The Desperate Life Of A Flea Market Shammie Salesman

Reader Tim found himself selling shammies at flea markets to earn his way through college and made this video about it. These aren’t ShamWows, mind you. No, something more degrading. It’s the knockoff Wow!” brand shammie. Wholesale: $.70 per sheet, yours for only $3.30 a piece! He says it was like working at the “Bazaar of Despair.”

What degrading things have you done (or are currently doing) in order to make extra cash? Sound off in the comments.


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  1. the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

    Okay, not to make him feel worse, but I would rather work in fast food than do this :(

    • tsukiotoshi says:

      Hmm, I don’t know. I used to work in fast food in high school and after watching this I think I would rather hang out in a flea market all day trying to hock shammies or some other useless product than smell and feel like a greasy french fry every day.

      • Kuri says:

        At least in the flea market you get to interact with people.

        • RayanneGraff says:

          This is not always a good thing, at least not in the flea markets where I live. There are 3 types of people who go to the ones where I live- people who have 20″ rims on their 1988 Camry & who will SHOOT YOU for looking at them wrong, people who don’t speak english & make gross comments about every woman they see, assuming none of us speak THEIR language, and the potheads who crowd around the bong stands. The potheads are the only ones who I wouldn’t RUN from if confronted with alone.

      • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

        But I LIKE grease skating in the Hardee’s kitchen (at least I did in High School).

        • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

          Hurr. I used to do that at the ice cream shop where I worked for about a year-ish. Only instead of grease, it was melted ice cream.

    • aloria says:

      I worked at Burger King, and believe me, people become absolutely rabid and insane when it comes to their food.

    • dragonfire81 says:

      As someone who had done both, trust me: Flea Markets are WAAY better.

    • Toffeemama is looking for a few good Otters says:

      No, thank you. I used to work at a movie theater, came home smelling like butter every day.

      • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

        Methinks you may have just dated yourself here. Since when did movie theatres actually put real butter on popcorn? I remember a time a few years back going to a movie and going up to the concession stand to get my wallet emptied…er…buy some popcorn.

        “I’d like a medium popcorn and a medium Coke.”
        “Would you like hydrolyzed canola oil on your popcorn?”
        “No thanks, not the way you described it.”

  2. Superdemon says:

    I would rather walk rabid weasels for extra cash than do anything like this.

    • Harrkev says:

      Actually, rabid weasels sound like fun. Where can I get this job? A quick search of “rabid weasel” did not turn up anything on Craigslist…

  3. samonela says:

    …but will we love his nuts?

  4. MamaBug says:

    The slo-mo creepy dude was worth it.

    • Mobius says:

      Was he staring into your soul? He was staring into mine.

      • MamaBug says:

        I think the girl with the painted face – eyes – was making sure that he got my last bit of humanity. Or she was relieved from her narrow escape.

      • El_Fez says:

        Even worse for me – the buffering on youtube stopped with him RIGHT in the middle of the screen. Him just staring at me. . . and staring. . . and staring. . .

  5. FreshPorcupineSalad says:

    Absorbs every last ounce of pride in seconds!

  6. sliverworm says:

    lol @ 3:04-3:10

  7. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    I worked at a call center when I was laid off my job last year in April. An AT&T call center.

  8. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    Also, Tim should do voiceovers – he sounds like he could make a killing at that.

  9. Mundo says:

    Would it be appropriate for me to thank him for making me appreciate the job I have now, if only for today, after watching this?

  10. Me - now with more humidity says:

    I cleaned out a sheep barn with a pitchfork to make money for a date once. I stunk so bad I had to cancel.

  11. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    Fnoo fnoo fnoo!!!

  12. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    I was at a state fair in NC watching a guy give a shammy demonstration, and they were cheap and useful-seeming enough that I bought a set. And then had to lug around the roll like a novelty hot dog the rest of the fair.

    I have always been a fan of real chamois, because it is so greasy-smooth when wet. I purchased a scrap of it to use for wiping DVDs clean of fingerprints at my previous video rental job; it was much nicer than the microfiber glass wipe I also bought, though my coworkers preferred that. These shammy cloths are not nearly as fun.

    (And yes, I got in the habit of checking and wiping DVDs when I rented them out, and when I checked them back in. Got tired of people returning a DVD within an hour of rental because it would not work … and the only problem was greasy fingerprints.)

