Selling certain items poses a real challenge

Matt Roche • Jun 25, 2010 at 7:09 PM

There are certain things that just won't sell.

I have an old car top bicycle carrier, for instance. I used to put it on top of my '87 Ford Taurus, clamp my bicycle in it and go merrily off to some remote bicycling location.

As I got close to home after such a bicycling adventure, I would keep repeating aloud: "Remember to not drive into the garage. Remember to not drive into the garage. Remember to not drive into the garage."

Driving into the garage, you see, would scrub the car top cargo right off, ruining the bicycle, damaging the car and scarring the house and garage door. I never did it, but it would not have surprised me if I had.

At any rate, I don't use that bicycle carrier any more. So I advertised it for sale.

I got one call.

"How does it attach to the car?" the caller queried.

"It clamps onto the rain gutters," I replied smartly.

"Cars haven't had rain gutters for 20 years," the guy said, ending what had been a brief but pleasant conversation.

He was more or less right, of course. Most modern, aerodynamic cars do not have little channels above the windows to carry away the rainwater which occasionally runs off the roof.

So I now own a car top bicycle carrier which cannot be affixed to the top of a car.

It'll never sell.

I have the same feeling about our movie theater on Main Street. It is a very nice facility, for what it is.

But what it is is a place where people used to go to see movies 50 years ago (I saw "The Shaggy Dog" there as a child and thought it was hilarious.)

There is no way a theater like that will ever make money for any one. The best hope is that somebody will rescue it as a local arts center or something.

But no profit-respecting investor is going to buy it.

Just as sad are some of the marvelous old houses on Main Street. Show places in their time, sellers now wait a long time between offers. Conventional, energy-efficient, low maintenance homes are hard enough to sell. Hundred-year-old beauties with lots of tiny rooms and old-fashioned everything require just the right kind of buyer. And that kind of buyer is hard to come by these days.

And that brings me to "Newsweek" magazine. I have subscribed to "Newsweek" for most of my adult life. I have learned a lot from it. And I have admired the outstanding journalists who staff it.

"Newsweek" has been for sale for the past couple of months.

And, to say the least, people are not exactly lining up to buy it.

As one observer noted, in this era of near-instant communication, something with the words "news" and "week" in its name is a product that is obviously past its time. "Newsweek" is published on Monday with the goal of telling what happened last week.

As you probably know, these are the days when people no longer wait up for the 11 o'clock news because they have already learned what happened almost literally as it was happening during the day from the Internet or from 24-hour news sources such as CNN.

A magazine that tells you the news a week after it happened is obviously an anachronism.

And it will be next to impossible to sell.

I say this matter of factly.

But the truth is, I never know exactly what will sell.

The proof of that came home to me just last week as I made a brief visit to what has become something of an annual event in our family: Beth's Garage Sale.

Every year, there is more and more junk of less and less value.

And every year it ends with her taking a little fistful of cash to the bank.

Maybe next year I will put the garage sale to its ultimate test by offering my car top bicycle carrier for sale alongside the usual out-of-style clothing and VHS movies being offered.

That would be something if it sold.

Of course if it does, we will probably have to hold it until the people go out and buy a car with rain gutters so they have a way to get it home.

Jim Busek is a free-lance writer who lives in Norwalk. He can be reached via e-mail at jimbusek@hotmail.com.

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