Sidewalk Sale – How We Sold the Couch We Couldn’t Give Away
In the late 1980’s, the Rainbow Movers offices and warehouse were in Tribeca. At that time Tribeca was not yet the posh downtown neighborhood we know today, but change was in the air. Though boutiques were few, cafes with higher priced coffees and burgers began to appear. The newer residents who began the conversion of Tribeca’s lofts and warehouses into luxury housing that defines it today, became our patrons.
One of the treats we provided our changing neighborhood was an occasional sidewalk sale of items our movers had rescued on jobs, things that were being left behind by our customers. Though the movers often thought they’d have a good use for these things, almost as often they would have a change of heart once it all got back to our warehouse. As a result, we would accumulate multiple tables, chairs, dressers, TVs, computers, couches, coffee makers, air conditioners, mirrors, lamps, rugs, books, tapes and records (remember tapes and records?), VCRs (remember VCRs?) radios, desks, file cabinets, and on and on…
Our sidewalk sales began as an effort to clear out our space. The prices were so low we would rarely have anything left to bring in at the end of the day. But there was one memorable exception: a Chesterfield sofa. Or, more accurately, what remained of a Chesterfield after a life as a plaything for our customer’s cats. We put it out on the sidewalk with a sign saying “Chesterfield Couch = FREE!!” For the cost of new upholstery, it would have been the bargain of the decade. But there were no takers. And so it went, out and back in, out and back in, for many days.
Finally we put it out with a new sign that read, “Chesterfield Couch = $5.” Within minutes, a man walked up and and said, “I’ll give you $3 for it.”
He took the Chesterfield couch, and we all went out for coffee (remember $0.35 coffee?).