  13. Murph1908 says:

    Plasma donation during college. $15 per donation, up to 2 donations per week was allowed. Took less than an hour, if you didn’t have to wait for a chair. Bring your textbook and study while you give.

    Half the people in my house would go at least once a month. The liquor store next door would cash the checks for free. I took the plunge the first time to make some money for a special weekend with my girlfriend. She found out, and started going too.

    • FightOnTrojans says:

      I did the medical test dummy thing a few times. Every time our med school had some kind of vendor fair or something, I would go and be the demonstration patient. I’ve had so many ultrasounds and MRIs done that if there was anything wrong with me, I would have known about it by now, what with several hundred doctors having looked at my scans.

      • Halliday says:

        I tried donating blood plasma one time in college. After 15 minutes of the “nurse” poking my arm trying to find a vein I was told to go home. By that time I was looking visibly ill from the process and they felt I would be a problem donor. Later my wife and would volunteer for testing for the pysch student experiments. $30 for 1 hour for sitting at a desk and answering some weird questions? Sign me up!

      • Halliday says:

        I tried donating blood plasma one time in college. After 15 minutes of the “nurse” poking my arm trying to find a vein I was told to go home. By that time I was looking visibly ill from the process and they felt I would be a problem donor. Later my wife and would volunteer for testing for the pysch student experiments. $30 for 1 hour for sitting at a desk and answering some weird questions? Sign me up!

  14. The hand that feeds, now with more bacon says:

    It’s chamois.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      Not if it’s an artificial substitute…like this.

      • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

        Right. The way I have always understood it, you use “Chamois” when it is the actual skin of the actual Chamois Goat and “Shammy” if it is a cloth that has similar properties. It does not help that they sound the same, though.

    • Platypi {Redacted} says:

      I am picturing you with a monocle and cigarette holder, looking down your nose as you unnecessarily correct things. “It’s CHAMOIS, dear chap.”

    • dailyWAV says:

      I was just going to say the same thing – It’s a bit depressing that Ben doesn’t know how to spell chamois.

  15. mac-phisto says:

    g/l, tim. here’s a tip so you don’t spend your entire life selling knock-off shammies: take “sham wow” out of all of your videos before you get sued. it’s a registered trademark.

  16. Mira Mi Huevo!!! says:

    I used to work at an Exxon gas station in a small South Texas town when I was 18 and let me tell you… IT WAS A S#1THOLE, Literally a S#1THOLE!!!

    The hours were s#1tty, the pay was s#1tty and people treat you like s#1t and do unspeakable things in the restrooms… I don’t know why, but they would find the most “creative” ways to s#1t everywhere but in the toilet.

    Guess who had to clean all that S#1T? Being the newest guy… me of course!!!
    In summation, I would have gladly taken his job and a kick to the groin in exchange for mine!!!

    • Toffeemama is looking for a few good Otters says:

      We’re adults here; you can say “shit”.

    • Dave Farquhar says:

      I was working the night shift at a certain electronics/appliance big-box store. At close, we were cleaning up, and a coworker discovered someone had disposed of a dirty diaper by cramming it into one of the store fixtures. Being the newest guy, I got stuck with the cleanup job, but one of the in-store techs took pity on me and slipped me a set of long-nosed pliers to help me keep my distance.

      • lockdog says:

        I cleaned outhouses for the Forest Service (okay, they called them latrines). Unfortunately this was an area heavily frequented by Boy Scout Troops. You would not believe what a group of thirteen year olds could do to an outhouse. That alone would attract animals, so you might get really interesting combinations of human, porcupine, raccoon, mouse and bear shit all in a three by three space. I had an Indian pump (think really heavy metal backpack supersoaker), a shovel, and trash bags.

  17. Hobz says:

    I moonlight as a stripper every other day. It’s degrading to say the least and it’s worse when I get stiffed on tips…

  18. dreamfish says:

    I have a rule – always work in business-to-business jobs where I deal with professional clients. Many years ago I briefly had a role where I spoke directly to customers (i.e. the general public). Never again.

  19. peebozi says:

    this and home shows…the worst scammers work them (builders, vendors, suppliers, etc)

  20. kinickie says:

    Working at Geek Squad during college paid for expenses that my scholarships didn’t cover. Back then you actually had to have more than consumer level knowledge of computers in order to work there (at least in my store).

  21. paulthegeek says:

    I worked for Cutco (oops, I’m sorry, “Vector Marketing”) for about a week.

