Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The awkward moment when you wanna purchase 2nd hand stuff

As mentioned on a previous blog, purchasing 2nd hand items can be a penny saver.  This, however, does not come without its own awkward moments.

I have met different stereotypes of Second Hand Sellers. I will attempt to draw a clear picture for you lot of a few of them.

The Grandmother
Walking into her house, you will notice that her grandchild must be at least 6 years old by now. The tell-tale signs? House is in order and full of china knick-knacks and statuettes covering any given surface - such as coffee tables and other places where you wouldn't normally dream of placing similar items when younger children are involved.

Once she shows you into the room where the Stuff To Be Sold is being held, you already know that most of it won't be to your liking.  It will be pretty old, and possibly smelling of mothballs after being kept in storage for a long time.  And then it happens.

"See how cute this onesie is?" Grandma asks you sweetly. "How about this top? Oh look at these cute shoes! We bought everything brand new! We even got these from England!"

With every second that goes by, you feel yourself slowly taking steps away from her, desperately trying to come up with an escape plan that won't make you seem rude.  "Err, yes. That is very pretty. I'm afraid it isn't the right season/size/gender for my child though. Yes, yes I do like that. Hmmm yes, it is a real shame, you;'re right!"

Somehow you finally manage to escape, but not without having purchased a few things that you know you will never ever force upon your child.  You just felt you needed to buy something off her just so that you don't break her heart.

The Bossy Mum
This is the one mum that you know doesn't take any funny business.  And forces her partner to actually contribute to night-time feedings... or else!  You can tell by the way her children, who obviously must be in the same room as the two of you for her to supervise, barely utter a sound, unless she speaks to them first.  She is the Second Hand Seller equivalent of those kind of salesgirls who follow you around and give you their opinion in a very judgemental, yet matter-of-fact kind of way. 

You will need to be extremely assertive and not allow her to patronise you, lest you end up buying her trunkful of pink, frilly, baby girl items - in spite of you having a boy.  She will convince you that it is healthy for a boy to wear the pink frilly stuff. "He will need to get in touch with him feminine side.  The boyish boy stereotype is sooo overrated.  And if he turns out gay? All the better! Who wouldn't want a gay son?"

Try not to piss your pants as you make your way out of her domain with your tail between your legs.  She can smell your fear, and will take advantage of that by making sure you continue buying Second Hand Stuff off her for the rest of your life.

The Chic Mum
She's the one to overprice everything, and try to justify it by telling you exactly which country the item was purchased from, what brand name it is, which outlet it was, what its value was around the time of purchase, and to top it all off, she will assure you that your child will be unique by wearing said item.  Surely, no one else on this tiny, overpopulated island can have her stylish tastes!

If your budget allows it, get one or two things off her and keep her number.  You might need her for a special occasion outfit in the future.

The Moving Mum
"Mummy leaving island/moving house. Must sell within a week. Everything must go!!"


Time your visit well.  You could contact her earlier in the week to check what items are available.  Don't go there immediately though, or you will seem desperate.  Well, unless you really are desperate!  By contacting her, you will ensure you have wedged your foot in the doorway.  By actually going over later on in the week means that the Desperation Levels have shifted, and Moving Mum is now the desperate one,  so much so, that she might knock off an extra few Euros from the original asking price, or throw in some freebies - just to make sure you don't bail out on her and actually purchase the Stuff.

Careful she doesn't throw in this kind of freebie!

My lingering question though remains this - If the Second Hand Sellers don't reply to your text message/e-mail/call immediately, what is the etiquette for a 2nd attempt? Or a 3rd attempt even?  How does one deal with the necessary pestering without making the Seller hate you without them ever even having met/spoken to you before?  Should you leave 10 minutes in between one call and the next? 15 minutes? An hour? What is too little, and what is too long? 

I personally end up envisioning what might be the reason for the Seller's delay in answering - feeding kidlet? That may take an hour. Changing a nappy? That can take anywhere between a few minutes up to half an hour or so, depending on how messy it turned out to be.  Putting kidlet to sleep? Can range between 10 minutes up to several hours.  Or perhaps, they're doing a non-parent activity and simply aren't in a position to respond. Or they didn't notice your message/call.  If anyone could shed some light on what is the messaging/phone call etiquette I would be pretty grateful as this seems to be one topic Google knows nothing about.


  1. I'm not sure if you have nearly new sales in Malta but they are a godsend as you can get everything you need under one roof for bargain prices although if you get there at the start it's like a kill frenzy!

  2. Teeheeheee I love 2nd hand stuff but I've never found any real good outlets in Malta dammit :/