Bargainin’ Kate

From Joanie:

My sister Kate has a unique and wonderful talent. She can bargain.

I don’t mean she goes to flea markets and talks people down from their “set” price to what they actually hope to sell something for. I mean she goes to department stores and won’t leave until they’ve discounted the item she wanted, whether it was on sale or not. And if it was on sale, she talks it down further.

I have no idea how she does this. I don’t think it’s a learned skill, but is rather one of those inherent gifts like people who are able to easily solve Rubik’s cubes without peeling the stickers off like some people I know. Namely, me.

A few times, I’ve tried Kate’s techniques, which she assures me are simple to acquire. On one such occasion, at a market in Italy, I suggested a reasonably lower price to a man selling dresses by the sea. Not even the kind of low-ball cut rate prices that Kate manages. The man laughed in my face. I walked away, which Kate said was what you do next–they should follow and offer a better price. It didn’t happen for me.

Had Kate been there, I’m sure she would have gotten two dresses for the asking price of one. I guess part of it is that Kate has an unwavering confidence when it comes to shopping. She knows what she wants, and what she is willing to pay for it to be hers. Meanwhile, I’m waffling over which brand of mustard is cheaper by the ounce, and whether the extra 6 cents it costs for the name brand mustard is worth the 2 grams less sugar.

Kate is not a worrier. She is fearless, and followed her love of making things– cool things, beautiful things, and theatrical things– to a job at a theatre and eventually to graduate school for props design.

“Bargainin’ Kate” sounds to me like an old west heroine, whose spurs clink as she strides into town to find the bargains she needs to make great art. She probably made those spurs out of foil and duct tape, or she bought them at an auction for a fraction of the retail price.

Happy birthday, Bargainin’ Kate, here’s to many more years of haggling, and a lot of years of creating!


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