Holding a Yard Sale – just don’t

You’ve probably been to a yard sale. You may have even been dumb enough to host a yard sale. Don’t feel bad – we’ve been dumb enough to host yard sales too. And yes, “yard sales”, as in “more than one.” I would say that I don’t know why we hosted a second, and a third, yard sale after the utter disaster of the first one, but I know exactly why we did. We did it because we had too.much.stuff. My advice to you: If you’re thinking of holding a yard sale, don’t.

Before you get all excited, I know that some people absolutely love holding yard sales. If you’re one of those people, kudos to you! And if you’ve got advice for Holding a Yard Sale Without Losing Your Mind, please leave a comment – I’d love to hear about it! Also, I myself love going to yard sales, and I assure you that I exhibit none of the behaviors exhibited by our yard sale attendees. So please invite me to yours; I promise to behave.

Yard Sale 1

We were preparing to move out of a pretty big house we’d lived in for 11 years, and we had accumulated more stuff than I even thought possible. I’d guess that 25% of it was junk, or at least no longer useful to us. That’s if you count the stuff in the house and the garage. But the attic – the ATTIC! A full 90% of the stuff in that attic was barely recognizable, let alone anything we still needed. But we just knew that someone needed it. And do you have any idea what that crap stuff cost us new? We’re gonna make a fortune!

We were prepared; we were full of optimism and enthusiasm; we were the poster children for HGTV’s Top Tips for Throwing a Successful Yard Sale.

Yard Sale Day!

We were SO excited. We couldn’t wait for the sale to start at 8:00 am. Actually, we didn’t have to wait until 8:00 am, because people began arriving at 6:45. I have no idea what these people thought they were going to find – certainly not a priceless work of art that we didn’t recognize when we cleaned out the attic. People who find that stuff – well, those are not our people; we find things like Giant Hot Dogs.

We scrambled out of our pajamas and into our clothes and ran outside, and that’s when the real excitement began. The next three hours were an endless loop of me yelling three things:

“No, please don’t touch that!”
“Yes, it has a price on it!”
“No, I’m not taking $1 for that dining room set!”

What I was NOT yelling – because I didn’t catch them in time – was “Kids! I TOLD YOU WE ARE SELLING THAT! NO, DO NOT TAKE IT BACK INSIDE.” Suddenly, all three kids had developed an absurd sentimentality for stuff that, an hour earlier, they would just as soon have set on fire. But the laws of economics and the “demand” factor took hold of my kids, as if they were suddenly possessed. Clearly, something that someone desired must have value, ergo it should still be valuable to me, ergo I can’t sell it (see Yard Sale 3).

The size of the crowd that will arrive early at your yard sale.
The size of the crowd that will arrive early at your yard sale.
Yard Sale 2

We were encouraged by the enormous revenue we’d earned in Yard Sale 1 ($225). Also, I instantly forgot about the misery of the morning, sort of how mothers forget the pain of childbirth, which is the sole reason that anyone has siblings.

Also, we still had all kinds of, you know, STUFF TO SELL, stuff that was still in the attic/garage/kitchen/bedrooms… this is great! Let’s have another yard sale! It’s not the primo merchandise that we put out for Yard Sale 1, but it’s pretty close. Let’s do it!

We followed the same tips as we did in Yard Sale 1, and added a few more. You’re welcome:

Four Little-Known Yard Sale Tips
  1. Be dressed and caffeinated at least two hours prior to the announced start time of the Yard Sale. You can issue death threats to early birds in your yard sale ad, and it will make no difference whatsoever. People will show up two hours early.
  2. Watch for thieves. I am not kidding. The number of people who will STEAL FROM A YARD SALE is depressing. I’m pretty sure someone tried to steal one of our display tables.
  3. Whatever you think an item is worth, it’s not. I can’t stress this enough. You are not going to make a life-changing amount of money at your yard sale. If you’re lucky, you’ll make enough to pay for one therapy session for the family member most in need of it after the yard sale. This is likely to be Mom. Plus, because you wouldn’t come down on price, you’re now stuck hauling everything back inside while Mom’s at emergency therapy.
  4. The Yard Sale 2 proceeds will be about 20% of Yard Sale 1.
Yard Sale 3

After Yard Sale 2, we thought we’d unloaded sold just about everything that wasn’t making the move with us. About a week before Moving Day, we did one last sweep of the house, the attic, and the garage, just to be sure.

It was then that, I swear, our house just started projectile vomiting from every orifice. It was as if every inanimate object in that house was breeding; the house had turned itself into an evil, living, breathing hoarder while we slept. By the time we finally, finally, finally finished the real “clean sweep,” we had enough for – you guessed it! A third yard sale.

The one bright spot was that by then, even the kids were afraid of the stuff that was still in the house. They meekly agreed to sell the priceless possessions that they’d run back inside with during Yard Sale 1, because by now, even those beloved items were breeding. And guess what, kids? Maybe you really can’t sell it! Not because you want to keep it, but because no one wants to pay for it. In case you haven’t noticed, our country is absolutely drowning in stuff. Stuff we got on sale. Stuff we paid too much for. Stuff we just had to have and never used. Not only that, but a lot of us have exactly the same stuff. I think we collected $10 at Yard Sale 3. This is Economics 101: given a virtually unlimited supply of stuff, how much do you think it’s worth? If you guessed “nothing,” you’d be right.

By the way – if you have stuff like this, then by all means, please have a yard sale, and invite me!




The Day Before Moving Day

Zero Hour had arrived. The house absolutely, positively had to be empty by morning; the Yard Sale 1, 2 and 3 rejects were dragged to the curb. I’m pretty sure that there was more stuff on the curb than we’d sold at all three yard sales combined. In hindsight, we should have started out with a “Curb Alert!” ad on Craigslist. Here’s what it would have said: “Curb alert! Everything is free! Come whenever you want – you will anyway.” ⧉

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2 thoughts on “Holding a Yard Sale – just don’t”

  1. Guilty of having yard sales, but never again!! One questionable woman wanted to try on clothes in my laundry room, and for whatever reason I agreed. (Yeah, I know.) She was in there forever, smoking cigarettes in there while doing it, then came out and went back again and again. She stayed for nearly 2 hours and she began to talk about her recently ended relationship and how she had contracted an STD during that time (scaring off “customers” in the process). Then she didn’t buy any of the clothes she tried on…. Those clothes being about 10 pairs of jeans and 5 skirts, which I promptly threw away…while wearing gloves…..?

    1. Thanks for reading, and for the comment! Perhaps we should add a few more “tips” to this piece 😉 – Coach Dawne

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