You can’t put a price on memories

Some people would rather buy something than sell something. Some people are just not very good at selling stuff. Like, at all.

I’m one of those people.

I already knew of this character flaw before the prolific pandemic purge, but now I’m fully reminded of my mercenary misgivings, in spades.

Like many during this COVID cleanup, I’ve been diligently downsizing, which means a lot of trips to donation depots and engaging in a whole mess of online offerings.

These diffident days have seen an unprecedented presence on selling sites such as Kijiji, where people like me are flocking like seagulls at a Sylvan Lake beach picnic.

Folks are selling everything from the kitchen sink (quite literally) to precious puppies online. All you have to do is start keyboard clicking, and within minutes, you are up to your eyeballs in creative commerce.

You have a couple of kitchen chairs that have been knocking around down in the basement for years. You snap a couple of phone photos, think up a mostly true description, and you’re ready to post an ad.

But wait, now comes the most important part: the price. What the heck are two old wobbly chairs worth?

This is where I always snare a snag. Oh, I do my due diligence by checking new and used items on the interweb (is that old High 8 video camera that I paid $800 for 10 years ago really only worth 15 bucks?).

But what value do you put on something seriously sentimental that you, after much agonizing angst, have finally decided to part with?

This was my devastating dilemma recently. It was time to say goodbye to my 20-inch Zildjian ride cymbal.

Now, it may seem a bit of a stretch to get all emotional over a large bit of brass that I bash on as part of my drumset, but let me just say that piece of percussion was purchased by my loving parents for a puny punk elementary school drummer wannabe, and it really isn’t just a bit of brass.

Zildjian cymbals are famous in the drummer world, hand-made in Turkey and they are the Rolls Royce of things you hit with a stick.

Over 50 years ago, Mom and Dad paid more for that separate cymbal than my entire second-hand Stewart drum kit, and it’s been with me ever since.

And now I was going to sell it.

I just didn’t need it anymore. I have a stack of cymbals, and frankly, I haven’t been keen on the sound of the 20-inch for a while now.

So with a heavy heart, I do my research and I close my eyes and throw a dart at a dartboard and come up with a price and proceed to post.

It sold in two hours. A dude from Drumheller drove all the way to my house to pick it up in Red Deer. There are three reasons why something unusual sells so fast:

1. You’ve found exactly the right buyer, who doesn’t care about the cost.

2. You’ve found the sweet spot – a fair price for both parties.

3. You find you’ve seriously underestimated the value of your item.

For me, it’s almost always door Number 3.

So suspiciously, after it sold, I took a deeper dive on a different digital domain and found that some vintage Zildjians are going for upwards of $4,000 per cymbal.

And I let this one go for less than three figures. It figures, I thought to myself, but I was OK with it. Because as I watched the dude walk to his car with a million of my memories under his arm, I knew that sometimes, the price is never right.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker.

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