Never Again = Pretty Soon

Yard Sale AheadI said, “Never.”

I said it loud and clear. “Never! Never again.”

And, as usual, saying “never” worked as an anti-spell, a charm that ensured quite the opposite of “never.”

This weekend, three short years after a garage-sale-to-end-all-garage-sales and the unequivocal stating of the word “never,” we’re having a garage sale. A big time-sucking garage sale.

So, this whole, entire week, this precious week of my life that I’m never going to have back again, will be turned over to:

  • Putting prices on stuff I’d be happy to give away for free
  • Composing an ad that doesn’t sound like all the other ads and that avoids the words, “something for everyone” and “too much to list”
  • Obsessing about the weather report because, really, who can fit all their accumulated stuff within a mere garage? We need the driveway!
  • Trying to figure out how to thwart early birds, although I know that they cannot be thwarted; it is in their molecular structure to buy before items are formally for sale
  • Lamenting all the garage sales I will miss because I have to tend to my own

Since we, on this Point, live miles out of town and at the far reach of a dead-end road, it can be hard to draw customers to a garage sale here. But, in early August every year, our Point has a community-wide sale and shoppers come in droves. Throngs and droves. Hordes and throngs and droves.

It’s actually quite a sight to behold. That sleepy road that circles the point we live on and the somnolent dead-end road that branches away in one direction—both are packed with cars. The cars move slowly and erratically as people crane their necks to see where the next sale is and whether it looks worthy of a stop. The cars swerve, brake in unexpected places, and park at random.

There are no sidewalks here so the cars share the rural road with bicycles, motorcycles, tricycles, strollers, walkers, joggers, runners, and dogs. Lots of dogs, because dogs think that garage sales are heaven, with intriguing, intoxicating smells and nice people who pet them.

A carnival atmosphere pervades. Tables with garage sale treasures pop up where there are no garages or houses—people seem to cart their stuff in just for the weekend. Shoppers eagerly cart that same stuff home.

A woman down the road sets up a Michigan stand, and sells hundreds of this local delicacy every year. Once you get onto the Point, there’s no place else to eat! Still, her Michigans are so good that we all, even those of us with our own kitchens at hand, go down and eat at her place.

A fortune could be made by someone willing to rent and set up a portable toilet in their yard, to be rented for a small fee . . .

Once the hard work of setup and pricing is done, it’ll be two days of chatting and haggling over prices, comparing notes on other stops down the road, running into people I haven’t seen since high school and pretending to recognize them.

I’ll try to grab a few moments to go with my mom and check out the neighbors’ sales. I’ll leave my husband home to collect the dollar bills and small change we’ll get for our supremely lovely stuff.

It’s only fair that he stays home—this sale was his idea! I had gone on record as saying, “Never again!”

My advice to you? Yes, that’s right—never, never say never.

And what’s your advice for me? Any thoughts on making a garage sale successful? So successful, I’ll NEVER have to have another?

58 thoughts on “Never Again = Pretty Soon

  1. I know, I’ve said “never again” too. And I haven’t. But a neighborhood tag sale like you describe sounds too good to pass up. I wish I could be there! Just remember…”think of it as an adventure!”

    • The neighborhood aspect sealed the deal–customers delivered to us, itching to buy things! A lot of these annual community sales are pretty lame, because people can’t come up with interesting things to sell every year. But I always find great stuff when I shop this particular sale–and I’m going to miss out on shopping this year! But, yes! I will think of it all as an adventure!

  2. We don’t have sales such as you describe. They sound quite fun (for the buyers, not the sellers). Instead we have ‘car boot sales’ where sellers disgorge the contents of their car boots onto a trestle table in the cricket club grounds or somesuch. There ARE bargains to be had, but don’t have the patience, or they eye to spot them. I leave that to a friend of mine. She likes them so much she’s happy to do my shopping for me at these events. i simply give her a list……

    • What a good friend! Now if she would just come here and run my sale for me . . .
      The benefit of a garage sale over a car boot sale might be that we can sell bigger items. I actually have quite a lot of furniture I’d like to find new homes for.

