So, putting on a yard sale is, like, a lot of work. And, as always when dealing with random strangers for prolonged periods of time, you’re bound to run into some interesting moments.
I decided to have a yard sale for obvious reasons (i.e. moving), but also for more obscure reasons. I spent the last few weeks listening to Marie Kondo’s audiobook, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, so every time I got out of my car, I’d head straight to a cluttered area of my house and begin weeding through. As the number of garbage bags grew, I decided making even 25-cents per item at a yard sale would be nicer than simply donating everything. In addition to Ms. Kondo’s Japanese-accented voice running through my mind, my brain also conjured up Dave Ramsey’s twang, which told me I should sell some stuff if I wanted to make extra cash. Sounded good to me! Thanks, Marie and Dave!
Also, since we moved into our current house in June (have I mentioned that moving is the worst?), if we haven’t used an item by now–especially after going through the holidays–it’s time to ditch it.
And so, it was time to call in the troops. Mainly my mother, known affectionately as “Mama Sr.,” for purposes of this blog, and my husband, who was mainly utilized for his manly strength.
I set a date, posted on Facebook Marketplace, bought ridiculously over-priced garage sale signs, and hunkered down to wait for random strangers to come to my home to rifle through my belongings while I watched hopefully from a folding chair in my garage.
Here’s what I learned from my experience:
People will lie unabashedly.
We had one middle-aged lady with a heavy foreign accent bring a few items to purchase. The total should have been around $14.
Lady: “I only have $10.”
Me: (Smiling and feeling generous) “OK, I’ll take $10.”
Lady pulls out a $20. I dig in my stylish fanny pack for change.
Lady: “Thank you!”
Lady looks over my shoulder into my garage.
Lady: “Do you have any gardening tools…?”
Ahem. What happened to your “I only have $10” and your sad puppy eyes, eh? EH?!
Sigh. I’m a total pushover when it comes to giving or getting a deal. You should see me at a car dealership: “Oh! That’s the price! OK, I’d rather just give you the extra money than have to barter with you, as bartering makes me sweat in really obvious places.” Eesh. Also, a vendor at a souvenir hut in Hawaii made me cry over $1 when I was 16. True story. Haggling is the worst.
People always find that last stash of money.
If someone really wants something, they’ll find that extra bit of change in the most mysterious and surprising place to make the deal. If I stood firm on a price, people would suddenly start digging in pockets, car consoles, purses, husband’s pockets, hidden wallet pockets, etc., and, somehow, they’d always cough up exactly what was needed.
Something will probably get stolen.
At one point, we had a large family with a handful of rowdy children visit. Mama Sr., and I were distracted by the children, as they were trying to play with everything and go into restricted areas. Somewhere along the line, someone attempted to snag a pair of boy’s dress shoes. Only they missed (see photo).
Surprising things sell really well.
Our best sellers were definitely my jewelry and adult clothes. Kid clothes sold well to the smattering of young moms or grandmothers who visited, but most of our clientele comprised of middle-aged and older patrons. Also, my husband’s decade-old chemistry and biology textbooks sold at a surprising rate. At the start of Day Two, I was combing through my closet again, hoping to find more items that failed to “spark joy.”
Middle-aged men love to yard sale.
I didn’t see this one coming. I would say at least a third of our visitors were middle-aged men by themselves. Some were obviously looking to resell a deal they discovered, but others were legitimately yard sale-ing. Unfortunately for them, my yard sale consisted mostly of baby and kid clothes, with a healthy dose of novels, Christmas decorations and toys. They all wanted tools, so they came, delivered their cheesy jokes-of-the-day, and left empty handed.
You’re allowed to not buy anything at a yard sale.
Do other people have this problem? Whenever I see a yard sale sign, I get nervous (see car dealership anecdote above). I’d like to browse, but what if I don’t buy anything? Will that be super awkward? The answer: No, not really. I had plenty of people come, take a gander, say “thank you!”, and go along their merry way. Not everyone needs onesies and baby blankets.
If you stay open long enough, someone with a rented U-Haul trailer will inevitably drive by looking for a deal.
This happened at the end of Day Two. Surprisingly, though, the man wouldn’t even counter when I told him the price on our couch. This was the final straw in deciding we should just keep the couch.
Don’t allow your 2-year-old to see her “babies!!” on the sale table.
For The Record. I wasn’t selling any of her favorite toys. I only sold items she never, ever touched or noticed. She got to keep her 10-ish babies that sleep in her crib every night. However, she did start yelling, pointing, and crying when she saw a woman holding “my unicorn purse!”. Yeah, that made for an awkward, but swift transaction.
Invite your mom.
Well, I suppose you could invite any trusted friend/relative to help, but I’m going to say that help is a necessity. If you don’t have a partner, how could you even sprint to the bathroom during the seven-plus hours of commerce? Another bonus? Your partner may find something he/she likes and clear out even more of your inventory!
So, I have actually participated in one other yard sale. When I was about eight, my grandparents had to move, so my mom helped my grandmother with her yard sale. Mostly, I remember a big stack of National Geographic magazines, very early hours, and my grandmother saying, “Yard sales are a lot of work for not much money.” Fairly true, Grandma. Though, when you’re moving and money seems to be pouring out of your bank account at an alarming rate, every quarter is a blessing.
Early Riser by Jasper Fforde – First, I love this man’s name. Doesn’t it just sound like a clever British man who lives in Wales? Anywho. Mr. Fforde has written some of my favorite science fiction, including The Eyre Affair and Shades of Grey. I have no idea how his mind works, but I look forward to seeing how things unfold in this novel. It’ll probably be my last Florida library book before we head north (sob!).