By Mike O’Brien
I am not much of a shopper. I try to spend no more than five minutes picking out, trying on and purchasing clothes. I actually enjoy shopping but am a bit impatient with it. Like most consumers, I have my quirks about what constitutes treasure, and how big a discount translates into a true bargain. My brother has a penchant for garage sales. He often rises early on Saturday mornings to peruse all sorts of stuff laid out on driveways. Although he rarely buys much, it is a vital part of a well-spent weekend for him, especially if he finds some trivet and negotiates the price down to a couple of bucks. One of my wife’s favorite shopping prey: purses-several cram her closet. Unlike me, though, her concern is not about a low price. As for me, I like discounted holiday decorations. Strings of lights, yard Santas, moving reindeer, candles-I keep my eye out for the half-off (or more) price-cutting that happens to these goods after Christmas each year.
While at a friend’s home for a holiday dinner party last year, I spotted one of those silly musical Santas. I pushed a button, and the 15-inch-tall Santa, sporting a saxophone and cool sunglasses, emitted a jazzy saxophone rendition of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” It was not just that I liked it, but the thought of buying one for half off made it even more desirable.
So the week after Christmas, I scoured a few drugstores and found only one Saxophone Santa. But when I got it home and opened it, I discovered it was broken. The 75-percent-off price tag ($2.50!) eased the pain, but only a little.
I still wanted my own fully functioning, heavily discounted, tacky Santa with a horn.
When I told of my travails to my son, he said, “Dad, I have one word for you: Ebay.” And so my quest led me into an entirely new world. Although commonplace for many, Ebay was totally foreign to me. That evening, I did a search for “Saxophone Santa” on the Ebay site and lo! Tiny photos of dozens of different musical Santas quickly appeared on my computer screen. Tenth down the list was exactly the St. Nick I was seeking. (The item just below it was a suspendered Santa praising baby Jesus that I could bid on for a mere $39.95. I decided to pass . . .)
I clicked on a few icons, filled in a few lines of information, worked through the bidding instructions, and voila! I had submitted the top bid with only 30 hours left until the auction ended ($10.50 plus shipping). I checked on my item frequently during the next day and, at auction’s end, I celebrated that this nearly stolen treasure I had “won” would soon be en route from Kansas City, Mo. to Sacramento, and be mine. All mine.
“As soon as it arrives, you’re putting it up in the garage with all that other stuff,” my wife said. Maybe I can keep it with her purses, or it’ll end up at our next garage sale and my brother will make an offer. But what a great buy!
NOTE: Joe Chiodo recently was promoted to co-publisher of Sacramento Magazines Corporation. For many years, Joe has been associate publisher. Vice President Jennifer O’Brien and I made the promotion in recognition of Joe’s extraordinary work. Likewise, my title also changes to co-publisher, to better reflect our team leadership. From now on, please direct any and all complaints to Joe; I will be happy to accept any complimentary calls.