  3. This was hilarious! You led me down the path of “Michigans” when I clicked on your link and read about them… I immediately called my husband, who is at the grocery store, and told him to bring me some hotdogs, etc., etc.,… Many years ago, we had yard sales and after several of them, I said “never again”. I haven’t had one again, and whenever I even mention it, my husband reminds me of what it was like, helping me to come to my senses. 🙂

    • Oh, I hope you like the Michigans! Sometimes I wonder if it’s an acquired taste, only understood by people from this region. My husband was the one who is actually insisting on this sale. He’s right, though, we do have quite a lot of stuff to unload . . . maybe THIS will be the last one ever!

  4. Lol! I do hope it is a lovely day and the sales give you some petty cash to do something special with. My daughter and her sister in law love to have yard sales , they will yard sale together until the closet doors don’t shut anymore than they throw the yard sale. They have things all laid out so nice , and she loves to barter with the customers…Let’s just say she isn’t like me in that. I like to yard sale but Not do one.

    • The weather forecast keeps changing! Right this second, it’s very promising but . . .

      I know I will have fun on the day of the sale–I like seeing people happy when the find something they like. It’s the prep that is so overwhelming. Sigh.

  5. How can you NOT support the community sale???? our neighborhood has an annual sale, the year I could not participate, cos I had fractured my shoulder, the day was perfect, the streets were thronged and I sat at home and sulked.

    • So, you’ll be standing tall this year, ready to sell? Or buy? I’m very good at participating as a buyer; it’s this selling thing that’s getting me down!

  6. What fun!! I’d come if I was just a tad closer! Put on some happy dancey music and [and this is an entirely random idea which has just popped into my head, but which I think is BRILLIANT] hold a random ‘Lucky Shopper Giveaway’ where the person who has bought something in the last hour gets their money back. As Ellen would say: ‘You’re welcome!’ 🙂 Enjoy the day – the week even ………. xo

    • I love your ideas! The music is easy and will add a lot. Sadly, the idea of shopper giveaway is less workable–people will visit our sale for, maybe, 10 minutes, and then rush on to the next one down the road. But you’ve encouraged me to think creatively, to make this more fun!

  7. I think we had 3 garage sales back in our younger days. Our signs said “Garage-a-rama” and “Be there or be square.” I’ll never forget one young guy who looked at me sadly and said, “This really doesn’t qualify as a Garage-a-rama.” I would love to know what the qualifications for that label are!
    But I’m like you – the amount of money I might make is not enough for me to give up a few days of my life to sit there and listen to people try to bargain me down from a quarter to a nickel. Now, I just give anything I don’t want to Salvation Army or Goodwill.
    I still love to go to garage sales though!

    • Garage-a-rama! Ha–I love that! I went to a sale last year that was advertised as a “garage sale of epic proportions”–hard to live up to that billing, too! By motivation for all this is not money at all–we won’t make much. It’s that we have some nice things, pieces of furniture, etc., that I can’t really donate and I just want to find decent homes for. It’s that whole business of being held hostage by sentiment that is still haunting me . . .

  8. I think if I ever do a yard sale, it will be to see the people who are happy with a find. You don’t see that if you take everything to the Goodwill, which is our fallback solution to clutter. And I am pretty sure the money is not worth the time spent.

    • The money is certainly not worth the time! I want to find good homes for some things I really like but no longer have room for and, yes, I LOVE it when someone takes away items they’re really thrilled with.

  9. Regarding your early birds, how about big signs that say all items are $50 (or more depending on your range) before the start time. If they are that desperate then you’ll rake it in! – Jennifer

  10. I’m so with you on the never, never, never have a garage sale. I’m fine with manning a table of other people’s unwanted stuff, but so embarrassed to show the world mine. And such an energy drain when I would rather be weaving. Now if only my family would do the garage sale for me.

