I admit it. I am susceptible to wheelbarrows at yard sales, especially since we needed one. Needed may be slightly overstated since we already had two wheelbarrows ever since I got a second one years ago at a yard sale. But there are times when a third would have come in handy.
This one was sitting near the curb, prominently, like a neon sign flashing “The grocery store can wait, Steve!”
I asked the seller what he wanted for it and was encouraged when he first disclosed its critical defect. One of the wheel bearings was missing. Not loose. Just gone. I wondered where it went. The wheel was useless without the bearing. In other words it was perfect.
Defect is in the eye of the beholder. In this disposable day and age, the thought fixing something is about as common as not buying something in the first place. To me, a card-carrying not-common fixer guy, broken is of far greater value than fully functional because broken pushes the item into the buyer’s market.
He asked $35.
“Naw,” I replied. “Can’t do 35 for a broken wheelbarrow.”
He came down to $25.
“I can do $20.”
There was a moment’s pause. Then he agreed.
Brother Matt was with me. He later pointed out that I had used a classic negotiating technique to close the deal. Because I am oblivious to such things, I had no idea what that might have been.
“You made your offer, then you shut up,” he said, explaining that people don’t like the ensuing silence. To make it go away, they are more apt to accept the proposal.
I confessed that I played it that way because I didn’t have anything else to say. He laughed.
When we finally got to the grocery store I realized that I was wearing one of my once-white dirt-stained farming t-shirts. In other words, silence may not have clinched the bargain after all. I think it just as likely that he noticed my shirt and my dented up farm truck full of well-used 5-gallon pails and decided he was lucky if I even had 20 bucks.
I had never attempted this particular repair, but I figured I could manage it. It took a bit more work than I expected because the axle was an odd size, just a little bigger than the only replacement bearing (⅝ inch) I could find locally. I saw a not-so-cheap standard-size axle on line, but I decided it would be worth it--less wasteful--to try to make the existing axle conform to the new bearing, which cost only a few bucks. I used my angle grinder to reduce the size of the axle until the bearing would slide on. It was not an elegant fix, but that's OK, because I am not elegant. We are not likely to run into a shortage of wheelbarrows any time soon, and if we do, I know just how to negotiate on the purchase of a new one.