Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Masters of Bargaining


New York Old Clothes Buyers Who Are Clever, but Tricky.

There are tricks, of course, in all trades, but when it comes to a dicker heaven defend the wight who has to do with the two men who haggle over "old clo'" in a cellar in Hester street.

A man who has knocked about a bit and thinks he knows fully a thing or two toddled down those cellar stairs the other day with a suit of clothes in a neatly tied bundle under his arm.

"By the light of the solitary gas burner," as G. P. R. James would have had it, "he was enabled to discern" the two storekeepers waiting to begin operations on him. They came at him in a whirlwind of Polish dialect.

He meekly displayed the coat, the vest and trousers, a very praiseworthy collection, which he was willing to dispose of for $3.

"Well," said he to a reporter, "if you could only have seen those precious bluffers! They turned tail and walked into the rear room. One would have thought I had told them I was an escaped cholera patient.

"But I guess they were given the signals for a flying wedge play, for out they came a moment later and abused me like a pickpocket for ever having the nerve to ask $3 for such a mass of tatters and grease spots and old fashion as that.

"I was hurt as well as rattled. I had been fond of that suit and didn't relish hearing it abused. They found rips that I never dreamed of — I swear I think they made 'em — and before they got through I would have sold the whole outfit for a quarter rather than carry it through the streets.

"The men were bad enough, but when a frowsy woman came out and added her slack to the rumpus they were making I demurred. I told her in all kinds of figures of speech to get back to her dishwashing, and she got.

"One of the fellows thereupon offered me 80 cents for the coat and said he didn't want the trousers and vest. I hung off and started to go out, when the other chap said he'd give me $2.50 for the trousers and vest.

"That completed the bargain at an advance on the price I had asked, and I was elated. The first chap wrapped up the coat — almost as good as new — and put it away and handed me the 80 cents. I put it in my pocket and started to do up the trousers and vest man.

"The scoundrel laughed at me and said: 'I guess I don't want that pants and vests already, don't it? I change my mind. I don't want 'em.'

"Then I did raise a rumpus. The coat was gone, and I had only 80 cents, and the vest and trousers I knew I couldn't get a shaving for separately, and the woman came out and berated me for wanting the coat back.

"They wouldn't give it up, and I stormed, and finally they threatened to call a policeman and charge me with having tried to snatch a coat and vest.

"That was a pretty prospect, and I just had to weaken. I've lived on the east side all my life, but I think I'd better settle down and take a few lessons. I'm easy, and no mistake." — New York Recorder.

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