Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Get Rid Of That Junk In Your Trunk!

No, this is not a post about dieting or exercising. Rather this is my own contribution to the garage/yard/church bizarre sale world and all those who dare to enter it's sometimes musty smelling atmosphere.

Every year, our neighborhood hosts a HUGE multi-family yard sale. For a measly 5 bucks, a group of mysterious neighborhood women folk will put up 1.2 million posters throughout the area, place ads in the local papers and deliver balloons and maps to each participants house in the cover of darkness. No one has ever seen this bevy of bargainers, but I'm convinced that they exist....simply because of the balloons appearing the morning of the sale.

This extravaganza is not for the weak of heart! People start trolling the streets around 7:00 a.m. clearly ignoring the 9:00 start time. Plus, some of these early birds have the audacity to be irritated if you're not ready to receive them and their fresh from the bank dollar bills. Parking becomes impossible and quite laughable when people literally park in the middle of the street to jump out and check someone's table o'crap.

This will be our third time participating. I invited Christina from the Crafty P to join in our drawn out misery but strangely she declined my prime driveway spot. Actually, she is going to sell her wares at a different venue and asked if I had any helpful hints.

I don't know if they're helpful, but here goes!

Be prepared! Have extra stickers, markers, scissors, plastic bags, newspaper (Who has time to read? To wrap delicate things in, Silly), water and snacks (be sure to hide the water and snacks or else you'll be holding a lousy quarter and have cotton mouth all day)...oh, and don't forget a money box or super cool fanny pack, and change. God forbid you don't have change for a dollar.

What's your goal? Is it to make money or get rid of stuff? You need to know which it is to price accordingly. And remember, this is probably the wrong place to try to sell your "priceless" antiques and valuables. You'll only end up insulted and tired after dragging your stuff back home because someone was outraged that you rejected their $10 offer on a $100 piece of furniture. People want to be able to use the money in their pockets and not blow it all at one yard.

Know ahead of time if you'll be willing to negotiate. These bargain hunters can smell your fear and uncertainty and will attack viciously. I like the plan that goes like this...if you have something that you'd be willing to part with for $5, mark it for $10. Either someone will pay the asking price which is pure bonus for you or they'll make you a counter offer to which you should then arch your back and suck your teeth as if you just got punched to make it seem like they're really robbing you blind. They think they got a great deal, but victory is yours. Stand your ground, too! Inevitably, someone will approach you with an armload of stuff worth $10 and offer you something ridiculous, like .50 and a stick of gum. Get outta here! Be firm and say something like, "$9 is as low as I can go for all that stuff, Pal...and don't think I didn't see you put that My Little Pony in your pocket, either!"

You could put a price sticker on each individual item...but I think I'm going to do it differently this year. I'm going to section off my tables and mark each section with a price. Then, I'll put a colored sticker on each$1, yellow=$2, etc. I, also, like to bundle items...4 books for $1, $5 for a bag of baby clothes, etc.

Make sure all your items are clean and in working condition. I have learned from personal experience that you should, if at all possible, try to have an extension cord at the ready to prove to these ruthless shoppers that the clock on your $2 coffee maker works. Also, make a little sign for an item if (non-essential) parts are missing. If essential parts are missing, may I introduce you to your garbage can?

Some sellers, in addition to selling their wedding gifts that they clearly did not register for, clothes from the "fat years" , and things from the grandparents basement that they thought were cool at the time, may want to sell specialty items like baked goods, hand painted things, baby blankets???? For these items, I would make a clear sign stating the asking price and put something on the sign like "final price" to warn folks not to try to negotiate. Since everyone likes a deal, though, you could add something like 1 for $10 or 2 for $18.

Be prepared for people who may not think as logically as's an example. I was selling a dining room table and 6 chairs for $100. A very nice woman started wheeling and dealing with my father-in-law, which was her first mistake. She said that she didn't want the table, just the chairs. My FIL told her that the chairs were $20 a piece....and she agreed to it! Feeling badly, I tried to explain to her that she was being swindled, but she would hear nothing of it! $20/chair was what she was willing to pay! So, she left with my chairs and I kept her $120. The FIL was very proud....

Finally, if you were willing to sell it, be willing to either pitch it or donate it if it's still around at the end of the day. Don't take anything back into your house at the end of the day. If people didn't want your crap this year,they're not going to want it next year.

Now, go forth and sell junk.


Courtney said...

Thanks for the tips Rachel. I just went to a neighborhood wide garage sale this some great stuff, but a few of the people could have used your knowledge/tough love. I mean who buys used nail polish? Seriously.

I bummed we can't come to your sale this year! I should unload some of my old junk to make room for more! If I find some stuff- maybe I'll drop off for you to sell? We can work out a commission for your efforts! :)

Crafty P said...

stellar post, my dear friend. stellar. Happy and I flea marketed today and it was dreadful (the market, not the company). I learned some lessons. I'll let you know if I have any more questions....

Michelle said...

I enjoyed your post and was inspired by your advice! Perhaps you may have some room at your table for some valuables that I know can be be rounded up from Martin's manor!!!.... I know that this is some prime real estate for garage sales & I understand if you don't! Let me know if you'd like the company, I know that I have plenty that would make my day to part with!!!!!

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