Monday, May 23, 2011

Crazy For Sale

This past weekend I joined forces with a group of friends for our annual yard sale (because nothing draws a crowd like a "multi-family sale"). The yard sale is always one of my favorite events, not only because I'm earning money for ridding my house of stuff we don't need, but also because of the total lunacy that usually surrounds any yard sale. And this year did not disappoint.

For some background, I should share that we held the sale at the home of my friends Mat and Marbree, who last year bought their house with the previous owner's contents in an estate sale. Last summer, their yard sale was the most unbelievable one ever, because nearly the entire house was open to the public, and nearly everything was for sale. Though this was not the situation again this year, I think their house still carries a reputation among some in our town for being the place to be for this sort of event.

We had some rain, we had some huffy customers, and we had somewhat of a challenge displaying and keeping track of eight different families' things, but in the end I'd say fun was had by all (plus we made a boatload of money). Here are some of my favorite stories about this year's event:

-Fending off the early birds
We planned to have the sale Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, so Marbree ran an ad in the paper and posted signs around the neighborhood on Thursday. Friday morning we all got together to finish setting up, and already there were cars lurking around the house, driving back and forth and around the block. We made a giant sign (easily 3x4-foot) that said:

Yard Sale is 4-7 Friday
8-2 Saturday
Early birds pay double
Exact change required

The text on this sign was bordered with florescent pink spray paint, and the thing was taped to a trash can blocking the end of the driveway. Despite this fact, most of the people from the steady stream of foot traffic seemed very surprised to hear that we were not yet open. Somebody criticized us for not having everything organized and clearly labeled. And over and over I heard people say, "Oh, I saw the sign back there; I just didn't read it." Wow. All I can say is "wow."

By the time we did actually open for business, there was a sizable crowd of people waiting on the driveway to get in. Mat stood guard outside while Marbree passed out money aprons, notepads, and change to the rest of us. I could hear Mat saying things like, "I will talk to you about the price of that item at 4:00." Really, it was enough to make me wish I could be outside looking in just for the comedic value of poor Mat's situation.

So apparently the ad in the paper was very... effective, because at the opening there were a number of people interested in some of the large items that had been individually listed. In particular, one of the first women through the door started negotiating with me right away regarding the price of a stroller I was selling out on the driveway. We agreed on a price, and I started working my way out of the garage to set it aside for her while she continued to look.

When I arrived outside, the stroller was being clutched by another woman who wanted to know the price. When I told her that it was already sold, she demanded, "Did they already give you the money? Because if you don't have the money in your hand it isn't a sale!" I tried explaining to her that I had already negotiated a price and made a verbal agreement with this other person, and she cut me off to say that she would give me full price right there if I would just give it to her. Meanwhile, this woman's father(?) started moving toward me, waving money and hollering about how if I had any business sense I would know that you sell it to the person with the money, and that if I knew anything about having a sale I would give it to them right now.

I agreed to go back into the garage to see if the original buyer would be interested in giving it up. When I found her, I told her that there was another buyer who really wanted the stroller, and was willing to pay full price for it. She looked up and loudly yelled,"But YOU TOLD ME I could have it for $25! That's the price, and I'M getting it!" Ooohh-kay.

So, back to the driveway to tell buyer #2 that it's definitely been sold, where she and her father continued yelling things like, "But we're giving you full-price!" and "But you still don't have her money!" Hilariously, my friend Jennifer took this opportunity to stick her head in and joke that I might break my word with the original buyer for an additional $5 over the original asking price. Dirty looks from everyone involved...

In the end I had to use my Mommy voice, make direct eye contact, and say, "I'm sorry. It's been sold." And with only one more admonishment from the father they turned on their heels and left. After that start I was worried about the rest of the weekend, but really that was the worst part, and I got it over with right away. Most other people barely negotiated at all.

-The things people will buy
In packing up for the sale, I realized that Daniel owned 30 pairs of underwear. Judging this to be ridiculous for a family that usually does laundry once a week, I slipped 15 or so of them into a bag for bulk sale. Thursday night, as I priced things while watching television, Kyle noticed the bag-o-underwear and expressed his skepticism that anyone would buy USED underwear. Oh, but I knew they would sell. And what a satisfied smile I had on my face Saturday morning, as I collected that dollar, because after all being right is worth a little extra.

Really, though, I have never seen anyone who can sell junk like our friend Mat. Last year when they sold the unwanted contents of that estate purchase it was like watching a thing of beauty. Half-empty can of WD-40? Fifty cents. Old coffee can full of rusty screws? Seventy five cents. This year I collected payment from a man with a repurposed peanut butter jar full of nails marked $1.25. "He said he'd take $1 for that!" the buyer informed me. I'll bet he will. I saw another man buy a roll of flashing left over from some project Mat or someone in his extended family had done. "I don't even have anything to use this for," the man said as he dug into his pocket, "but it's a good price, and you never know when it might come in handy." Yep, like when you'd like to make some money in a yard sale.

Funny stories aside, though, I think we all came out pretty well. I was glad to see Marbree and Mat sold the most, because I'm pretty sure it took lots of time on their part to get their garage ready, organize the stuff, and keep track of all the money. For me, it was definitely worth my time. We made enough for everyone to pick out a prize, and let's just say that because of Kyle's pick Wii have all been playing Mario Kart this weekend (he does not endorse this pun, by the way).

Until next year!

1 comment:

  1. I am so sad that I missed the big event! And next year we're moving, so I'm in in a big way. And that is hilarious, both about the stroller and people not reading the sign. I hope I am properly ashamed of myself if I EVER act in a way that makes a mother use her mom voice with me!