I love a good yard sale, whether I’m hosting it or just looking for bargains in other people’s yards. Dave and I held a joint one with his cousin and his wife a hundred years ago. Essentially what we were doing was just swapping our "valuables" for theirs.
Until the cops shut us down, anyway. Literally. I’d never heard of such a thing, but then I’d never lived in town before. As it turns out, you have to have a permit to have a yard sale in city limits.
And the authorities have no sense of humor about it. They actually made us pack up our things and end the yard sale right then and there.
We probably weren’t going to make much from it anyway. It was a two-family sale and we barely covered two tables. We were all newlyweds and hadn’t acquired much stuff yet, let alone stuff we were willing to part with.
Dave and I planned a three-family sale this year with our stuff, our No. 1 son and new daughter’s stuff and her sister’s stuff, which she wanted back if it didn’t sell. Apparently, it will bring in more money in her neighborhood than in ours.
I never thought of that. I knew the "rule" of shopping in neighborhoods in higher tax brackets than your own, I just didn’t know you changed the prices on the same items depending on where they were being sold.
When Dave and I lived in our single-wide trailer, I could set up a yard sale in 20 minutes and make $25. Being on the front corner of the trailer park helped. A lot.
This year, we were gathering things up for months in anticipation of the sale, piling it up on the back porch. When the time finally came to set up, we made three or four trips with the trailer to haul everything out to the garage and borrowed more tables.
I cleaned the "whale" so we could fill it with ice and bottled water and even thought about baking cookies to sell. I’ve seen that done and it seems to be a good idea. I feel kind of bad if I look at somebody’s yard sale and can’t find one thing I can’t live without.
But, if they offer me a little bag of homemade goodies or a bottle of water for 50 cents, I’m in. I’m glad I didn’t waste my time baking. We thought we had everything under control. We weren’t breaking any cardinal rules of yard sales like having it on a holiday weekend or the week of the fair.
The weather report looked good. Everything in the sale was tested and checked. No fair selling broken things. I bought a beautiful OSU duffie for a dollar once — only to discover the zipper didn’t work. Shame on me for not checking, but shame on the seller for pushing off a broken duffie on paying customers.
I bought a used curling iron once that blew up in my hand and did $2,000 worth of electrical damage at the house. I’m very leery of buying used electrical appliances, although not against it entirely.
We recently got a brand new-looking coffee pot for $3. When I started reading the 12-page instruction booklet for setting it up, I knew why we got it for three bucks and immediately put in on the back porch with the rest of the yard sale items.
I’ve learned my lesson selling things that weren’t in the sale. We had been given a beautiful, fully-equipped pop-up camper (with A/C!). I had no intention of selling it. We hadn’t even used it yet. We set it up once in the backyard and were looking forward to a summer full of camping.
Some guy wandered into our yard sale and talked me into selling it. I did because up to that point I had no idea how we were going to pay our property taxes that year. The person who had given us the camper was quite upset. Not so much that we sold it, but more for the fact that we sold it for a fraction of what it was worth. I’d like to have a mulligan on that one.
Dave and I also sold a little wooden barrel that held a bunch of nuts and bolts and things in the garage. I’ve been kicking myself ever since, because our son told me it was the last thing our friend and neighbor had given him before he died. I’d like to get that one back, too.
I’d kind of like to get a do-over on our whole yard sale this year. Due to some advertising errors, we broke a major rule of yard sales — we held it on Friday, Saturday and Sunday — because the ad said we were going to. That was not our intention.
I never go to sales that start on Friday. I work on Fridays. If I can’t be there at the beginning of the sale, I’m not going. Evidently, a lot of people feel that way as we had one of our worst sales ever, if not THE worst. So, I think we’ll put everything back on the porch for now and see what happens in a month or so.