No More Garage Sales For Me
By Jeff Salter
This week our topic is garage and/or yard sales… and whether we’ve participated as buyer, seller, or both.
Well, I’ve dabbled in such sales as a purchaser or potential purchaser, but I have to tell you — unless you approach this as a “pro” you’re liable to see mainly the leftover junk. Those I consider pros are the ones who map out the sales of any given weekend, study the ads to determine who potentially has the best stuff, and arrive super early – sometimes even before the announced time – to have their pick of the lot. And those pros do occasionally find real bargains.
But by the time the pros have long gone – and I get around to the sale – all the cool stuff is gone and what remains is usually just more of the same clutter I have at home.
Though I/we participated in several – which we either hosted or joined with neighbors or friends – I mostly remember one particular sale, with two other families (I think), which we hosted at our house. This was back in about 1981, I believe.
The sale had a very good attendance and quite a lot was sold. Altogether, it grossed a considerable amount of money and our family’s share was nothing to sneeze at. But let me tell you the two aspects of this sale which totally soured me on ever participating in another (at least as the host family).
Who we partnered with
In this sale, other than some items from a neighbor or two (as I recall), we primarily partnered with my boss. Yeah, my boss at work. We were also friends, but when he took over our garage sale, he didn’t behave like a guest at our sale and he didn’t act like a friend — though “off-duty,” he was still my boss… and he considered himself an expert in garage sales. Consequently, he took charge of how I arranged my garage – which he insisted was totally empty – how the clothing was to be displayed, where the various tables were placed, and what went on them, etc.
The following was a tiny matter in the scheme of the complete sale, but the way it was handled sort of captured how the entire sale was conducted. My (clothes) dryer vent extended a few inches into the garage and my boss wanted to snug a table (or something) against that wall. He said I should remove the dryer vent so we could utilize those extra two inches. I said I didn’t want to pull out that vent because I knew it would be difficult to put back in. So he just reached down and yanked it out. Yeah… like it was his vent at his house. See? He was still my boss.
Who does the bargaining on your stuff
The other huge mistake I made with our two day (Fri. and Sat.) sale was that I went to work that Friday and left the sale in the control of my boss. We had carefully marked all our own items with the asking prices and nobody had discussed how much we might be willing to go below those amounts… or who would make those decisions. In other words, it was left up in the air who would do the bargaining with potential buyers about our merchandise… if we were not there to do it ourselves.
Well, in this instance, I got home from work that Friday, after a brisk sale all day long at my house… and found a lot of my stuff had been sold. That was good (theoretically). Then I learned that my guitar (with case) had been sold for $5.00 and my Frankenstein monster boots had sold for $1.00… and I freaked. “Who sold my great stuff for those cruddy prices?” I wailed. “I would never have let them go for those amounts.”
Well, as you’ve already likely guessed, it was my boss who determined that my merchandise could be sold for only a fraction of the price I had carefully placed on each item. Those two examples are simply the ones I remember in particular. The clear overall theme was that my boss was perfectly willing for me to receive 20 or 25 cents for every dollar of my careful pricing. There was no attempt to phone me at work, no thought (on his part) that I might prefer to keep said items than to let them go at such rock bottom prices.
I should probably clarifyy that my boss was a pretty good person, all told… the problem was that he couldn’t easily let go of being boss when we were in settings other than work. And, further, that he didn’t recognize this behavior was a problem.
After that experience, I had no stomach for any further garage/yard sales. Even if I’d not developed such a bad taste in my mouth – for the sale (at my home) being “bossed” by my work supervisor and my carefully priced items being liquidated for laughably piddling amounts – I would be deterred from future sales by the sheer amount of work involved. Everything has to be identified, relocated, sorted, priced, and displayed. A location must be set in a high traffic area. Publicity – ads and signs – must be dealt with. Somebody has to handle the money and the decisions. And somebody has to sit at the sale for those 10-12 hours each day.
Folks, that’s a LOT of work and time… when you can donate those same items to a charitable institution and take a deduction on the value of the items.
No more sales for me.
Are you a big fan of garage/yard sales? As a seller or a buyer?
[JLS # 344]