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Dawn’s Column - Yard Sale Tale

POSTED August 10, 2010 6:52 p.m.

My husband and I recently held a gargantuan, one-day yard sale. Due to our union, we had double, and in some cases, triple, of everything required to furnish a home. We had filled the shelves of the garage with boxes of items just for the yard sale, knowing that it wasn’t even everything we needed to put out because we hadn’t had time to address it all.

In preparing for the event, I began to look around the garage, taking in how truly stacked and stocked it was with yard sale stuff. It was overwhelming and I began to think about how we were actually going to pull it off.

Just how early would we have to rise in the morning to start setting up? How on earth would we be able to man it by ourselves? There was no way we could go it alone and get it all done, so we decided to call for reinforcements — family.

In my yard sale strategy, thinking of how we could get the most traffic and serious shoppers, I told my husband I thought we should “open” at 7 a.m. He gave me this “are-you-crazy?” kind of look — because he knows I’m not a morning person. I ignored the look; this was business. I also knew that the truly serious yard-salers would show up well before then, especially if the garage was open and we were setting stuff out on the driveway.

This is probably where I should explain that my husband really hates yard sales. He’s not into attending them, so he doesn’t, and he abhors hosting them. The way he sees it, he does “battle” all week long making sales deals and for him to have to do battle with someone over, literally, nickels and dimes for a sale is just ridiculous.

He believes that if you have something at a “fair price” then that person should just pay it without haggling. This always makes me laugh — which is probably not a good response because he’s totally serious.

He complains that if you have something priced for a dollar, they want to give you 50 cents. If you have it priced at 50 cents, they want to give you 25. He’s very impatient with this mindset, it makes his blood pressure rise.

I try to explain to him that people like to feel like they’re getting a deal. He counters with statements like, “They are getting a deal. They can’t go out and buy that widget anywhere near that price!” While I contend that he’s right, people like to negotiate, you know, like they’re “The Donald” (as in Trump) of yard sales. Once again, he circles back around to the fair price argument.

Before putting the ad in the paper, I informed him that as soon as we open the garage door, people are going to be walking up wanting to know how much stuff costs while we’re still trying to get it set out, even if we say we don’t want early birds. Knowing his personality, I asked him what he was going to do if that happened. First, he said, they better not show up early. And next, he would to tell them that they’d have to wait. I laughed again, but he was totally serious. I told him that he was not to turn away any customers, especially the early ones because they’re the serious shoppers and we want the sale.

Because of his “fair price” mentality, my husband always wants to price things in the yard sale way too high. He says it’s still way less than retail. He and I actually had an argument in the garage the night before about how much we were going to charge for certain items. The most memorable part of this argument was what the cost was going to be for this one large, black suitcase. He wanted to charge $10.

“Nobody pays $10 for a suitcase at a yard sale,” I scoffed. “It needs to be $3. I know, because I’ve tried to sell suitcases in yard sales before and nobody ever wants to buy one.”

He was shaking his head at me.

“THREE DOLLARS! That’s all you’re gonna get, if you can even get it,” I told him.

Then he had something to prove and told me to “watch” because he was going to sell that suitcase for $10. He was very sure of himself. Well, I was too and while he may be a good salesman, no one’s going to pay that kind of money at a yard sale for a suitcase.

With our “just married” yard sale ad placed in the newspaper, clearly stating “no early birds,” they showed up early anyway. It was just the way I said it would be — as soon as we opened the garage door.

Of course, this raised my husband’s ire. Well before 7 a.m., as I was putting finishing touches on a big French toast breakfast for our family members, he came in from the garage and informed me that people were there already. He said they were waiting in their cars when he opened the garage and he sold some stuff.

We were so busy, even with a total of five people manning our yard sale, that it was probably nearly two hours into it before we got it all set out. We had a small lull around 10 a.m. and remembered that we hadn’t put out our two neon-colored yard sale signs on the street corners. So my guy grabbed the signs and went to post them. Then the people arrived en masse, we were totally overwhelmed trying to keep track of all our different areas and items. My husband later reported that as he was putting out the signs, people were driving slowly by and looking so he pointed the way and all these cars just kept turning down the street.

We sold a whole bunch of stuff, but still had a lot left over. At least we have half of our garage shelf space empty now. We expected that we’d have items unsold and plan to hold another yard sale in the fall, which will have a lot more stuff added to it by then.

But wouldn’t you know, of all things, he sold that #@*! suitcase.

And he sold it for $10.

 

Dawn M. Henley is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at dhenley@oakdaleleader.com or by calling 847-3021.

 

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