‘You back ‘ere again? …Yoo’s trade encha?’
This is the customary greeting which I receive from ‘toothy Charlie’ at our local council refuse tip.
I went through a phase last year when I had to dispose of a lot of unwanted books. Most books which I acquire, I happily sell online, but there are some which turn out to have very little value when I go to list them.
Nevertheless, I am obliged to take them from my source, in order to maintain the status quo of our relationship.
I might also want to dispose of books because they prove too bulky to post to customers, with any potential earnings being eaten up by the high cost of postage. Sometimes the books are just too tatty for me to keep; perhaps even written in.
And it’s not just books which I have to dispose of in the course of buying and selling online: old unwanted VHS videos can now also be difficult to shift, as many charity shops refuse to take them.
I got to know toothy Charlie one sunny Saturday, when I heaved a heavy box of books over the top of one of those very large metal refuse containers at the local tip – the sort with stairs up the side to reach the top. On this day, the container was almost empty, but unbeknown to me, Charlie was stamping about in the bottom, busy flattening cardboard boxes.
The air became blue with obscenities as my books rained down on Charlie, and thereafter I was a marked man.
‘…No Charlie, I’m not “trade.” I’m just clearing some stuff from my dad’s estate.’ This was a little white lie, as my dad is alive and well, although, in truth I was clearing out some of his stuff as well as my own.
‘What’s your Dad’s name then… Jesus?’ asked Charlie.
‘Why do you say that?’
‘’Cos, yoo’s bin usin’ that line for the last free years, so I reckon ‘e keeps coming back to life again!’
I wanted to avoid being labelled as ‘trade’ at all costs; otherwise I would be banned from using the tip for certain.
…Surely there had to be another way to ethically dispose of unwanted stock?
I’m pleased to say that I have unearthed two very good places for my unwanted items, which have at the same time turned into good buying-venues for new stock…
Most high streets come equipped with an Oxfam charity shop these days, and you could be forgiven for thinking that it is an obvious destination for unwanted items, especially books.
Oxfam are a cut above other charity shops when it comes to selling books; in fact they have almost become book-specialists, and in some shops they have recruited staff to sell selected stock on Amazon & eBay… In a way, they are my online competitors.
Their high standards were the very reason why I have avoided donating my (apparently) unsaleable books to their cause. But one day, after an ear-bashing from Charlie, and in desperation, I turned up at their doorstep with my tatty books. I slunk away, somewhat embarrassed, but was surprised when some months later I received the following letter from Oxfam.
So nowadays, I happily turn up at Oxfam’s back door to deliver my unwanted books without a shred of guilt. Their organisation is so large it would appear that they can find a buyer for anything I can throw at them.
I then go through to the front of the shop to check their shelves for books I would like to buy.
Over the years I have learned that ‘time is money’ when it comes to sourcing good value books. Buying from Oxfam makes sense to me, because their knowledgeable staff literally screen hundreds of books on my behalf, only offering for sale the very best of them.
Ultimately their prices may be higher than other charity shops, but their quality is far better and I have found some real gems from this source as a result (more on this topic to come).
Books for Free – www.healthyplanet.org
Books for Free rescues unwanted books otherwise destined for landfill or pulping. Healthy Planet redistributes these books – for free – throughout communities via 36 volunteer-run Books for Free centres on high streets nationwide.
I am lucky that I have a Books for Free outlet in my nearest town, so anything I don’t take to Oxfam I take here.
Saving books from being pulped is a noble cause; one which Books for Free has embraced on national scale. These shops are always popular, as they allow you to take away up to three books ‘for free’ on every visit. I have found that they also accept maps and VHS videos, therefore these are given away in the same manner.
It’s certainly worthwhile checking their website to see if they have a store open near you.
Until next week, good hunting… and watch out for toothy Charlie if you are heading for the tip this weekend!