My dad was well known for liking a good joke. One of those was a little figurine of a toilet. It had a lift up lid; on the underside was printed Goodbye Cruel World. In the bowl was a little man in the process of being flushed down the toilet. As is often the case in something humorous, there is often a grain of truth or a touch of irony.
Lately, I have been contemplating what the future will hold based upon the recent past. I am not optimistic. While it gives me a touch of pride when somebody comments about what I have done here, the underlying sentiment is that places like the chrome n rust world headquarters are becoming a thing of the past.
Sure, we live in an age where a wealth of information is at everybody’s fingertips, it is also true that it is harder for a business to be found on various search engines. It used to be enough to have your business name and phone number in the yellow pages- perhaps to go with a small advertisement. Your business listing would last the duration of the phone book. Today, while it is possible to get a free listing on google, this does not ensure that your listing will show up on any internet search engines. Some will sell you a package of ‘search engine optimization’ which usually turns out to be some B.S. deal that goes sideways as soon as they have your money.
After years of listing parts, cars, and services on kijiji, the corporate parent (ebay) now wants to collect cash for ads that will be buried pages deep in a matter of hours or days at the outside- all while slowing down browsing because of pop-up ads and tracking cookies.
I have tried various buy and sell pages on Facebook with little return for even the time spent placing ads. Maybe it is due to the fact that I place ads with my PC instead of using an I-phone. The fact is, I can’t spend my time dinking around on a phone at the expense of doing actual work that might generate income. The most efficient way to do business is still to have a conversation with the customer.
On a personal note: I have to wonder why some of my ‘friends’ don’t put in a plug for my business when there are postings by people looking for parts. Have I over- charged on a part that might have hurt some feelings? When I throw out a good-guy price on a part for a friend or repeat customer, I usually put it in the form of a question so that you have the chance to tell me if it is a fair price or you can make a counter-offer. I know that my friends have the good sense not to throw a low-ball offer at me.
Is it the fact that I do this as a business instead of taking a few bucks for a part off a heap that I want out of my yard? On a particular truck website, I don’t bother replying to ads looking for parts because there is always somebody who will pretty much give you whatever you are looking for. If I was a guy just looking to fix up my truck, I would likely go that route myself- so no hard feelings.
My ‘business’ is a niche operation. I provide a source of parts for old cars and trucks that auto recyclers no longer carry. You can occasionally find an antique vehicle in a pick and pull at pick and pull prices. I cannot operate that way. Due to the laws of supply and demand, and the shrinking supply of potential inventory, I have to ask a price that reflects a scarce item in an open market.
While I consider myself fortunate to make a living at my hobby like a few of my friends doing restoration work and building hot rods, you must know that most of us don’t take home a paycheque or enjoy a benefits package. The fact that I haven’t seen a paycheque since July 2000 has meant that a bank won’t touch me with a ten foot pole- which makes my life a lot more difficult and expensive.
In this age where people are supposed to be alright with sharing their mental health problems, why does it sound like I’m being a bitch if I tell you that I’m thinking of pulling the plug on this? For all I know, maybe you are in a similar boat and don’t have money for a project or even to buy parts to keep your heap on the road. Too much uncertainty out there.
Don’t put too much into the lead photo here. Call it gallows humour. I’m waiting for the price of scrap to recover- then, watch out.