Some people at my church had a yard sale the other day to help out a family in need. It’s wonderful when a bunch of people rally to help others, no matter how it’s done. Some organize events like races or dinners, while others simply write checks. The motivation is what matters, and theirs was in the right place.
My involvement in this whole project was very minor. I helped coordinate the borrowing of some tables. I recommended to others that donations were welcome. And early that morning, I dropped by for a bit of shopping. I purchased a couple of great items and left a small donation to boot.
It was really best for all involved that I didn’t do any more than that. Here’s how I know this to be the honest-to-goodness solemn truth: I am terrible at yard sales. See also garage sales, tag sales, or estate sales.
The irony is that I just graduated from business college with high honors; yet I couldn’t get rid of my own junk without it costing me. At the time it was not the tiniest bit amusing. Now I can laugh about it. Maybe you will too.
Let’s properly set the stage, shall we?
My husband (now ex) and I, along with the four daughters between us, were living in less a thousand square feet. Many would agree (especially here in the US), that’s not enough room for a family of six. Add to that a man who refuses to part with things. It was time to clean out!
Honestly, I would have just taken it all to the Goodwill a mile away, but I felt like a sale could generate some cash. Maybe we could make a buck or two. The kids got involved, and before I realized what was happening , we were sorting through
treasures junk and making signs.
Then the kids talked me into selling brownies and lemonade. Great idea! Except that I shelled out cash for brownie mix, lemonade supplies, cups, and more signage.
We spent a week sorting, debating, planning and pricing. Then at least an hour putting out signs, hauling all of our
treasures junk outside, and then spent several more hours standing guard.
We were hoping for paying customers that would not barter over a fifty-cent item. Seriously. I’ve already marked this prize down to the lowest respectable amount, and you want a deal? Will I let you have it for a quarter? No, please, just take it. It’s free now. You win.
I managed to sell about $20 worth of stuff. It was mostly me buying brownies that the kids refused to let me eat for free. Then I donated a few of the bigger items to the neighbor across the way, packed the rest into the Isuzu Rodeo, and three trips to Goodwill later, it was finished.
Or so I thought.
The next day hubby began his inquisition.
Him: “What happened to that picture that was leaning up behind the book shelf? You didn’t sell it, did you?”
Me: “Wait, do you mean the ugly framed print that was covered in dust, with no place to be hung?”
Him: “Yes, that one. It had been signed by the artist who was a dear friend of mine who has now passed away. It means a lot to me.”
Oh, great. That detail had not been mentioned AT ALL in the days leading up to the sale, or at any point during the sale in which said picture had been marked at $2 with not a taker all day. (Note: hubby had been home for the several-hour-sale, but chose to not participate. I’m not angry, you’re angry).
It might have been fun to have told him someone bought it. I could have just handed him $2, but that would have been lying, and I try to be an honest person. This precious print was at Goodwill where I had gladly dropped it off. There was such wailing and carrying on when I confessed its whereabouts; the only right thing to do was to try and retrieve it.
Do you know what happens when you try to reclaim a donated item at Goodwill? You get to BUY IT BACK, that’s what. They thought it was worth TEN DOLLARS, which is what I spent the following day. Add to that, the brownie and lemonade supplies and signage, and I actually lost money on the whole
So this is why I don’t hold or even help with yard sales anymore. What did I learn through my yard sale fiasco?
First, no more yard sales.
Second, don’t marry a hoarder.
Third, don’t buy anything I don’t absolutely love.
Fourth, if the kids want an enterprise of their own, they need to self-fund or find another investor.
Finally, stick to what I’m good at, which quite clearly excludes yard sales. Five solid lessons learned. I’ll take it!
Also, I thought y’all needed a break from all the grand-baby posts. There will be more soon enough. But here’s a quick peek to hold you over.
Any yard sale tales you’d like to tell? I’d love to hear from you. It can’t be worse than the one I just shared, or could it?
Thanks for reading, until next time,