I had lunch with with my daughter on Saturday. Our lunch together was great. But not only did it cost me a few dollars, it also cost me a vintage Tonka toy truck too! It's all part of thrift store shopping, where sometimes timing and luck is everything. My daughter was witness to the whole thrift store drama, watching with amusement as I stressed over the Tonka truck. But while she thought it was funny, I didn't think it was quite so hilarious at the time!
It all started out on a lazy, rainy Saturday morning. It was the kind of day that most people just want to stay home in their jammies and do nothing all day. But that's for wimps, not us hard-core thrifters. So with a little cajoling, I convinced my princess to tag along with me as I hit a couple of thrift store shops. I think it's good for Daughter to see her Dad in his natural element. It's sort of like when family members sit in the audience on that TV show, "Dancing with the Stars" to show their support. (Less TV cameras and millions of viewers. But other then that, it's exactly like it!) It's also good training for daughter, as she shows great promise in being thrifty. In fact, while she was looking in her purse on Saturday, I took note of a bunch of fast food coupons tucked inside. Feeling all proud of my princess, I exchanged fist punches with her and said approvingly, "That's my girl!"
So with my apprentice in tow, we headed out to the thrift stores hoping to score some deals. The first store we stopped at was a complete bust for me. Although my daughter bought, or rather I should say, I paid for three books for her. It was noon by the time we left the store and listening to my growling stomach, I unwittingly made a poor strategic decision. I decided to stop at the nearby Dunkin Donuts for quick lunch. It was a good idea at the time. We had a nice Father/Daughter chat over lunch, gossiping and laughing about family and friends while the rain fell outside. After about a half hour, we headed out to to our next thrift store stop. As we drove along, I shared some of my thrift stores strategies, while Daughter graciously pretended to take me seriously. Arriving at out next thrift shop, I opened the door for princess. That's when the drama began. As we entered the store, I came face-to-face with a missed opportunity! There standing before me was a big guy clutching a vintage Tonka Jeep toy truck he just bought. I stared at the truck like the proverbial cat looking through the window of the fish store! Just about any old Tonka truck will make you money on eBay. This truck was an older model with all metal parts. While newer ones with plastic parts do well too, the vintage all metal models are very collectible. If you find an old Tonka truck at the right price, buy it!
Unfortunately in my case, I couldn't buy this Tonka because it was under the big guy's arm! I continued to shop, pretending to be all cool and uninterested while still watching the big guy with the Tonka. I was hoping he would change his mind and put the Tonka back on the shelf. But alas, it was not to be. He'd already paid for the truck and was walking out the door! I watched glumly from behind the shirt rack as he left. Realizing that our half hour side trip for lunch just cost me a vintage Tonka truck, I made a fist, gritted my teeth and blurted out, "Dunkin Donuts" in frustration! Princess chuckled, immediately recognizing I was channeling Jerry Seinfeld, when he angrilly yells out the name of his hated neighbor Newman.
Now I don't know about you, but when I experience a "just missed it" opportunity it can definitely mess with my head. After the big guy left, I really tried to concentrate on shopping and forget the Tonka, but it wasn't happening. The toy was in my head and not leaving! To further torment myself, I asked the lady behind the cash register how much the Tonka sold for? She rolled her eyes and told me it was priced at only two dollars! I almost screamed out in pain! In one final knockout punch to my pscyhe, the thrift store lady added, "That truck will be on eBay by tonight!" Arrrrghhhhhhh!
That was pretty much it for for me. I went over to my daughter looking for a sympathetic ear to gripe to. I complained to her how the truck was now in my head and ruining my concentration. Daughter laughed and tried minimize the situation, " Seriously Dad, how much could that truck have sold for on eBay?" I began blabbering on, recalling that some of my Tonka trucks sales averaged around fifty bucks or more! Daughter would have been in her rights to slap me across the face and yell, "Snap out of it Dad!" Instead, she employed one of her college psych course lessons, advising me to just put it out of my mind and keep on shopping.
Now if you've ever been in a similar situation, you know this can be a very vulnerable moment for the thrift store shopper. Oftentimes, you overcompensate for the loss and desperately try to find another great score in the store. Sort of like a baseball player in a batting slump, you end up swinging too hard at the next pitch and strike out! Realizing this, I tried to exercise extreme caution as I continued to shop. After a little more looking, I did find a a vintage cigarette lighter for five dollars. Not a Tonka truck, but still something I should be able to sell for a profit of twenty or more. As we left the store, I looked around the parking lot for the big guy with the Tonka. He was long gone, probably already at home posting his truck on eBay!
So I guess if Daughter and I hadn't stopped for lunch that Tonka truck would have been mine. But while I like to beat myself up over a missed opportunity, you know what? The big guy can have his Tonka truck. I'd rather have a lunch and quality time with my princess any old day off the week. You can't put a price on that right? : )
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