    • One benefit of doing a sale in a rural community-wide sale is that I know my stuff is no more embarrassing than the other stuff that’s being sold up and down the road! But, you’re right–I’d rather be weaving . . .

  11. I wish I had a magic carpet and could visit. I think it sounds a brilliant way of getting rid of all your unwanted items and making some money. I have never done it, so I guess it must be more of a pain than I am able to understand. I just love the idea that it will release some cash for you to buy things that you really love.
    Having read the comments of Textile Ranger I am beginning to see that people are going to want to pay very little for what you sell. It is the same here in England when people sell at car boot sales. I suppose the only advantage I can see with a yard or garage sale is that you do not have to cart your stuff very far to sell it.
    I have recently sold stuff of mine in auctions and also friends have taken it to car boots for me to sell. I have made some money which I immediately spent on some Victorian cast iron railings. You see, I sold some junk just to buy some more!

    • The reason the whole thing is a pain is that we let too much stuff pile up. Now we have to price everything (and then all those prices will be haggled over) and we have to worry all week about the weather. If it rains, we are in deep trouble! We’ll probably use money we make to go out for a nice dinner!

  12. Hope it goes well, It sounds like the Michigan’s just may make the whole darn thing worth it! Just think …you sell your unwanted stuff to go out to eat next door at the neighbors….no driving and no dishes, that’s gotta count for something!

  13. Oh Kerry, you must take pictures and write about it. Alas, you will always need another sale because you like going to sales. Pauline and Jennifer have some good ideas, though about spicing it up and keeping the early birds at bay. I hope you have fun and make some good bucks.

    • I do like going to sales but I see realize I’m going to fewer this year and being much more discerning. People have given me some fun ideas and I’m sure we’ll be fine, especially if Mother Nature cooperates!

  14. After it’s all over you can add another never to your never never never again. May work 😉 . If you lived closer I would bring over a heap of stuff to add to your garage sale. I haven’t ever had a garage sale; imagine that.

  15. If you have a bunch of small items that might not get purchased, but you don’t want to cart them back into the house, you can set them up as a “gift with purchase” selection. Then you can advertise “Free gift with each purchase”.

  16. I swore them off a while back. Couldn’t stand people nosing around anymore. So I take stuff to the thrift store in town, St. Vincent dePaul bin at church, or trash. However, there may come a time when I sell the house that I may have to host one final yard sale. Ugh, but maybe by then, I will have slowly thinned out the contents of my home.

    • We never sell things like clothes or books at our sales–I donate those. It’s bigger stuff, like kind of nice older furniture, that’s hard to donate. I probably should do more through Craigslist. And, yes, this whole garage sale problem began when we sold one of the two homes we had and had to consolidate two house worth of stuff into one.

  17. Hope it was hugely successful. I haven’t done it in years because I hate haggling with someone over a $5 price on something that is clearly worth ten times that. LOL Now days I load it up in the car, drop it off at Goodwill, and smile through the whole thing. 🙂

  18. Right…needed to overcome the chagrin that I live to far away to have visited your garage sale anyways;0( But I share your dislike of organizing a garage sale ( as oppose to visiting one) So far I have only done this when moving ( so still a couple of times;0)) For anything else, I keep my house under control by a strict rule: if something comes in…something goes out! And I usually give it away or donate it to the big world of thrift stores again ;0) xo Johanna

  19. Pingback: Garage Sale Post-Mortem: By the Numbers | Love Those "Hands at Home"

  20. That title is so true, and I relate to your post – a lot! I cannot see how it’s worth one’s time, work and anxiety – financially and otherwise – to have a garage sale. so much trouble, so little return — unless you count the adventure of it.

    • And that’s what we did–focus on the adventure. And, really, it was fun to see people going away happy–the woman who bought my grandmother’s old rocker was so thrilled–it made me feel a lot better about letting the piece go.

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