Yes, men teach your wives arithmetic before they become your widows.
A phone call from a widow explained why I hadn’t seen the husband/customer for a while. He was deceased. Would I be interested in buying his books? Yes.
It was a very large ranch-style house with a full-size basement stretching the length of the house. Racks of bookcases filled the room, library style, with only enough room for a person to slide sideways between the stacks. He collected the sciences and medical books. Although not spectacular, I wanted them all, well, not all –- there were “popular” books in the mix.
I knew I didn’t have storage space for the huge quantity I was planing to buy. I pulled out a grouping of books. I said: “I will come regularly and buy a large group of books. Now, I will give you $100 each for the books in this stack and $50 each for this stack.” She said, “Oh no, I know he paid twice that for some of them.” Did I want to explain why a dealer does not pay retail? She said, “I have another name to call.” I asked her to call me and let me know how it went and I would be happy to come back.
She phoned me, triumphant, a few days later. “I got $ 7,000. He bought 1,000 books. He went right out and came back with a truck!!!!” I was stunned. I said, “You sold your books for $ 7.00 each.” “No,” she said shrilly, “$7,000.”
Slowly, I said,” If one book is $7 then 10 books are $70, 100 books $700, 1,000 books $7,000.” Long pause. I waited. “Well,” she said, “I got $ 7,000.” I said, pleasantly, “OK. You’ve established the price at $7.00 each. Do you have any books left? I can come back and buy the left-overs for $7 each.” She said that would be all right. I asked who bought her books. I did not know the man, but I called him immediately.
I told him I had seen the books and it was a heck of a deal for 1,000 books. He chortled, "1,000 books? I got much more than 1,000 books. She liked that number. I just kept loading the truck.” I told him there were several medical books I wanted to buy from him and I could wait until he unloaded the truck. He told me that they were all gone. He said he stopped at every dealer on his way back to Michigan, and unloaded the entire truck. He said, “There was no dickering. I couldn’t lose.” I don’t remember him. I didn’t want to remember him.
(I did learn something important from him though which fits into the lesson: Men teach your wives arithmetic. If you tell the seller, “I will give you $10 each for these books” it sound cheap. If you say, "I will give you $100” for the same group, it sound like real money.)
Back at the widow’s house, I searched through the remaining books. He knew what he was doing. Left were the commonplace books and lots of scholarly paper pamphlets. I took the pamphlets, many of which are still on my shelves and reduced down to $7.00.