I like yard sales. Often they aren’t worth the energy it takes to get out of the car, but I still clearly remember a variety of fabulous finds that makes the hope and anticipation worth the awkward walk up someone’s driveway to pass judgment on their belongings while they watch to see my reaction. (“Ooo, he’s reaching for the Lake Tahoe Snow Globe—rats, he barely shook it enough to get flurries, let alone the desired blizzard effect.”)
However, while there are no “rules” to having a yard sale, there are definitely too many interpretations of what differentiates a yard sale from an explosion in the garage that leaves your neglected junk strewn across the front lawn. To that end, I am offering a few helpful tips on how to make the yard sale experience pleasant for everyone. (Especially me.)
- This ain’t Ebay, folks. Yes, you did see the same vintage Brady Bunch tin lunch box online for $68.00 with two days of bidding left, but that one was in mint condition: Yours seems to have spent the last 20 years as a receptacle for rusty nails and some form of petroleum jelly. If the duct tape hinge doesn’t kill the sale, the sticker of Count Chocula’s face covering the visage of Eve Plumb will. If someone offers 25 cents, take it and be glad you don’t have to tote it back into the garage.
- Two words: Price tags. Are you afraid that setting a price will forestall a possible sale, or are you trying to size me up before you commit to a price on the rusty screwdrivers? “How about two bucks?” you offer with the forced, faux-slick tone of a car salesman who thinks he finally found a buyer for the used Yugo. Two bucks—I know you’d take 50 cents. But they’re not worth a dime.
- A yard sale should not be viewed as an opportunity to recoup your investment on the Formica dinette that you purchased in 1979. $100.00? Problems: First, most dinettes come with 4 chairs, yours comes with two orange and one taller brown, and there is stuffing visible on all three. Second, unless you plan to include that folded-four-times piece of corrugated cardboard that’s propping up the back leg, I am thinking this table isn’t exactly level. Third, the name carved into the table surface might be charming if my daughter’s name was “Bucky”, but alas, it’s not. No sale.
- It’s true, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure—but that hypothetical other man is too busy to go to yard sales today. The only folks who are coming by are those who agree that the most valuable item at your sale is the not-for-sale saw-horses holding up the sagging plywood display table. Your oil soaked, size 7 work boots with the turned up toes, the Christmas album they gave out for free at the Chevron last year, the backgammon board without the checkers, the half-burned candles, the Mr. Coffee sans carafe—you couldn’t get rid of that crap even if the taped-on prices were written on $1 bills.
- No underwear, no toothbrushes, no bed pans. Do I really need to explain this one?
- Keep your day job. The yard sale is a nice way to earn enough money to buy a new charcoal grill or an off-brand vcr, but it shouldn’t be listed on your loan application as “supplementary income.” There’s one such yard sale in my neighborhood, running 6 days a week since May. If they had anything of value, it sold by day 2. At this point, their 1/8 acre lot looks like a shrine to Worthlessness, and their devotion is inscrutable.
Thanks for your cooperation, and good luck! If all else fails, get your kids out there with a lemonade jug, that’s always good for a couple of bucks. (Unless your kids like lemonade.)