I was at a dinner party not long ago, along with my good friend Bob Brunk, a respected writer, historian, auctioneer, and antiques collector, who told several good stories during the evening, two of which were still floating around in my head a few days later.
Both took place several years ago and both were witnessed by Bob in the antiques shops where they took place. In the first, a very elegant lady came into the shop and, after looking over much of the merchandise, asked where the “bargains” were. The dealer pointed to a modest display in the back of the showroom where the lady proceeded to pick out a small, matched cup and saucer priced at ten dollars.
“Will you take five?” she asked after turning it over several times and inspecting it thoroughly.
“No,” the dealer said. “I’ve already marked it down to ten dollars, and that’s the price.”
The lady sighed loudly, then put the cup and saucer back on the shelf and left the store.
About an hour later she returned, and again went to the bargain display shelf and again picked up the matching cup and saucer. After again inspecting each one thoroughly, as if either might have been chipped or cracked while she was away, she carried the cup and saucer over to the counter and set it down in front of him.
“Will you take six?”
As Bob replayed it, the dealer thought for a moment, then picked up the cup in his right hand, the saucer in his left, and did his own thorough examination of the pair. He then lifted both into the air — and simultaneously opened his hands, letting them fall to the floor where they shattered into a thousand tiny pieces.
The second took place inside the shop of a notoriously cranky antiques dealer who always managed to pull some of the finest antiques out of the exclusive Biltmore Forest neighborhood adjoining the famed Biltmore Estate south of Asheville.
On this particular day yet another elegant lady came into the shop and took her time inspecting nearly every piece until she had picked out a large gold-leaf picture frame the dealer had priced at $2250.
“Will you take $1750?” she asked.
“For you,” he suddenly thundered, “the price is $2500.”
Stunned, the woman stepped back, but he wasn’t finished yet.
“And if you ask again,” he added. “it’s $3000.”
The moral of the story: well, you get it.
Until next Monday,
Don’t step on anything you can step over.