This past weekend, my wife and I participated in a church yard sale. By “my wife and I”, I mostly mean my wife as she ran the show.
I usually have strong feelings about everything. It’s just in my nature to lean towards everything being either black or white. I know there’s lots of gray. I’m trying to get more comfortable with that as I get older, but it just isn’t natural to me.
Yard sales baffle me. They are one of the few things that I’m wishy-washy about.
Here are some thoughts about each side of the coin… I’ll leave it to you to determine the context on how I feel about each item.
As a Yard Sale Seller
- So Much Work – There’s a reason why my wife runs the show at yard sales. It’s a lot of work… and I’m so very Lazy. That said, I was up an hour early making coffee and doing other household chores to help make the yard sale work.
- So Little Money – A couple of years ago, my wife sold a ton of baby stuff at “high ticket” prices. It netted around $200. After the $25 table buy-in, we (she) made about $30. I won’t even look up what a per-diem pharmacist could get with a single hour of work… that would depress me.
- No More “Stuff” – Kids grow and the old stuff needs to be replaced with new stuff. This includes books, toys, and clothes. We’ve accumulated so much of all it. I’m guilty for some of the toys, because I have zero impulse control on anything with “STEM” in it. Toys aren’t terrible… I can see how a new toy lights up the mind of my kids. It could be quite possibly the best feeling I can think of.
- Recycling – I hate seeing anything thrown into a landfill. Kid stuff should last through multiple kids. They grow so fast (at least through age 5) that clothes are still good.
- Bargaining – One person said that she bought clothes at $0.25 a piece at the last yard sale she was at. I wish I was quick enough to say, “It’s a $25 buy-in to a very good charity. So you are asking us to sell 100 pieces of clothes to just break even with our time here?
As a Yard Sale Buyer
- Bargaining – I respect game. The person above had game. I think it’s best to take the game elsewhere. You are getting things for pennies on the dollar. I never bargain. Please don’t bargain at yard sales unless you know an item is overpriced.
- Treasure Hunt – I love a modern-day treasure hunt, without the work of “hunting.” I went to see what other people were selling. I found a General Hospital board game from the early 80s for $4. It seemed like it could be worth more, but more importantly, my wife thought that she could use it for a possible social connection in her past. I didn’t think about money because those social connections are priceless.
I also bought a 260-piece Harry Potter puzzle for 25 cents. It says “8+” on it, which would turn-off my kids (age 5 and 6) normally. However, I pointed out that they are 11 combined, so they can work together and do it. The next day my oldest said, “Since I’m 6 and a half, and my brother is 5 and half, it’s like we’re 12.”
Perhaps the best 25 cents ever spent?
Another person at the yard sale spend about 15 minutes negotiating about the prices. He ended up buying about a quarter of our stuff. After the negotiattion, he pulled out a stack of $100 bills. He didn’t have change. This exploded my mind.
If you have a way to put my mind back together (or have other yard sale thoughts), let me know in the comments.
I abhor yard sales. You are essentially giving your stuff away to ungrateful sods who want to pay you even less. I’d rather do almost anything else!
Nowadays we simply box up what we don’t need and donate it to the nearest community or charity shop. Hopefully someone benefits, and I don’t need the money that badly.
We had a lot of garage sales when we were younger and the kids were younger. We would usually go together with another family or two, and would net $200+ each. It was a lot of work, but we’d include the kids, they’d make a little money, have donuts and pizza, and it was fun enough. Now we give stuff away.
However, at least in Texas, they serve a vital purpose. For a lot of people it is how they cloth their kids and themselves. Yes, there are the players, but most are just honest people trying to get along. They are not taking a handout, the are doing commerce in the free market of second hand items. My father grew up during the depression, and even long after he was financially secure he was still drawn to buy stuff as cheaply as possible, which included garage sales.
I rarely see yard sales anymore. They used to be everywhere when I was a kid. Most people sell their old stuff online now. There is a local Facebook group that you can give and receive free stuff. This works very well for us when we want to get rid of stuff that we can’t sell.
Oh, we saw a yard sale on the way to lunch last Saturday. RB40Jr picked up a little star destroyer (metal earth) for 25 cents. Pretty cool.
Lazy Man says
Yeah, they are great for kids. It’s good to recycle a bit of happiness.
Caroline at Costa Rica FIRE says
I love yard sales, but I also love large flea markets, antique stores, consignment shops…You can see I love the treasure hunt. I used to sell when my neighborhood had a group sale, but once that shared structure was gone, I didn’t have the motivation to sell just myself. It definitely isn’t a money-maker on the sales side, and it’s not necessarily a deal on the buy side (b/c too many people end up buying stuff they don’t need). But it can be fun, and it’s an activity I can do with my elderly mom that gives us some bonding time and exercise!
Abigail @ipickuppennies says
Yep yard sales are a mixed bag. I don’t go to many anymore because a) I don’t need anything and don’t want to collect too much stuff and b) everything is so stretched out in Phoenix that you spend a fair amount in gas cruising for sales. But mainly it’s the first thing. I’d rather go to a thrift store. True the prices aren’t as good, but I know there’ll be a wider selection and no one watching me hopeful for a sale.