Every year we say we are never, ever doing this again. Then May rolls around and we’re setting up tables, slapping stickers on stuff as we pull it out of boxes, bags, and totes, scrambling to get everything setup while eager shoppers are already perusing our goods.
It’s a painful process all the way around, first the sorting and purging, making the sometimes difficult decision of parting with something that was once useful or beloved. Or the opposite, the guilt associated with that thing you spent good money on, but never used. Or the item you received as a gift that didn’t suit you and made you wonder whether the gift giver liked or even knew you at all. All these things go into the yard sale box, which goes to the yard sale staging area to live with other similar boxes.
Then it’s time to price. How much would someone be willing to pay for a banana slicer or a garlic press? A coffee table with water stains from all those people who refused to use a coaster? The dozens of stuffed animals you were able to talk your daughter out of keeping with the words, “you can use the money to buy something you really like?” The dog dish with the name Fido? Scraps you had leftover from a knitting or quilting project? All the gently and not so gently used clothes that your kids have outgrown?
What methodology do you use? Do you put colored stickers on items with a chart that states the price of each color? Do you individually price each item or put like items on a table with one price? If you’re having the sale with another person, do you put your initials on the sticker or does the color designate the person to whom it belongs? Or do you offer bulk discounts with a marketing pitch – “fill a bag for $2.00” or “$1.00 each or $10.00 for a set of fifteen?”
If you’ve gotten through all that, it’s time to start table scrounging. You gather up every table you can find, folding tables, card tables, even sawhorses and plywood when you run out of real tables and still have more stuff. Sometimes you can’t find enough tables so you use tarps and blankets to display your wares or string a line between two trees so you can use it to hang clothes.
You’re ready to put stuff on the tables and other waiting receptacles but now you have to decide if you’re going to sort your stuff by type or if you’re going to keep it completely random. If you’re a planner, you’ve been saving your change and singles to fill your cash box. If not, you’re making a mad dash to the bank to get change in those lovely little paper wrappers they use to make them easy to transport.
There are a variety of shoppers that come to your yard. There’s the guy who just wants gun parts or the woman who’s looking for canning jars. There are the kids who completely destroy your toy display and rip the leg off your action hero or the precious little girl who wants that dolly so badly that you let her have it for a quarter even though you paid twenty-five dollars for it. There are the lookie loos who look at all your stuff like it has cooties and make you want to say, “hey, all this stuff was really cool once!” There’s the person that offers you a dollar for something that’s clearly worth twenty, but you have marked at ten. There’s the person who comes five minutes before the sale ends and asks if you’d just like them to take the rest of the stuff. And you kind of do, because you are so done with yard saling at this point and just want it to be over.
Instead you go into sort mode again – what goes in the big box labeled “FREE” that will go to the curb, what goes into a box to donate, what goes into your vehicle to take over to Betty’s house so you can try to sell it again when she has her yard sale, and yes, there’s that thing that you didn’t really want to sell and are relieved that no one bought so you can add it back into your household goods.
Finally you sit at the table, sunburned and weary, and count your dollars and quarters and rejoice at your earnings or realize that over the last three days you made one dollar and eighty cents an hour, not including all the time you spent sorting and pricing.
How do you feel about yard sales? Have you ever had one? Have you ever been to one? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on Facebook!