    Don’t get me wrong, the knives really are very nice (and VERY expensive), but the company’s marketing and distribution model sucks arse.

    • BurtReynolds says:

      Same with Kirby vacuums. Fine product. Yes its expensive, but it should last forever. Unfortunately, they employ the sleaziest distribution method ever.

      I really wonder why the folks running Cutco and Kirby don’t pursue a more mainstream method for selling their products? I mean there are vacuum stores that sell Oreck, why couldn’t they sell Kirby as well? Or set up a deal with Costco or something.

  22. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    I’ve recently taken to buying stuff at the flea market and selling it to people either also at the flea market, or online.

    That said, I see many of these people at the one big flea market near me. There is the Shammie sales guy, the miracle anti-fog stick person, the will clean anything cloth(miracle cloth, and they actually work), the amazing solution that cleans any carpet, the amazing faucet filter/head that makes your water more powerful by mixing it with oxygen(water with oxygen in it? I’m highly dubious of that claim), etc… I give them all credit.

  23. INsano says:

    Small town grocery store deli/coffee stand during college summers. Watching the obese guzzle down potato and macaroni salads by the gallons to wash them down with 44 oz. of soda was life ebbing. The walk-in freezer was my solace.

  24. nobomojo says:

    I don’t think it’s degrading at all, but my friends always get a kick out of this, I review XXX movies for extra cash.

  25. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Urp, once I got a job working at a laundromat, doing Fluff and Fold. In other words, washing other peoples’ shirts/pants/underpants. I lasted two weeks before I caved. Just could not do it. Also I already had a full-time job and was just too tired.

  26. Mr. Pottersquash says:

    didnt that guy who used to sell vegatable peelers on the streets of NY make millions?

  27. williamroy says:

    The only thing worse than having this job is listening to him complain about how bad it is. Seriously – has he ever wanted to actually sell one of these things? Seems like he’s having more fun yapping non-stop about how stupid it all is. Kind of self-fulfilling, isn’t it?

  28. Heini says:

    For a short time during the mid-eighties, I worked the nightshift at the solo videocabins at the backalley of a sexshop near the trainstation. The work itself was easy, lots of time for textbook reading, actual just being around to prevent some monkeybusiness and changing bills to coins for feeding the videoplayers. At the end of the shift I had to clean the 6 or 8 cabins, but growing up in the countryside I was used to life and its odors.
    What made me looking for an other job was the loneliness of the place. People (only men) sneaking in, pretenting, not to see you, rushing into the cabins, and afterwards hurring away. Rarely did I speak with someone.
    The top was when one night a fellow student, who I know on a first name base, came in, went to a cabin, and later left, the whole time pretenting not recognizing me.
    I dont know if you ever experiencend the atmosphere at the hallways of a brothel (here they are legal), well there the men are a 100 times more relaxed and sociabel.

  29. mac_daddy says:

    Reminds me of an episode of Wonder Showzen…

  30. fuceefacee says:

    I can top everyone. Years ago during a very desperate time in my life I took baby portraits at Kmart’s throughout Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky. I was rarely home and in the end got screwed out of most of my earnings, not by Kmart but by the vendor they used. I lived in cheap dismal motels and dealt all day with dismal people in dismal town’s looking for a deal on baby photo’s. The worst part was the pressure to up sell extras like frames and jewelery to go with the pictures. Those were very dark days but it did make me go back to school and get a marketable skill.

    I haven’t thought about this in years.

    Stay in school.

  31. massageon says:

    Poor guy. This was just pathetic

  32. akacrash says:

    I highschool I sold candy in class for extra $$. At first I sold M&Ms as if I was part of whatever fundraising was going on in school at the time. Then I switched to selling blowpop lollypops. A bag of 100 pops was $5 at costco. Sold for 25 cents each, $20 profit per bag. I’d sell 2 bags a day, every day. Sure, I made all my money in quarters, but it was $200 a week and minimally extra effort. Still one of the best money making things I ever did.

    (Second best was lifeguarding. Paid well to sit and watch people play. Occationally saw cute girls. Occationally saved someone’s life..)

  33. sniega says:

    Man, I wish that the consumerist would caption the videos they choose to put on here. It would be nice to be able to enjoy what everyone else is.

  34. Ben_Q2 says:

    Ammo, I sold ammo to anyone who had the cash. Did really good at it. Yes I sold to both sides.

  35. wee_willie says:

    Ugh! I actually have two of these, and they are worthless!