October 25, 2009

Free Yard Sale

So this idea DOES need more explanation than the title? Okay, I will give it.

We have a yard, and it is in an excellent location for yard sales: visible from a semi-main road, semi-visible from a main road. We've had a couple of standard yard sales there. The more successful one, I spent hours and hours gathering/sorting/pricing things and laying them out attractively, and we spent most of the day sitting outside monitoring it and not getting the things done we'd usually get done, and we made $75. VERY DISCOURAGING. (The less successful one, it was drizzling and we made $7.)

So now what we do is once per summer we put stuff out on our lawn with a big "FREE" sign, and people come and take it away for us. Usually the first few cars of the morning take about half of it, and the rest of it gets picked at over the rest of the day. If we do it during peak yard sale season it goes particularly quickly, no doubt because people are taking the stuff to sell at their own yard sales.

This has ended up being a much more satisfying way to do things. It's much, much easier: I don't have to fret about the condition of things or whether something might be broken or missing a piece; I don't have to put things out nicely; it doesn't have to be monitored; I don't have to decide how to price things; I don't have to deal with people trying to bargain me down to 75c from a dollar; I don't have to do math in my head; I don't have to sit there feeling frantically self-conscious while other people poke critically through my stuff.

I like to peek out the window at people and make up little fantasies about what they're taking and why. I pretend that the person taking the baby stuff is pregnant and has been lying awake nights wondering how she was going to afford the things she needs. I pretend that the person taking the kitchen canisters has been looking for those at antique stores for YEARS, to replace the ones from her childhood. It can be very gratifying to make this stuff up, and far better than imagining that other people are going to make MILLIONS by having a proper yard sale with it.

Our free yard sales have been much less impressive since we (1) had our porch made into a dining room and (2) started using Freecycle. The porch is where we used to dump all the stuff waiting for the day we did the yard sale, but we don't want to put all that stuff on the dining room table instead. (For one thing, the dining room table is ALREADY covered in stuff.) And with Freecycle, we tend to get rid of stuff as we have it, as opposed to saving it. Still, with a big pre-mother-in-law-visit purge, we get out the old sheets and put out a nice spread.

6 comments:

Shelly Overlook said...

What a fabulous idea!!

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I love the idea!!

We only had one "carport" sale (we had no garage..).

We advertised it as an "adult" sale -- but, we weren't specific about what "adult" entailed -- so we got lots of folks stopping by :) -- what we intended was to indicate there were no kid's clothes...

I don't think we made much money, mostly because I gave away lots of books -- which was the point of having the sale, as we were moving. It was fun -- I'd see what the people picked up, then recommended other stuff that went with it, sort of like Amazon.com does now...

I realized I'd love to have a store that gave away books, but that's a terrible business model.

Sarah said...

Now that the pressure of the MIL visit has passed, will you continue on your path towards a more orderly house? Honestly, I loved reading those posts! They were so motivating.

Kim said...

I'll never forget you making me feel better after our semi-fail of a yard sale last year when you told me about the $7 sale. We made around $100, but for all the time and effort put into it beforehand, it was not even close to being worth it. Should I ever need to do a big purge again, Free Yard Sale will be the plan.

MoMMY said...

The thought of having a yard sale fills me with dread. We just put it on the curb and it disappears within a day or two. No sign, no fuss. And if it still happens to be there on garbage day? (almost NEVER happens) The garbage men pick it up. Win-win!

C C Donna said...

I hate, hate, hate having yard sales! I now bag most everything up and haul it over to the hospital thrift shop or another thrift shop in town and get a receipt that I fill out for the IRS which ends up allowing me to take about $1,500. in tax deductions every year. My understanding is that you can take 1/3 of the original value of the item. Jeans...$60, I can claim $20.00. (there are IRS guidelines on the max you can take, depending on the item, even furniture, but I think they are quite generous) Remember, Bill Clinton took a tax deduction for donating his used undies!?...so I guess anything goes. Anyway, the thrift shops don't take everything but they take much of my "stuff" and I can use the tax deduction.