Saturday, May 13, 2017

Annual Garage Sale day - Ya got any bikes?

Every year in May, my neighborhood puts on a garage sale day where there are over a 100 garage sales on the same day - see map above.  I am not in need of a new project but I have found bikes on this day in past - Takara's to be exact.

A lovely road bike that started off as a $25 garage sale find.

And a same day clean and flip city bike.

So even though I don't need a project bike it seems rude to pass up an opportunity that is served up on a platter - a 100 garage sales within a 3 mile radius of my house, how many have old dusty bikes?  I am going to be picky though, only the right bike for the right price.  And to insure I don't get stupid I only take $40 out of the ATM.  I have too many current projects to be reaching for something that isn't a great deal.  The neighborhood blog hosts a registration page for Sale day and folks who register can write a brief description of what they have to offer up.  I find 4 targets from the list with Bicycle in the their write up  including one that even said "Vintage bicycles".

Now I should probably state my own garage sale philosophy,  IMHO a garage sale is an opportunity to get rid of stuff you no longer use and/or need that is taking up space in your abode,  and as a bonus people will come to your house and PAY you for the right to haul away your unwanted stuff! No Goodwill or dump runs, they come to you and pay you! So you price things accordingly and you make a little scratch but more importantly people think its a great deal, want to buy it and take it away.  Now if you come across an item or two you think have real value, you research it via google and list on Ebay or Craigslist rather than the garage sale.  Again, that's just me and I am beginning to think my viewpoint is in the minority.

80s something Schwinn World Sport step through
On my way to the first two listings, which were close together and only had kids bikes, I spot this Schwinn and stop for a look.   Scanning - mid 80s Schwinn World Sport, ladies bike, cotterless crank, updated saddle, mostly appears "all original" i.e 30 year old tires, cables, chain etc. remnants of bike light or computer on the bars - just the mount now.  Solid, might be a decent city bike conversion, what's the price on the tape attached to the saddle...$125.00.  Ok, back slowly away, its still early and the sale has only been going for about 20 minutes maybe I will come back around, but really $125! I might only ask $50 more than that for a completely overhauled bike of this vintage! ok I know, I need to raise my prices but do you actually want to sell this bike?  In my head I imagine this scene unfolding behind me as I walk back to the car....

Jeanna, aged 43 and mother of 2, watches the stocky gentleman in the ball cap walk away from her bike, " oh good " she thinks "he left, that was close, I've had Wanda the world sport since college and I told Brad (husband) he would put her out in this sale but I will be god damned if I am going to let her go for a song! He priced her at 25 bucks,  really! as if my life history is worth 5 freaking lattes, but I snuck a one in front of the price -take that Brad!, I had some awesome times on Wanda and I will again!"

The next two places I check no longer have bikes including the one that advertised Vintage bikes, I guess the earlier bird gets the worm as we are only 40 minutes in, oh well.  I again spot a bike in front of a sale and stop, first I wait while a coltish teen boy examines the bike with his dad but after they move on I wander over to take a look.  Its a Cannondale, an H800, hmm not familiar with that model -I had a R800 road bike from Cannondale, anyway its been converted to a single speed and its priced at $100. It seems in nice shape but I don't need a ss, I am not into Aluminum anymore and its just not speaking to me.  I am curious enough to do some research later, the H is for Hybrid - duh - and its Cannondale's cross training bike from the early 90s, when that was a thing.  1993 Catalog shot below, note the funky dropouts..

the H series
 In my head.... Dave watches the man of about his own age walk away from the old Canny, the second person to do so in the last 5 minutes "did I price it too high? I thought that kid was gonna bite" he thinks " To me it feels like 1993 was a few years ago -not a quarter century! Henry the 8th was an awesome commuter for all those years, even did an STP* once, what was I thinking converting him to a single speed like I was some hipster college kid? did I forget West Seattle has Hills for cripes sake!  man I really gotta stop talking to myself.....wonder how the Mariners are doing? must be the 3rd inning by now"

*STP = Seattle to Portland, an annual ride of about 200 miles.

After the Cannondale,  I went by my Daughters track meet to watch her run and was headed home when my ex texted me a tweet from the West Seattle blog, they were showing an old Schwinn Varsity still for sale, that was nice of her to think of me and since I had time and the address I swung by.

Schwinn Varsity
I'm not all that interested in Varsities although I did think the other day that it would be cool to find a Continental to rebuild and experiment with converting from the American one-piece (boat anchor) crank to a standard 3 piece crank as I have seen done in a few places.  Anyway, what the heck lets take a look,  I don't bother to scan much, its a Varsity, I've rebuilt one, seen a ton of them, this one has the stock fenders which is nice, the tweet had no price so I glance at the tape on the saddle....WTF!... $200.00!  The homeowner is just over there behind a table of household items, I think for a nano second about going over and inquiring about the bike but I quickly realize how its going to go, I am not going to be able to keep the snark out of my voice and if I make a counter offer, no matter that its informed and reasonable, it  will seem like an insult based on where he has started, in short I'm going to seem like a dick, and I don't want to be that guy, not today, not over a Varsity I don't really want, so I just walk away.....

Dave, a successful marketing manager, shakes his head as the clueless man walks away from the bike he has out in his front yard.  "I can't believe people don't know that old stuff is valuable! Don't people watch antiques road show or Ca$h in the attic? I'm sure its rare, I can't believe no one is buying this bike, maybe I priced it too low?  Sarah keeps complaining about having to move it whenever she wants to get to something in the garage but I know its worth a mint!"

Down the street I see a couple more bikes, turns out to be a pair of beach cruisers, not really my thing so I move on but imagine this scenario...

Toby and Lisa were part of the great California exodus of the 80s and 90s, they had lived near Venice  and rode beach cruisers all the time in the Southern California sun.   When they settled in West Seattle they thought they would continue to ride along alki beach.  They go once, its hilly here and you have to climb a big hill to get back home from the beach, and its cold! only 50 degrees out in May and it rains on them, the bikes go into the garage and stay there, only coming out  for garage sale day.

As I am going home I again see bikes and circle back to check them out, upon closer inspection a mountain bike and fairly modern road bike, nothing of interest but as the friendly homeowner asks me how I'm doing, I spot a solo rear wheel and ask if he knows if its a free-wheel or cassette? he picks it up and reads the rim label "622 something" and hands me the wheel.  I convert that ISO # to 700c, bike nerd style, and count the chain rings, 8, so likely a cassette, 8 speed FW's are out there but they are rare.  I see its a Campy hub and out of curiosity ask him how much?  He says a friend left it behind in the garage and he's not sure what to ask, clearly wanting me to make an offer.  My brain does some quick calculations, I could throw out 20 bucks, he could say yes, maybe I clean it up and sell it for $40....but I don't know much about campy beyond the basics, I have no sense of the market and I am trying to get rid of clutter not add to it, so I hand him back the wheel and wish him good day.

I arrive back home with an empty bike rack, maybe next year.  As always Ride.Smile.Repeat.

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