Just some thoughts on my personal life- shabby cottage/chic decor, thrifting/junking, dogs with smushed-in faces, and pretty much anything else...

Monday, May 31, 2010

Garage Sale Lessons

In honor of my new blog idol "Jessica" author of the brilliantly written  "i-quit" I would like to use today's blog entry to compile a list of what I've learned from hosting a garage sale.:

1. If you find yourself with more than a garden shed's worth of things to sell you will need more than a week to price it all. Even with the help of your mother and attenion-span-of-a-five-year-old fiance (I mostly just used him for his muscle and to bring me food when I was hungry).

2. Buy the pre-printed price stickers. I did not know of their existence until I had used masking tape and sharpies to price all of my items. I guestimate this lack of knowledge cost me at least two hours.

3. It is true what they say: one mans trash is another mans treasure (and they will pay more than you would think to own that trash/treasure). Case in point: My fiance had a GT Vertigo bike left over from his childhood days of wannabe trick bike riding (priced at $45-no this is not too much to ask as you will soon see). A rather large man (we're talking 5'8"ish 300lbs), most likely in his early thirties, drove past our house looking over his shoulder out of the rear sliding window of his pickup truck sizing up our goods. He made it all the way to the stop sign (maybe 50 feet from our driveway) before deciding there was something here worth stopping for. He threw his truck in reverse, parked, and he and his friend all but ran up our driveway. I jokingly asked if he was here to buy all of our furniture (which we had a lot of). He meekly shook his head and beelined for the GT. He checked the price sticker, "Hmmm. $45?". Puhlease. The look on your face told me all I needed to know about your struggle to contain your excitement over this discovery. He then proceeded to pull out a hundred dollar bill and asked if I could change it out. (This is when I began my mental kicking-myself-in-the-rear for not putting a higher price on that stupid bike and letting people dicker it down.) Of course I could change out the hundo (don't worry I checked all the security features). At this point I thought this guy was buying it for his kid. Oh no. I handed him his change and he got on the bike and gleefully (yes giddy smile and giggles ensued) pedaled down my driveway to his truck.

Side note: Later that day some friends stopped by to scope out the loot. As they were driving home they saw this giant man on his new (old) GT trick bike racing along the sidewalks of our city's downtown area.

Lesson learned: With items such as this do not be afraid to price things a little higher and allow people to negotiate with you. The child trapped in the giant mans body described above would have quite possibly given me that hundred dollar bill for that bike.

4.Do not consider yourself above stealing the sign stakes of others. Some poor bastard thought that a styrofoam sign would hold its own in the frequent windy moments of our lakeside community. Wrong. That flimsy thing didn't stand a chance. If your sign is too weak to survive for the duration of your sale its just too bad for you. Survival of the fittest. Yes we stole a rather sweet sturdy wooden stake for one of our signs. (It should be noted that we did not bother moving it to a different location, we left it in the exact spot those other people put it in and taped our sign to it. The remnants of their dead sign were laying nearby.)

5.Sheet sets can be priced high (we're talking $5+ here) if they are strategically folded and taped together so that no rips or stains are visible. Most people are too nice to rip the tape off and unfold your nice pretty fold job. (However, this doesn't seem to apply to clothes.)

6.Watch the weather carefully and have an emergency plan in place. When the rain starts to fall at an increasingly alarming rate it can be difficult to move heavy pieces of furniture in a timely manner without a previously discussed strategy. Especially if you have five or more of said pieces.

7.Be ready to meet every neighbor within a six block radius. Especially if you are relatively new to the neighborhood. Don't get me wrong, this is a great opportunity. But remember that first impressions are almost always everything so yes you have to make an effort at your appearance on these garage sale days. Do your makeup, comb your hair, and keep deodorant handy. And ask questions about the neighborhood or the history of your house/previous owners. They love when you show interest like this.

Bonus observation: If you make this first impression a positive one, they will buy something. A reward for your passing of their new-neighbor test (she takes care of herself, doesn't smell like BO, and shows an interest in our neighborhood I should buy this item for a quarter.)

8.Think like a salesperson. But if that seemingly poor man walks up (a little stinky, missing teeth, best plumbers crack ever!) do your deed for the day and take a $10 hit on that box of dishes. Chances are if he's turning his pockets inside out and handing you all the money he has on him, it's probably all the money he  has at all. And take a minute to have a little convo with him. You're probably the only person that's willingly talked like that with him in a while. The human soul needs other human contact, don't be a dick.

9.Build rapport. Greet every single person that walks up, and thank every single person for stopping whether they buy something or not. They are more likely to remember you this way and will maybe even tell someone else about you. {We stopped at this one on such and such a street, I think you'd really like the ______ (fill in the blank) that they had.}
Plus I'm still convinced that some of them were the super-secret-spy neighbor type. You never know who's strictly there to size you up.

10.You will be busy for the duration of your sale. Whether it's a one day sale or a weekend long event, you will be devoting nine hours a day to this thing, plan accordingly. I am not good at math so between my night shift, a wedding, and the garage sale I got two hours of sleep one night. After my unfulfilling night of sleep I sat outside at the garage sale for almost ten hours (set up, sale itself, and take down) then worked a twelve hour shift. I am not embellishing this when I say that towards the end of my shift that night I was seeing things. A face in a picture looked at me (yes I know very Stephen King's IT) and bugs were flying all around me (just beyond my periph of course.) 

I could definitely get used to this list business.

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