Monday, 16 July 2012

Being a Cheapskate

I think that sometimes I am perceived as a bit of a cheapskate.  I rather prefer to think I like to get value for money, better still, something for nothing !.  

For instance take parking fees.  I avoid them whenever I can.  I reckon that by judicial parking throughout the year i can save about £300 easily.  By parking my car on the edge of a town and walking that extra 500 metres it is easy to save £2-3 per visit, particularly when you live in Cornwall where the charges are frequently extortionate.  But I extend this principle to buying things as well.  Now I have mentioned previously that I enjoy auctions and car boot sales and the bargains that can be had.  Well I will not stop there at looking for discounted goods.  

If I believe that the price of an item is excessive with built in high profit margin I will always ask for discount.  Now there are some places you just can't do this such as the high street multiples but there are many you can.  Furniture shops, bed salerooms, some electrical retailers, tyre, battery and exhaust centres for example. If in doubt you can give it a go. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. 

Now recently one of the "bargains" I purchased at a boot sale were several items of Piquot Ware.  The upside is that they were very cheap and the downside was they had seen a lot of use, probably in a cafe somewhere.  For those of you who don't know, Piquot Ware was a range of cast and polished aluminium/magnesium alloy tea and coffee pots, milk jugs and sugar bowls that were very popular in the 60's and 70's.  They are now seeing a resurgence in popularity with their "retro" design helped by the fact that the manufacturers still make them albeit they are extremely expensive.  A tea pot for instance is around £150 !.  I have three coffee pots of two different designs, a sugar bowl and a milk jug, all obtained for just £20.  However I do not think I will realise much of a profit it their present state as they need a couple of decades of scratches and tarnish polished out.  And so to my current project and my renovation plan !.

I realised from the outset that hand polishing would not suffice. When I looked at bench polishers it seemed even the lowest cost was in excess of £40 and that was before buying the necessary polishing wheels, etc.  Then I remembered my 35 year old Black and Decker two speed drill was made to go with various attachments and I was sure one was a horizontal drill stand.  A quick look on ebay revealed a couple had sold in recent months but they were rare as "rocking horse s**t". 

After a couple of weeks of searching I was beginning to believe my only option was to buy a bench grinder when lo and behold I saw just the item I required at.............wait for it...........a boot sale!.  Only the item wasn't just the stand. Black and Decker had made it so it could form part of a wood turning lathe and the seller, a trader, had the whole thing for sale for £15.  Now you might think this would be a bargain but remember, i'm a cheapskate.  I offered him £5 and he said he wouldn't go lower than £10.  Not to be outdone I waited until I had been around the whole sale a couple of times then returned to his pitch and offered him £8 saying it was all I had (I had £50 float in my wallet).  He scratched his head and pondered. The whole thing was about a metre long, covered in grease and grime and still had a filthy greasy drill attached.  I said how many offers did he think he would get for such a heavy greasy item.  I asked him if the drill worked and he said he didn't know. I went for the kill............  I emptied my trouser pockets out and I had exactly £7.80 in loose change.  I said this was his last chance as I was about to leave; it was £7.80 or nothing. He capitulated !.  

I wrapped a paper hankies around the bits I held and struggled back to my car.  On my return home and following cleaning, further investigation revealed that not only did the drill work fine but it was two speed and a switchable hammer drill to boot.  And the one tool I didn't have at home was can guess..........yes a hammer drill !.

Since then i've purchased an aluminium polishing kit on ebay and have polished my first coffee pot. What a difference. They should look like new when i've finished.  So that's my current home project.  And in the garage i've a very nice lathe for when I decide to take up woodturning as new hobby !. As I said, nothing ventured, nothing gained.