My phone rang yesterday morning: "Pat, we're going to have a garage sale this weekend. Get your stuff out." The dread in Gena's voice voice was palpable.
My next door neighbors have decided it's time for us to bite the bullet and have another garage sale, so Steve and I have been busy digging out, cleaning out, sorting, pricing, washing, and organizing all the junk we want to get rid of. Between the combining of our two households, we have a lot of junk and duplicate items.
I like to go to estate sales and the occasional yard sale, as regular readers know, but having one is something I so hate to do. It's not the work involved, or the prep. Let me give you an example of how our luck runs with yard sales.
My neighbors, Donny & Gena (you remember them - Taz's parents), and I joined together about ten years ago for a yard sale. We worked all week long dragging stuff out of closets and cabinets. I sat on the living room floor for hours pricing clothes. We set up as much as we could the night before - got clothes racks ready and tables. Donny even mowed the grass so it all looked nice. We put our signs out and I think we even put an ad in the paper. We were to start at 6 a.m.
On the big day I set my alarm for 4:30 so I could shower and get my junk hauled outside and set up. When I looked outside at 5 a.m., there were people poking around outside with flashlights. There wasn't anything out there yet, but there they were, looking around the side of the houses and in the backyard to see where we'd stashed our stuff. I called Gena and we got a move on.
Buyers come in waves at these things. You either have nobody looking through your junk or you have twenty people at once.
We were doing pretty good early on. Lots of customers and everyone was pretty nice. Donny & Gena had some high ticket items and did really well; they had an oriental folding screen that he got $300 for. I was jealous. All my junk was $1.00, $0.50; I think my highest priced thing was $5.00 and I got haggled down from that.
As the morning goes on you get the lags between customers and then they all want to haggle. I realize that's part of the deal, but when you're asking $5.00 for a lined, suede coat in great condition, and someone says, "Will you take $1.00?", you've got to wonder..."is this even worth it?"
About 10:30 a battered, rusted out car pulled up and two adults and a child got out. The woman was in shorts and the man was in cut-off overalls with no shirt underneath. The child was about eight and had nothing on but a diaper. They all were covered in scabs and had dirt in the folds of their skin. They browsed, visited a little, and seemed in no rush to go anywhere. They bought a coffee mug.
By this time, not quite 11, it was already hot and humid outside. I had refolded, straightened merchandise, rearranged things for the umpeenth time. Gena and I got sidewalk chalk and drew arrows in the street pointing to our sale to drum up more customers.
A car with seven people pulled up, grazed through the stuff, complained because we didn't have drinks, and wanted a $0.25 ashtray for $0.10 because it had a chip in it.
Then the lady drove up who wanted to know if we had any S&M items.
That's when Gena and I started drinking.
She bought an entire box of Donny's old Playboy magazines.
By that time, the hagglers didn't bother me. "Will you take $0.50 for this stack of albums?"
"Sure. No problem."
In the end I think I made about $50.00, barely enough to cover my part of the newspaper ad. Donny and Gena did much better at about $800. I think there's an art to pricing that I haven't figured out yet.
Whatever we had left Donny just set out nice and neat on the curb with a sign that said "Free!" and we went inside. By the end of the day it was all gone. All of it.
Anyway, we're going to give it another go. It took both of us about ten years to get over that last experience and we might be crazy to do it again, but here we go.
Stay tuned for Part II Saturday.