Thursday, August 03, 2006

Treasure Hunt

So I’m up on the ladder, minding my own business, happily scrapping paint off the bracket (it has been decided that it is a bracket and not a corbel) when out of the corner of my eye I catch a red truck turn the corner and pull up behind me on the street. A voice calls out, “Are you still looking for doors” . The voice is Sheri’s but the truck is her husbands. Sheri, you may recall, owns the antique store down town and sold me the pocket doors last year at a ridiculously cheap price.

I climbed down off the ladder and walked up to her truck. She tells me that Gary is running an estate sale and has some old doors. Gary owns another antique store in Old Town. He has a sort of bad reputation but has always treated me well. Some refer to him as Gary The Pirate. Gary’s shop is the place I call The Junk Store because it is filled with so much junk you can barely walk around in it, but there are some treasures to be had. In fact, I bought a set of 1880s copper plated pocket door locksets there for $5.00!

Anyway, I said, “Hell yea I’m still looking for doors” . I don’t go in to Sheri’s shop as much as I used to but every time I do go in she asked me what I’m looking for this time and I always answer the same, “Oh, nothing really, just browsing, but I’m always on the lookout for Eastlake Doors” . That’s why she came over and told me about the doors when she saw them.

She said she saw them yesterday and was going to stop by but she had car trouble. That’s why she’s driving Hubby’s truck. I ask where the sale is and she can’t quite remember the cross streets. She says it’s just off Fairfield on one of the “little streets”. Fairfield is only about 12 blocks long and runs along a bluff just above and parallel to one of the main drags in town. There are a series of short little streets that jut off Fairfield but they only go less than a half of a block before they reach the edge of the bluff. Sometimes a street may only have two houses before the bluff. I figured I’d just hop in the truck and drive around Fairfield and I’d find it in no-time. There is not much area to cover on Fairfield.

At this point I should note that I’ve been working on the North-East corner of the house. I know that the rest of the world is broiling in a heat wave but Eureka never broils, bakes, sizzles, burns, or scorches. It’s like we live on another planet. In fact, when Sheri pulls up, I’m wearing Long John’s under my jeans and I have two T-Shirts on with the outer one being long sleeve. The sun came out today, but if you get in the shade it can still be chilly. When I’m up on the ladder, in the shade, with the wind coming off the bay it gets down right cold.

I don’t think that I should strip down before I go, I just hop in the truck and start driving. I get to Fairfield and start driving around and there are a lot of signs. You know how it is with garage sale signs, people leave them up for weeks. It’s not something you notice until you are actually trying to read all of them. Intermingled with all these are signs for the estate sale. The estate sale signs are large and made of thin paper board. Because it is breezy they are all curled around the poles and you really can’t read them. I’m driving up and down Fairfield, turning on to every “little street” I see and I don’t see any stupid estate sale. Because I still have the Long Johns on I am literally sweating my you-know-what’s off. I’m getting very aggravated.

The whole thing starts to get a little frustrating. On top of this my old POS truck has a funny thing with the brakes. The front right tire tends to brake harder than the rest. You don’t notice it with casual driving, but this wasn’t casual driving. I’m driving hard and braking fast as I turn on to every one of these “little streets” and make a zillion 3-point turns. Ever time I hit the brakes hard the front right tire locks up and screeches. It’s a little embarrassing.

I finally decided to pull over when I see one of the curled up signs. I get out of the truck and walk over to it on the power line poll and unscroll it so I can read it. It says 2150 Fairfield. Ok, so I drive to 2150 Fairfield and there is no estate sale. There are 2 little old ladies in the side yard listening to 50s rock and roll while they work in their garden. I ask them about the estate sale and they say it’s around the corner but it’s been shut down for the day. Crap!

I walked around the corner and sure enough there was a lot of stuff still laid out in the front yard and a sign said, “More Inside”. Leaning up against the side of the garage I saw 4 doors. Sure enough there were 4 Eastlake doors in very good condition. Very little paint and most had a full set of hardware. They were absolutely beautiful. All 4 were in better shape than the 8 or 10 doors I had up in the door room at home. Most would need just a light sanding and would be ready for paint. The best part is, they are all 32-inch doors. Perfect for the bedrooms.

I went back to the little old ladies and asked them if they knew what time the sale started tomorrow. They said 10:00 AM. I got in my truck and started driving home, all the while plotting my return the next day. I wanted these doors bad. It would be tough to make it there at 10:00, though. I figured 11:00 would be the earliest. I started to get antsy. I’m running scenarios through my head trying to figure out how I can get their earlier. I decided one thing was for sure, I needed to show up with cash. It was about 4:30 so I decided to swing by the bank.

I turned down E Street and headed towards Old Town where my bank is. It then dawned on me that Gary’s shop (aka The Junk Store) is in Old Town on F Street. It’s only 4:30 and if he’s not at the estate sale then maybe he’s at his shop. I headed to The Junk Store.

I got a parking space only about a block away and quick-stepped it over to Gary’s shop. When I walked in he was at the counter with his back to me. I sighed deeply. Gary turned around and I asked, “Are you the one running that estate sale over off Fairfield”. He said, “Yes, I am”. I said, “I’m interested in those doors”. He said, “Oh, you’re the one Sheri told be about”. God bless that woman.

Ok, so the doors are essentially mine at this point. However, I am genetically incapable of paying the asking price for used goods. Gary’s no fool, though. You don’t get a nick-name of “Gary The Pirate” for nothing. I ask him how much he wants for the doors. Gary says, “Well, most of them have hardware and they’re in good shape” (he’s selling them) “how about $45 a piece” . I don’t want to insult him and he knows I really want them. If I go too low he may say the $45 price is firm. I say, “How about $160 for all 4”. Gary pauses, his mouth opens, and he looks up at the ceiling. He’s doing the math in is head. After a few seconds he says, “Deal!”. I tell him I’ve got to run by the bank and he says he’ll meet me at the estate sale house in 20 minutes.

I run by the bank and grab $160 and then head home to get off these stupid, GD, Long Johns. I am absolutely dieing in these things. I get to the estate sale and load up the doors before Gary arrives. As I’m loading a woman pulls up and calls out, “Oh, you got the doors, uh?”. She goes on to say she’s looking for Art Deco stuff for her 20s bungalow. She has her eye on some clothes rack some place. I went back to loading the doors. Just as I finish Gary pulls up. I hand him $160 for the doors and we shake hands. As I leave he’s haggling with the lady over an old clothes rack.

I head home and unload my treasure. I’m now the proud new owner of four 32-inch Eastlake doors with hardware. If anyone asks, I’ll say this was a good day.


StuccoHouse said...

Score. I love snagging deals like that (or reading about others who do).

merideth said...

ok a. good for you for haggling...b. in the bay area you wouldnt have found such things for under 200 each...c. gooorgeous!!

Greg said...

Yep, 4 years ago at Ohmega Salvage in Berkeley I saw an Eastlake door just like these only no hardware and in much worse shape for $200.

Larry said...

Why can't I have a local Pirate, too? LOL