The Only Yard Sale Rule You REALLY Need

07/11/2011

Urgency Day 44

no tempests here

500 Things Items 452-455: Teapots

  • History: Once and perhaps future yard sale inventory
  • Value: Depends on who’s buying and who’s selling
  • Parting pain: If I’m selling, depends on who’s buying
  • Un-possessing: TBD

Yard sales were on my radar last weekend.

They kept popping up, around the neighborhood, sure, but in conversations and various on-line sites I follow as well. My friend Elizabeth commented on Facebook that on Saturday morning she was just cleaning out her garage, you know, simply pulling stuff out to tidy up, and made $7 from some determined drive-by bargain hunters.

I think this might put a question mark next to how important advertising is for yard sale success.

I have a good track record when it comes to staging yard sales. But it’s been so long since I held one, my record on the matter is literally that: a record, an l.p. Vinyl. So, my advice may be a bit out of date.

Recently, I’ve heard many sellers complain that buyers haggle too aggressively or show up too early, before the bleary-eyed seller has even had the first bracing cup of coffee.

It sounds like determination on both sides to me: One party is determined to make money; one, not to spend money. Problems arise when someone takes it personally, the making and the not spending. But how do you not take it personally? It’s your stuff and/or  it’s your cash.

One of the references to yard selling I saw over the weekend advised going to a local Goodwill or other thrift store and buying a bunch of cheap stuff that you could resell at a profit. That certainly takes the personal out of the equation, since it’s not your stuff.

<Insert the sound of my soul-weary sigh here>

Buying stuff and counting on reselling it and making a profit on it at a yard sale sounds like a risky venture at best and a fantastically tedious usage of time at worst. Thinking of my life-energy being spent in that way makes me cranky. But that’s my determination.

I have determined that I prefer donating to Goodwill. I don’t get cold hard cash as I would at a yard sale, but I do get a tax break. If you scrupulously itemize all donations then use the government’s tax-deduction guidelines to determine write-offs, you always get more for your stuff than at a yard sale.

Let me repeat that: YOU ALWAYS GET MORE FOR YOUR STUFF BY DONATING IN THIS WAY THAN YOU WOULD BY SELLING IT AT A YARD SALE.

Okay, fine.

  • Do I occasionally miss haggling chatting with my fellow humans on a fine Saturday morning? I guess.
  •  Do I miss making a very little actual cash for my clutter? Of course.
  • Could I imagine trying sales over donations ever again? NO. Sure…

but I have a very good imagination.

So, HERE is my ONE HARD AND FAST, GOLDEN RULE for a successful yard sale:

DETERMINE A PRICE FOR EVERY SINGLE ITEM YOU ARE SELLING BEFORE CHEERFULLY GREETING YOUR FIRST GUESTS!

And label label label with tags that won’t come unstuck in the morning humidity.

Yes, it’s more time consuming than just tossing your stuff out on the driveway. It also saves time and frustration in dealing with people. So if you can’t or don’t want to price (and label),  just tidy up and head for Goodwill. Maybe you will still make $7 cash. And your blood pressure will thank you.

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9 Responses to “The Only Yard Sale Rule You REALLY Need”

  1. melanie Says:

    My neighborhood garage sale is coming up again. Have had only 3 garage sales in my lifetime (Goodwill is my easy go-to for drop offs; and the employees impress me). But in the spirit, I’ll have a garage sale with the neighborhood at the end of July. Bring your stuff! We’ll sell together! When someone offers me $1 for something I tagged at $15, I can just turn to you, smile, then turn back to the “haggler,” and say “Thank you, but no. Have a nice day.”

  2. kara Says:

    This makes me feel better about the $35 we made at our last sale. Salvation Army came and picked up a good part of our unsold goods. They are very picky about what they will take (no desks, no dinning room tables without matching chairs, no painted furniture). When refusing some of our furniture, I said, “Wait a minute, I think I bought this at Salvation Army.” I recommend putting everything in boxes and taping it up or taking it to Goodwill.

  3. sthibeault Says:

    HA! Gotta love the irony. I think the only answer is pre-emptive– but that does me little good as I try to clean up the mess from my former profligate life. I wish I could have seen a picture of your painted furniture. That sounds incredibly desirable! What was their objection?


  4. My own essential yard sale rule is slightly different. The night before the yard sale, get a very drunk college student to drive a pickup across your neighbor’s lawn and wipe out his new Acura, slamming it into the front porch and collapsing the roof. Arrange to have the photo of that event on the front page of the paper the next morning. Then spend all day telling gawkers-turned-customers the part of the story not reported in the paper (the two girls in the pickup got into a fabulous fistfight in the middle of the street that the neighbor had to break up) and end the day counting your take over a cold beer. Works like a charm.

  5. sthibeault Says:

    “Like a charm.” Thanks for the drive across memory lawn! We did make some serious change at that sale.

  6. melanie Says:

    That really happened?!! You ARE fun people!

  7. boysgonewild Says:

    Thanks for the blog love. I am sure it helped immensely that I live at the end of a VERY busy street. Next to a sign that read “Yard Sale” but didn’t give an address. 🙂

  8. sthibeault Says:

    Hey, Missy, don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story! Anyway, I know where you live (meant in the non-threatening sense!) 🙂


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