Tom Stangl

We are in the midst of open season for sidewalk entrepreneurship. Garage sales are being held and lemonade and Kool-Aid stands are appearing on the corner. These small start-up ventures are excellent learning experiences for all involved.

I’ve never been a fan of the garage sale. It looks like a lot of work and aggravation to me. Taking the time to clean up old clothing and knick-knacks, price them at below fire sale prices and then be ready to haggle with customers over a dime.

The haggling gene didn’t stick with me, or else it must skip a generation because my late father, the Chief, was a master haggler. There are many tales of his perceived bargaining prowess in the lore and legend of the Stangl family.

Here’s one:

One of my older sisters was preparing to go off to college and had detasseled corn to earn some extra money. She had shopped for a small black and white television and had selected one from the local TV repairman. The Chief thought that he could get a better price and didn’t want anyone taking advantage of his daughter, so he paid a call on the proprietor.

I believe the cost of the set was just over $100, a king’s ransom at that time. The Chief told the owner that he was going to make a check out for $100 even and that was the most that “he” was going to pay. “You figure out the price so the total with tax is $100,” the Chief said in his best “no-nonsense” voice. “I won’t pay a penny more.”

It worked, which, to the Chief, was the equivalent of what we call winning the lottery today. The story was re-told to anyone and everyone and life was good.

I met my wife when I learned that she was selling her 1969 Camaro. The car had the less-than-reliable 307 Chevy V-8 and the vaunted “three in the tree” manual transmission, but it was a ‘69 Camaro. I had agreed to her asking price of $500, and the Chief had given the car the “once over” in the shop and deemed it mechanically sound.

When I went to take possession of the car and give the future mother of my children her check for $500, the Chief tagged along. After introductions were made, the Chief, in his “no-nonsense” voice that had worked so well, piped up: “you’re sure you wouldn’t take $300?”

I paid $500 for the car and marked my 41st wedding anniversary in June. Yes, she married me anyway. Alas, the car was sold a couple of years later. It was a Camaro with the Chevy 307, and you know how those engines liked oil....

My late mother truly enjoyed her Maytag wringer washer. Don’t ask me why, but even after she retired and the Maytag died, she wanted another one.

They found one at an antique dealer, and before the Chief could ask the going price so he could haggle, my mother had asked and already written the check, a small victory for my mother that was repeated in family lore almost as many times as the black and white TV story.

If you are buying or selling this summer, the best of luck to you. Try the Chief’s “no nonsense” voice. He’d be proud if it worked.

As always, I welcome your input. Please feel free to call me at 715-268-8101, write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001 or email me at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com.

Thanks for reading. I’ll keep in touch; feel free to do the same.

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