First, let me just say, I love yard sales. I live in an area where there are many upscale communities and every weekend the yard sale section of our newspaper is filled with ads. You would not believe the things I have bought for next to nothing. So it killed me to have my own yard sale on one of the last good days in October, when yard sales are at their peak. Everyone is trying to take advantage of the final few warm weekends before November and the crowds dwindle.
For the past two years I have been saying that I was going to have a yard sale. The unfinished part of my basement has been my holding area for the boxes and bags of things I have wanted to get rid of for probably the last three years. The space is overflowing with clothes, flower arrangements, Barbie’s, large plastic toys, scooters, bikes and various other cast-off. Literally, I had to a clear path to my treadmill, and believe me, I will use any excuse not to exercise. So the stuff had to go.
When we finally were able to agree on a date, which was not easy given my families various schedules, I put the ad in the paper. So, no backing out now, it was definitely going to happen. I forgot just how much hard work goes into preparing for a yard sale. The hours it takes to go through your house and decide what goes, what stays, what gets donated or gets thrown away.
I like to have most of the item set up on tables the night before. This way I can just open my garage door and I am ready to go. The early birds, people who show up before the time the sale is supposed to start, get the best stuff. If you are a “hard core” yard sale shopper, this is a very competitive sport. The early birds do tend to get the best things.
The last yard sale I had I made $240. Not bad. So my goal was to top that. I was also going to try a new pricing strategy, mostly because I was too tired and lazy to price every single item. My idea was to have a real blow-out sale. Price everything really cheaply. Go for volume. The strategy paid off. We made over $400! Crazy, right, cash for my trash. Some people do not like to have yard sales. They do not want to do the work or deal with the people. But I’ll tell you, I really enjoyed it.
The benefits I got from having the sale goes further than the money we made. I finally met one of my neighbors who has lived across the street from me for two years. Another neighbor, who lives further up the my street, who I knew just on a casual basis, I found shares my passion for fixing up and restoring old furniture. While buying Bratz and Polly pocket dolls for her girls, we struck up a conversion about yard sales, she also trash picks, come on now, don’t judge. She has gotten some great pieces that way. We bonded over stories we each had of finding some amazing pieces at ridiculously low prices. For example, I bought a Fairfield office chair, in great condition, for $20. They retail new for between $800 to $900 dollars.
I brought her into my house and showed her one of my favorite finds. Two antique cabinets, with ornate spindle legs, with fabulous details in the cabinet doors, one had a Birdseye maple inlay that was absolutely gorgeous. You can’t buy this kind of furniture any more. The craftsmanship was excellent. The story the owner told me was that they had been shipped to America, in the 1900’s, from Germany, by his grandmother. He did not have room for them and would sell them to me for $30 each. How could I say no? One piece I painted Marine Blue using chalk paint and the other I refurnished to its original condition. After examining them she told me they would each sell for at least $150.
I told her I was still looking for door knob for the Marine blue cabinet. She said she had already been to another sale that day and came across a women selling vintage crystal and brass door pulls. I agonized over not being able to go to the sale myself and see them. Strangely enough, I did end up with those drawer pulls. The woman who bought them at that yard sale bought the lot of them. Then, when she came to my yard sale, she saw the furniture I was refinishing and told me that she had just bought the door pulls. My eyes must have lit up because she told me she would sell me some. I bought eight of the most beautiful antique crystal and brass door pulls, that I will get to use on some future project.
Later on, my neighbor from up the street pulled up and the end of my driveway. She asked me if I wanted to look at a piece of furniture she had just bought for $33, a beautiful antique, chest of drawers, in need of some love. When she bought it home and her husband had a fit. Their three car garage was now a one car garage due to her accumulation of projects and they did not have any more room for it.. Did I want it? Are you kidding? Of course I did. I paid her with the money I made from my garage sale and she drove the piece to my house. My husband said playfully, “You are buying things, from the people who are buying things, from us, at our yard sale?” He just shook his head.
What really surprised me just how much I truly enjoyed meeting the people who came to shop and hearing their stories. As a writer and a stay-at-home mom, I really have not had much time to concentrate on making, or even finding new friends. How lucky I was that these wonderful women came to me. So, I find it somewhat ironic, that while I set out just to make some money and unclutter my house, what I ended up doing was something much more valuable, making some great new friends.