By 1997, I had rented a booth in a small antique shop in a small town on the square. I invited my mother to join me in this new endeavor, as she also had an interest in buying things at garage sales and auctions, then turning around and selling them for a small profit. We nervously began buying what we could find, hoping that we would at least sell a few things, even if it was only for a few dollars more than we paid….it was all just in fun, after all.
Our first month we made over $400! We were absolutely ecstatic and were so proud. All of our antique-hunting was paying off! That first check only fueled the fire in me. I was off like a rocket after that. I got my aching body up at the crack of dawn every weekend, driving around in search of garage sales, trying to beat out all the other antique dealers in town. It never failed, if I arrived at a garage sale at 6am, another dealer had already beat me there by 10 minutes and was walking out with his/her arms laden with all the “good stuff”. It was frustrating at times, but other times I would find such amazing things at a fraction of the price I could ask….I was absolutely hooked, and so “into it”, I almost forgot about how bad my body was hurting.
By the time I’d been out for several hours in the early spring and summer mornings, and be pulling into the driveway with the car loaded to the gills with stuff….I would start to become aware of the pain. But of course, I had to bring everything into the house, show Larry what I’d found, then record my finds in my inventory book and put price tags on each item. Eventually, the adrenalin rush would begin to abate, and I would suddenly realize the stunning amount of pain that was coursing through my body after repeatedly getting in and out of the car for 3+ hours, and running up and down people’s driveways, bending and reaching for their cast-offs. I would finally slow down and come to a screeching halt, and find my way to the couch or bed for a rest.
Larry was very supportive of my new-found passion, but he always would gently remind me not to overdo it….he could see what I could not….that I was completely ignoring the pain signals my body was giving me and totally disregarding common sense, just going on with what I wanted to do and to hell with the pain. When he would suggest that I sit down for a bit before pricing items or running back and forth from the car with my finds….I would say, Okay sure, in just a minute….I just want to get this done first. And I would keep pushing. And pushing.
My mom was enjoying the ride too. It was fun for both of us to see our little 25 cent purchases from someone’s garage turn into a $5 sale. It was a special time that we enjoyed together. But I was the one who was really flying high. I never realized that my little garage sale hunts would eventually turn into something much bigger.
After awhile, I decided to move to the shop a few doors down. It was “THE” spot to be if you were into selling antiques. Specializing in primitive country antiques, this shop was such a magical place to me. I was honored to be asked to join them, so when I had the opportunity to move into a rare open space, I jumped at the chance. From then, my antique passion really began to take off.
I ended up being at that wonderful shop for many years, and it was very lucrative. Much more so than my humble beginnings when I purchased things at garage sales for a few cents. I began to find better things, buying on eBay and we began going to antique markets and malls where there where many dealers selling things that I would just drool over. Sometimes, if I was lucky, I could find a piece or two for below market value, and snatch it up. Then I’d take it to my booth at the shop and mark it up. Much to my surprise, my things started selling like crazy. Evidently the things that I loved, others loved as well, and they were willing to pay my price. Next thing I knew, I found another outlet for my passion of selling antiques.
eBay!! Some friends and I decided we wanted to try our hand at selling antiques online. Although it was scary as hell, we were tutored by another friend who had been selling on eBay for awhile. We took notes, bought cameras, and began! I was so incredibly nervous. I’ll never forget the first thing I sold was an old advertising tin for baking powder. It turned out to be a very, very desirable tin and ended up selling for over $100. I panicked! OMG! I still have to laugh at myself because I was so freaked out about selling this item for so much money, that I packed the thing in a box way too big, and even though I knew it was ridiculous and unnecessary, I still was so afraid that something might happen to it, I wanted to make sure that I did all I could to insure that it arrived at it’s destination safely. I even emailed the man who bought it and said, “Please don’t laugh at the box I am sending your tin in, it’s a little big!”
All this time, I was having the time of my life. I was so passionate about antiques, and I was making around $1,000 a month selling stuff at the shop….I just kept putting my pain on the back burner. I could not, or would not, allow it to ruin what I was doing. I refused to listen to the pain signals my body was SCREAMING on a daily basis. I would just keep on going, keep on running….I think now I was in a race against the clock. To see how far I could push myself before I would literally collapse in wracking pain that would lay me out for weeks at a time. During those weeks, and sometimes even months, I could barely walk. I realized in the back of my mind that I was being extremely foolish, yet I could not seem to rein in my passionate love affair with the antique selling world. I saw that I was actually successful in my endeavors, both at the booth and on eBay….and that only intensified my enthusiasm. I truly could not stop myself.
There began to be some problems that arose after I had been at the shop for so many years…some clashes with the manager became personal and I decided to leave. It was very difficult to separate myself from such a big part of my life, but my “career” on eBay was really taking off, and I found out there was an opening at an antique mall in a neighboring town. I grabbed it, and never looked back. It was bittersweet leaving the shop, but I knew I had finished my run there. I was not only still selling things on eBay on a regular basis, packing & shipping items every week, but also maintaining a booth at a new mall.
The new mall offered me a much bigger booth. I worked overtime along with Larry, to make it look spectacular. I went whole hog and purchased antique furniture as well as smalls to sell, and things started off well. The pain was an ever-present entity, screaming and twisting and howling, but I was becoming a pro at turning off the sound and just pushing forward without a second look. I was almost to the point of putting my mind and what I was involved in, outside or apart from my own body. I know that sounds like some creepy new age astral projection thing or something, but that is not what I was trying to do. I think it was just my own personal struggle to have a life in spite of all that was trying to hold me back. I could not and would not allow anything to stop me from living my dream. Even the most agonizing pain imaginable. I had never experienced pain like I was experiencing at that point of my life. Yet I still kept going.
At times I would need to use my wheelchair, which we had purchased around the time I was getting ready to leave the shop. The staff at the mall was understandably confused….I would be up working my booth and helping Larry move in heavy pieces of furniture, re-arranging things in the booth and then after we were done working in the booth, Larry would get the wheelchair from the van and he would push me through the mall while I shopped for more stuff. The staff never questioned me but I could see the look of bewilderment on their faces. They didn’t realize the inner fight I was fighting every single day.
To be continued…..