I had a friend that had a whole barrel of the most beautiful apples you could imagine–and–he was a heck of a salesman. When he first started selling apples he pretty much sold them at the same price as everyone else. At some point he started raising the prices of his apples. It seemed like the more he raised his prices, the more “valuable” people seemed to think his apples were–even though they were the same old apples. Or perhaps it was only because all the other apple sellers raised their prices too, or the fact that he polished them really nicely. In spite of the price, he was selling apples like crazy–as fast as he could pull them out of the barrel. There was no end in sight as to what he was going to be able to charge for those apples.
It didn’t seem to matter whether they were Fuji’s or Granny Smith’s–people just had to have them.
Pretty soon people didn’t have quite enough money to pay for the apples so he would tell them–don’t worry about it–pay me tomorrow.
One day he went out to the barrel and found an apple with a “bad spot” on it–that didn’t matter, he soon discovered that he could put an “organic” sticker or a “grown in New Zealand” sticker over the blemish and still get just as much for it–in some cases even more–and away went another rosy-cheeked apple eater.
This went on for quite some time until he went out to the barrel one day and discovered that some of the apples were actually rotten and were affecting some of the other apples in the barrel.
Finally people stopped buying his apples.
Every day my friend still goes out to the barrel and sifts through the rotten apples hoping to find a few more good ones. Some of the apples have some good areas in them–the bad spots can be cut away.
He still insists the apples are worth as much as they were before–refusing to lower his prices.
He also had to hire someone to go collect the money from the people he said could pay him later.
Occasionally people show up on his doorstep and try to return the apples to him. He rarely returns anyone’s money though–he tells me that eventually someone will buy the returned apples–because everybody has to have apples.
While it is true that there is a sucker born every day–
–they just don’t have any money today.
Then again, perhaps suckers are just smarter than they used to be.
I suspect that if he started selling the apples for a price that people can afford, closer to what the apples are worth, he would start to sell more apples again.
Then again, my friend can be REALLY stubborn.
Perhaps he needs to start making cider–hard cider.
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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