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Friday, August 6, 2010

What's It Worth? Depends On Where it is.

Lucy Marmalade and I are still beaming about our trip to Buffalo Exchange. How nice to know that she has a gift card with $250.00 on it for the next year of shopping. We made a huge space in our closets too. Lucy says I'm not allowed to use the term feng shui--and mention that getting rid of stuff releases energy through one's environment. So I won't. But it's true.

One thing that always interests me is the question of value, what something is worth. Everyone who's ever known a dealer in anything has heard "It's worth what someone is willing to pay." In other words, value is determined not by the price tag on the item, but by what someone pays for the item.

Since I regularly go to thrift stores for relaxation and a spa-like feeling, I see lots of great stuff. Since I belatedly discovered the Buffalo Exchange last year, I often buy things that Lucy may or may not like: if she doesn't, I can take it to the Buf for credit. I also picked up a few things I thought we could get credit for: why not? My Goodwill is inundated with merchandise.

That is why I picked up a pair of men's SAS shoes that had never been worn. These are comfy shoes generally worn by old people. They cost around $100.00. I didn't think the Buf would bite, but I bought them anyway. They had been at Goodwill for more than a week. No one seemed to want them.

I also bought a pair of leather pants by Shin Choi, which sported a $538.00 price tag! These turned out to be too small for Lucy. I was sure the Buf would bite.

I usually don't watch when the buyer inspects my offerings: I turn into Chatty Cathy and get annoying. I did see the skinny and ubercool male manager ask the tattooed and also ubercool female other manager: "What are SAS? " "Comfort shoes," she replied, "30." So Lucy got $15.00 in credit. Neat!

When we got home, I looked through our bag of rejects. There were the leather pants, unloved and unwanted. Evidently, they are worth nothing.

Anyone know the technical terms for all this? Any economists out there?


Anonymous said...

I think the technical term is just "value." Technically the definition of value is, "what someone is willing to pay." When we talk about marginal value, it is "what someone is willing to pay for an additional unit."

家唐銘 said...
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Frugal Scholar said...

@nicoleandmaggie--So all those dealers in secondhand this or that had the definition right! Wonderful. Thanks for stopping by.

metscan said...

I believe that your first commenter had the right definition. And after you have paid, the article most likely has sunk in value. Luckily, there are things to buy, which will increase in value, especially art pieces, if you choose wisely. Pick designs from a promising young artist. Buying an apartment at the right time located on the right region, just to name a two.

Duchesse said...

I think the term is "depreciating asset" :)

Leather pants: you can buy contemporary ones still, but the moment when every hip chickie wore them ended sometime in the late '80s. Therefore, they will be back.

Most investment advisors counsel against art and jewelry as sure-fire investments unless you can afford very fine pieces. The unknown-but-promising artist route is a mug's game, described in a hilarious essay by David Sedaris about his parent's "investments" in the '70s.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse--Hey! Thanks for reading during your vacation. The leather pants are current--only a year or so old. They wouldn't take the MAX MARA lambskin ones either. I guess they know their customer.

I had a friend many years ago whose wealthy mother bought her jewelry and art. When friend--who was in her 50s at the time--tried to sell said items back to the same upscale NYC stores from which they were purchased, the proprietors said the items were of inferior quality!

Idee Fixe ( said...

As a former and sometime dealer now, as well as a former shop owner, I can say those dealers were correct of their definition of "value".

I've found it depends with buffalo exchange. Last time I went, they took all the low-end designer collaborations and basics like old navy, but didn't want the really good labels. (No biggie for me as I have severeal high-end consignment shops that were thrilled to take them!) What I want to know is what size are the leather pants and style? I might just buy them off you as I live in them in the frigid NY winters!

Frugal Scholar said...

@Suzanne--The brown are a 6; I think the Max Mara bone ones are also a 6. Both are straight-legged--jean style. Nothing fancy. Let me know if you are interested. And thanks for asking!

Kay said...

cost is what you paid for it.

value is what you got out of it.

That was according to warren buffet!