On Saturday morning around 8:06 am, my mom walked around the corner of our house with an armful of miscellaneous kitchen and home goods. “I know this isn’t how it’s supposed to go,” she said as she unloaded the goods onto the table under the large blue tent. “I’ll bring a couple more items by on Sunday,” she said as she walked back to her car.
Thankfully, three days, hundreds of neon circular stickers, one giant rain storm, visits from great friends like Christiana, Janine, and Beatrice, and refolding clothes countless times, the vast MAJORITY of our items for sale are gone.
One of the French teachers at school, Caroline, often remarks about her parents’ fascinations with yard sales. Apparently, lawn sales aren’t common place in France. When Caroline’s parents visit, they make her drive them around in order to partake in the unique US social experiment known as lawn sales. Why are yard sales uniquely American? What sort of weird taboo fascinations does our culture have with trying out (and then purchasing) used clogs, blenders, and fleece blankets?
In case you are asking yourself, “How in the heck do I have a yard sale?”, I have made a simple *how-to* for you:
- For years, or decades, add items to your home. Some call it hoarding; I call it “yard sale prep.” An ugly scarf from your aunt Marge? Keep it. Gifted a book about quantum physics that you have no intention of reading? Keep it. Find a half-used journal on the street? Bring it home. Old plastic gelato containers? Don’t you dare throw them away. Keeping useless items is your first step to assure a successful yard sale.
- Another way to prep for a yard sale is to attend many OTHER yard sales. If you notice a neighbor down the street is having a lawn sale from 9-5 Saturday and Sunday, be sure to stop by at 4:53pm on Sunday. You will gain a bunch of items for next to nothing (or nothing I have found). These items can all serve as the merchandise for YOUR own yard sale the following summer. Who knows? That neighbor may even pay YOU a quarter for a mason jar you took off his hands for free the summer prior.
- Plan an appropriate time for your yard sale. It must be during the summer. Not during the July 4th holiday, not right when everyone gets out of school, and not right when school is restarting.
- Advertise appropriately for your sale. Words like “good prices” and “goin’ cheap” on your neon pink signs are sure to draw in an entertaining yet financially responsible crowd.
- Make one room of your home the yard sale room. Go through your home, picking up one item at a time. Pick it up, ask yourself if your life can continue on without this item. If the answer is yes, immediately bring this item to the yard sale room. Soon, this room will be filled with your decades of treasures ready to sell.
- On the day of the yard sale, put everything from the yard sale room onto tables or blankets outside. Tag the items with prices based on your personal relationship with the item. Those earrings from your ex? “You can take them for a dime.” That tan cardigan that belonged to your grandmother and you have worn countless times prior to the moth infestation of 2012? “$30”. People will haggle you, but you must remember that you are the store owner. If they don’t want to pay the asking price for that chipped cup or stained table cloth, that is absolutely their problem.
- Every yard sale should have a free pile. Often, the items in the free pile are almost exactly the items in the rest of the lawn sale that have a monetary value. Who cares? You are the store owner. This is your lawn after all (I hope).
- When the lawn sale is done, box up the items that didn’t sell and put them back in your bedroom. There is always next year’s yard sale after all.
Thank you to friends and family who donated items to our yard sale, stopped by for a beer and some laughs, or came by to take items from the free pile (seriously, no judgement here).
Alison & Grant