Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Little Rant About Yard Sales

You know when a household prices their stuff and sets it in their garage/yard/porch to sell?  I've decided that it's not worth my time to browse their stuff.

playing sushi restaurant - the Fisher Price house is the cash register

Because here's the thing:  their style might not be my style, so even if they have a mirror for sale and I'm in the market for a mirror, chances are that it's not the mirror I had in mind, but I will buy it anyway because they are watching me

There's no way to window-shop discreetly at a yard sale.  When you pull the car over or step onto the porch, you've declared your intent.  To leave without buying anything feels insulting - I can do it, yes, but I feel bad in a way I don't feel in a thrift store where the people who donated the stuff are not sitting there pretending not to watch me.

I've also tried to throw my own sale and make a lot of money which I've heard can be done.  Well.  It didn't work for me, and it was annoying to donate all that junk that I had carefully priced to the thrift store where I should have put it in the first place.  And that's why there is usually a small bag of thrift store donations in my car trunk - I'm not saving them for no yard sale, no how.

This, then, is the story of how I bought 4 cloth napkins I didn't need for a buck at a yard sale down the street on my way home from market on Saturday. 


  1. I agree that yardsales are so much work! I've had 2 in the last 10 years, did not make much money but got rid of lots of stuff.

    I have been to lots of yard sales and don't feel bad in the least if I don't buy something. I just say "thanks for letting me look" and leave.

    Even so, I went to very few sales this summer. I have been doing more decluttering and just like having empty spaces.

  2. Agreed! I also hate-hate-hate negotiating for lower prices. I'd rather pay whatever they have marked.

    And for me, another dealbreaker is unpriced items. I don't want to have to ask about every little thing.

    I like thrift stores better, too—for donating and for buying.

  3. A fine story. Excellent logic.

    (A sushi yard sale, you mean?)

    (And what you did need was the buck, right?)

  4. Shirley, the pictures of the kids are only slightly related to the yard sale rant.

    And thanks for the tip about my out-of-place phrase - I fixed it.

  5. This is funny.

    I guess I'm not as thoughtful/sensitive as you because I have no trouble whipping my car to a screeching halt, stomping across someone's yard, rifling through their junk, and then burning rubber on my way out.

    But I get your point.

  6. Bahaha! Hilarious! I have those exact same feelings. But I go anyway. You can find such good deals sometimes! That's the thing that keeps me going back. That and super cheap kids' clothes.

  7. Ah, I guess you are just a shade sweeter or more polite than I am. I keep looking (because I know I'll find everything I want used eventually if I keep looking) and just walk off empty handed if I don't find what I want. I can't resist the possibility that the wooden spoon I need to replace the one I have that has a chunk missing from it will be there for a dime or something. But I honestly can't remember feeling bad about leaving without buying. Hmmm...is this a sign of my character?! Perhaps the fifference is that you've hosted a garage sale and so know how it feels.

    I'd never in a million years host one having seen all the work that goes into it via my family members. Its seems so crazy I've never even tried. Nothing I have is all that valuable that I need to "get my money back" on it so I just send it off to the thrift shop without a second thought.

    But I am rarely home on the weekends during garage sale season so I get to spend more time at the second hand shop than at the garage sales.

  8. I feel your pain :) I'm the same way, and I no longer go to yard sales.

    And every time I hold a yard sale I think it will be the last one for sure, but after a few years go by, I'm ready to inflict one on myself again! Lesson not yet learned.

  9. You crack me up! :D

    If I stop at a yard sale... 9 times out of 10 there is nothing I want... I smile sweetly :~ and say, "Well, I don't see anything I can't live without" and then leave.

    But I DO find loads of great stuff at the thrift stores.

    I had a yard sale once. The newspaper forgot to place my ad. Enough said. :( Never again.

    However, there are those who manage to make a lot of money doing it.

  10. Did I ever tell you about our N. Carolina yard sale? Where we sold a car for $100 and a plastic trash can with a hole in it for $1?

    I think it was a function of the 90s. Even the yard sales were crazy back then.

  11. You have me laughing! I don't do yard sales either, not because I feel obligated to buy, but in my area of the country there aren't many yard sales and when there is one, people charge crazy prices. I'm not going to pay 95% of the original purchase price for your ten year old sofa with the mystery spots on it. I could get stuff less expensively at a store with a sale than I can at a yard sale.

  12. Ha ha!!! I put on a yard sale a few years ago. Never again. I made $80 and didn't get enough sleep and my husband spent about $20 buying doughnuts and coffee for his/our family members who were there that morning (it was a family affair)....and we'd had to store the junk for weeks on end leading up to the sale and then transport it to the place where we had the sale...and then send most of it to charity anyhow...yeah. So Not Worth It.

    But I am not as nice as you! It is nothing for me to stop at a yard sale, peruse the stuff, and then smile sweet as pie at the owner and say "thank you!!! have a great day!!" very brightly. And then I'm outta there. I do that a lot. It's just business, after all!!! And hey, it's stuff THEY don't want....so it's not like everyone else might be clamoring for it!

  13. Reading this post makes me grateful that my husband has repeatedly discouraged me from having a yard sale. Too much work for not enough $$$.

  14. Don't bother with yard sales. The average yard sale customer has maybe a few dollars in his pocket, and that is all.

    Instead, you can sell your items on craigslist (its free to list them). There are also facebook sites where you can list your more valuable items for sale. You can also sell them to individual dealers. I have a dealer who buys china, a dealer who buys crystal, a dealer who buys linens, and dealers for antiques. They won't give you tons of money, but they WILL give you more than a garage sale customer would!

    I don't have garage sales anymore because I don't want to support riff raff who come around the neighborhood, and many of them these days want free stuff. They actually have the GALL to ask me if they can just have it. I am more than willing to keep my things, if they don't sell.

    I also have a few favorite charities I donate them to. You don't have to take your stuff to Goodwill. If you have specific charity, you can choose that instead. I like donating my stuff for Kidney Cancer and also an organization that works to find homes for stray animals.

    But whatever you do, don't give your stuff to a yard sale customer who drives up in a truck and says he will donate it to a charity for you. In all likelihood, he wants to try and sell it all himself.


I enjoy the conversation in the comments - thank you for that. I will answer your questions here in the comments. Please note that I don't want the world wide web to know my family's surnames and location.