Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Bad Economy

My crazy Uncle gave me my Great Grandmother's dining table earlier this year. He doesn't give things unless there are many conditions. The major condition associated with taking this table was that I would NEVER sell it. He wants it to remain in the family forever. Don't tell me what I can and cannot do, you damn pirate. Of course I told him I would keep it forever. I have no qualms about selling this if I need the money. It isn't something I would sell if I want to go on a vacation, but if it would allow me to keep my condo (assuming I had one and needed more cash to keep it), or allow my dad to have another month of chemo I would sell it in a minute.

This table isn't really my style. I am much more of a modern design guy. This table is a solid oak table (blonde wood) with thick solid legs (like Tipper Gore). Without the leaves it is nearly a perfect square (maybe 36" x 36"). My family has never been "rich" (what does rich mean, I don't know). When my great grandmother died, she didn't have much to give to her many children, so she gave what she could. One child got the dining table, another got the chairs, another got the hutch. Unfortunately the chairs are missing in action. My uncle decided the best place to keep the leaves for the dining table was outside in the barn. Usually a pretty safe bet -- solid oak, outside in rainy and damp Oregon -- definitely a wise choice.

In July I had a carpenter come over and look at a few pieces of furniture, including this table. He provided a quote to build two leaves (solid oak, with aprons, not just a flat piece of wood to slide in), replane the top of the table, refinish the whole thing including the large ornate legs. Remember, this table, once completed, will have to be shipped 2200 miles from Oregon to Illinois. Not only does it have to be transported, but I also have to buy 8 chairs too. The rate I was quoted was about twice what I was expecting. Basically, I decided this was crazy and I'd just buy a new dining set and call it good.

I did feel a bit odd -- I wanted to keep this family antique in the family, especially since my family doesn't have much that we pass down from generation to generation. So today I decided to email the cabinet guy and ask if he'd cut his price dramatically. I figured the worst thing he could say was "hell no". I had no idea if he'd take it or not. He did. He bit immediately. I probably could have gotten a better deal, but I'm happy. He will pick up the table on Friday and return it in 9 days (7 business days). We'll have it back by Thanksgiving.

I do feel a bit bad about this too. I don't know how much money a cabinet maker in Newberg can make, but I figured with the economy as it is, he is probably hurting for cash. Christmas is just around the corner -- maybe he needs money for the kids, or maybe he needs money to keep his house. I don't feel guilty about getting a deal -- I just wonder if the guy was trying to screw me with his initial number ("some guy from Chicago coming in to get family furniture refinished -- man oh man, I can make a ton of coin off him"). Or maybe he is doing this at a near loss just so he'll have the income (loss on labor, not expenses).

I won't lose any sleep over this really, I just wonder how bad this economy will get -- how many people will provide their master craftsmanship for a deep discount just to keep their family fed. How many people out there are in such bad positions they cannot survive? -- Fuck, as far as I know he's using the money I give him for this project to get a prostitute or a shit load of meth...

1 comment:

David said...

How strong a possibility is the prostitute... Give that table a good lemon pledging before thanksgiving dinner.