Garage Sale Post-Mortem: By the Numbers

IMG_7755So happy . . .

It’s over!

The never-again garage sale is over.

And after all that carrying on I did, I have to admit it went so well!

By the numbers:

  • Days involved—about 2 days of hard-core preparation, focused on making items presentable, setting up tables, pricing, and “merchandising.” The sale itself lasted 1 very busy evening from 4-7, 1 exhausting day from 8-3, and 1 mellow morning from 8-noon.
  • Perfect weather—5 days, for set-up and sale—bright sunshine, low humidity, temps in the 70s. If I could be guaranteed this weather, I might have a garage sale every year!
  • Time the first people showed up for the 4 o’clock sale—11 a.m.
  • Time the same people came back for the 4 o’clock sale—3 p.m.
  • Time I finally relented and let them all in—3:55 p.m.
  • Shoppers—hundreds. Everyone who made it to our house, at the end of the road, talked about the traffic and congestion and throngs/hordes/droves of people!
  • Items sold—hundreds, proving the maxim that, “one person’s trash is another’s treasure”!
  • Items sold that gave me pause—a few. My grandmother’s old bed. A beautiful rocker from the farm. A couple of vintage sewing cases. It helped that the buyers seemed to love what they got!
  • Money made—closer to $1000 than $500.
  • Clean-up time—less than 1 hour; so easy because we had so little left!
  • Leftovers—1 box of books, 4 boxes of odds and ends, all to be donated.
  • Back in the garage—1 old chair, 3 larger antiques that I’ll put on Craigslist.
  • Favorite moments—1. A woman from a couple miles away, who has her own big sale every year, pointed at my little porch glider (not for sale) and announced loudly, “THAT’S what I’m looking for!” To which I answered, “I bought that from you last year!” I really did . . .
  • Free time—Not a lot, except on Sunday morning. I spent that time going through boxes of damaged linens that I’ve accumulated, to decide what could be thrown away, what could be recycled into rag rugs (if I ever go that direction with weaving), and what could be cut up to use in other projects. I started thinking about a quilt that would incorporate pretty fragments, especially monograms, from damaged items. I winnowed 5 plastic bins into 1½.

It was a three-day whirlwind. We ate on the fly, gave garden tours, chatted with neighbors, made sure no one took off with our friendly cats, shooed the neighbor kids away. I dug up a piece of my hops vine to send home with a shopper.

We haggled (not really—we gave great prices!), we laughed, we lamented missing out on the sales down the road.

I didn’t get to the neighbor’s for one of her Michigans. I went to only one other sale, after we had closed ours, but I did score some old linens!

So, it’s over. It was more fun than I expected, more profitable than I anticipated, and we divested ourselves of more stuff than I could’ve hoped.

If fact, it went so smoothly I haven’t even felt the need to exclaim “never again.” But I will say, “No time soon!”

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?