You meet some fascinating people, each with a story to tell, when you own a secondhand shop. They come in to sell some personal treasures in the hopes of securing some needed cash. I can tell when they are reluctant to let go of their items, but some are happy to find them new owners. If it is an heirloom up for grabs, I like to know its history. Some people enrich the object with an interesting background.
There was an elderly man who came in to sell a few men’s watches for under $500. Some were worn and not working, but there was a special one, rather new, that could bring in up to $500. He was ecstatic of course and said for me to display it as I wished. I felt that it would sell within a week. He started to divulge information about the previous owner. He was a count from France who bought it to use for travel as it was a modestly-priced time piece. It was nice enough to wear for dress, but not so expensive that he worried about theft. People often put their watches on the room’s dresser overnight, but they may forget about it in the morning. By nightfall, the item is long gone.
The man told me that this is what happened to this particular watch in England. The count reported the theft to the police and then went about visiting used jewelry stores to see if it appeared. He wanted the watch back since it was engraved and it had a personal significance. For a week, he made the rounds of the shops, some thrift stores like mine. Lo and behold, he found it the last day of his search. He told the owner about the theft and he was promptly given the watch. The owner knew that stolen goods had to be released by law.
The count continued to wear the watch during his travels and one night he left it on the nightstand. The next morning, he forgot to put it on. He left his hotel room and descended the elevator to have breakfast. At the end of his meal, a young woman in uniform approached his table. Mister, she said, you forgot your watch. Now that was an act of kindness. She could have easily made off with the watch to use, give as a gift, or sell. This is what usually happened. After all, he had once been a victim of hotel theft.
I enjoyed the story and regretted it when the man with the watches had to leave. I told him to return in two weeks, which he did. He came in one day and approached me at the cashier’s stand. I told him that all the watches had sold for a profit. He was grateful for the effort I put in, and then he pocked the money. I told him to bring more anytime, not even knowing from where he acquired his inventory.