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Pioneer Park Aviary Peacock Flies the Coop and Lands on eBay
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On Mother's Day, 2012, my wife and I attended a large yard sale on the grounds of Pioneer Park in Walla Walla, Washington. The proceeds of this sale would directly go to support the iconic and very popular Pioneer Park Aviary.
One of the more noticeable birds at the aviary, both in terms of aesthetic plumage and audible trumpeting, is the peacock. It's no wonder, then, that this beautiful creature left an indelible mark in the creative mind and soul of artist Marilee Schiff.
A local resident of Walla Walla, Ms. Schiff has had a few of her delightful art creations--including the original watercolor of the above print--featured on the online entrepreneurial site, Etsy.
Her affinity for the local people and regional ambience as well as her love for and appreciation of the Pioneer Park Aviary and its inhabitants moved her to donate five framed photo prints of her gorgeous peacock watercolor painting to the yard sale.
After speaking with one of the aviary supporters at the yard sale, I decided to purchase the above print and, in the process, carry out my civic duty in supporting the historical bird sanctuary.
As an eBay seller, I try to envision my online point of sale while deliberating over any yard/garage/estate sale or thrift store acquisition. The seller's profit, I've learned, is established at the moment of buying an item, not later.
The price listed for the 9-1/2" by 7-5/8" print in the 11-1/8" x 9-3/16" frame was $4. I picked up the framed print, studied both the front and reverse sides carefully, and placed it back on the table. I looked around at the other items on adjacent tables and then returned to the general vicinity of the artwork table.
One of the sale organizers, a personable middle-aged woman, must've picked up on my interest in the piece and came over to help me. This provided me with a great opportunity to ask a few key questions about the piece as well as its creator. It's amazing how a little schmoozing with the yardsellers can contribute to bonus dividends, such as a discounted asking price.
"Tell you what," she said. "I'll sell you that picture for $2."
Without batting an eye, but pausing an extra heartbeat or two for dramatic effect, I responded, "I'll take it. Thank you very much!"
Later that evening, I conducted further research with the wonderful assistance of my brilliant friend, GS , better known as Google search. I learned an interesting thing or two about the artist, Marilee Schiff.
Apparently, a little over eleven years ago, Marilee had witnessed the terror and devastation of the 9/11 tragedy. Deeply moved by the experience as well as the media coverage after the fact that focused on the victims and their surviving family members, she pondered the unrealized dreams of those who had died. In a moment of intense epiphany, Ms. Schiff challenged herself to truly explore and bring into fruition her own dreams before it was too late.
One of her life wishes was to learn how to paint. She set about to do just that, and the rest--as they say--is history.
I don't know about you, but I am truly blessed to have such creative individuals in my community. Like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, inspirational and humanitarian genius transcend the ground zero of destruction.
The information I'd gleaned gave me further impetus to prepare a good listing for the item on eBay. I took the above photo, added a closeup of Marilee Schiff's signature at the bottom of the print, wrote a few paragraphs aptly describing the item and providing a bit of human interest background, and listed the item.
Today, almost exactly four months after I had listed the framed peacock print, it sold for a nickel shy of $20.
The way I see it, the entire experience has been a win-win-win-win-win transaction. Here's what I mean:
- The yard sale proceeds ensured the longevity of the Pioneer Park Aviary;
- Marilee Schiff's beautiful artwork and uplifting behind the scenes story was further promoted;
- I made a wonderful sale on eBay;
- The buyer added a relatively inexpensive yet gorgeous framed print to his collection;
- And the peacocks in Walla Walla can continue to proudly fan their iridescent tail feathers and trumpet their clarion calls!