn’t be such a big deal if I didn’t have chrome-edged cork lamps and stainless steel cubes, formerly props from a NY dance troupe in the the 60’s, now re-purposed as coffee and end tables, dotted throughout the space. Now, with this warm orange coming in, bringing out the wood tones and playing upon the subtle brass accents, the shine of the steel and chrome just didn’t work anymore. I found myself craving more brass (not shiny brass) details, like a hardwood, mid-century, tapered-leg coffee table with brass ferrules or sabots on the tips. And a bar cart with antiqued-brass details to pull it all together. I found a few great contenders in my initial table search, until I looked at their prices and wanted to cry (sorry, I just can’t drop $3000 on something that I know will get heavy use – actually, I can’t drop $3000 on something that won’t get any use either).

I did fall in love with West Elm’s Reeve Mid-Century Coffee Table – it matched the wood colors I already have in the room, it has tapered legs and brass ferrules… but it’s also shown with the sofa I bought and in my mind that’s like taking the easy way out. Because it’s shown that way, I feel like it’s TOO matchy.

Maybe I'm  crazy.

Maybe I’m crazy.

And, I’ve also been drooling over their Mid-century bar cart, which again, matches every detail in my room.

Too much?

Too much?

If I were to go that route, there’s no doubt in my mind that the room would look warm, clean and polished. But there would be something impersonal about it – like I recreated a West Elm showroom, and I’m not sure if I would feel welcome in my own living room despite every piece being drool worthy. So, I took a step back, and popped over to my old friends Craigslist and OfferUp to formulate a plan B. What I ended up finding for $20 is a Mid-century coffee table in pretty banged-up condition, but with some great potential.

Crossing my fingers that the seller doesn't flake.

Crossing my fingers that the seller doesn’t flake.

I offered to buy it based solely on the photo and confirmed that it was hardwood and not veneered something-else. I did a little digging into the color of the legs of my new sofa and will be purchasing Sherman Williams wood stain in Pecan.

Pecan.

Pecan.

With a little elbow grease and some dust in my lungs, I plan to refinish this beauty and I was considering completing it with some brass ferrules – but that’s proved more difficult than I hoped. A lengthy search this week has given me a few places that make the ferrules, but with MOQ’s not really meant for the end consumer, or a few other sites that charge as much as it would cost me to just buy new table legs completely. So, after reading  a blog from someone who went a little color-dip crazy with everything they own and seeing her rather convincing faux-ferrules that she did on an entryway piece, I decided that’s what I will do, at least until I find reasonably priced hardware as a replacement. I will take photos and blog the transformation.

But I didn’t stop there.

I have an outdoor bar cart that I bought at Target back in May. I used it to plant an herb garden – a project that was embarrassingly unsuccessful and I will continue to purchase my fresh herbs from the market going forward. I’m also going to repaint this, doing the steel parts in antiqued-brass and the composite wood I may have to paint black since its current wood tone doesn’t match my room and it won’t take to staining as it’s not really wood at all.

Why let it go to waste.

Why let it go to waste.

So, that’s project number two. And finally, I’m popping a few towns over tomorrow on my lunch break to check out these ridiculously blue antique chairs. My living room is begging for an occasional chair of some sort. I have two gorgeous mid-century wood chair frames in storage right now, but they need to be completely re-webbed and have new cushions made from scratch. I’ve priced this out at a few places and the cushions alone will be at least $200 per chair. If I do the re-finishing and re-webbing myself, that works out to be a pretty good deal, but it’s also going to be time consuming and I would REALLY like a place for people to sit in the interim. So, for about $35 I can take one of these or both for $60. The seller claims they are in pristine condition and if that is so, I think I’ll be able to get my money back on them by reselling a few months down the road, making them a great temporary solution.

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COLOR!! POW!!

So, perhaps now you can see how I over think things like furniture and how it eats away at me until I crack. But this post foreshadows a few future posts including the coffee table refinish, the bar cart redo and the eventual transformation of two mid-century chair frames. Feel free to leave your feedback in the comments, including your thoughts on if I’m crazy for considering those ridiculous blue chairs…