Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Captain Monkeypants Guide to Garage Sales....

It is a super wet night out there. I drove back from my parents where it was raining but only sporadically back to Cincinnati where it is a steady downpour at the moment. It's apparently been raining a lot. I discovered my herb garden is partially under water and the new asparagus trench I dug is completely flooded. I'm hoping it will drain on its own by tomorrow, otherwise I'll have to start bailing out the water.

Rory and Sookie are pleased to be home but are quite disgusted that their garden is sopping wet. It's so wet that when you walk, water seeps up from the grass. Given that they hate getting their feet wet, they're not thrilled to go outside.

Nevertheless, we had a nice weekend, even despite the rain. It was the Citywide Garage Sale day yesterday in my parent's town and, as we did last year, my sister and I had made plans well in advance to go. My brother-in-law usually joins us for the sales and acts as a very kind and patient chauffeur.

This year, I woke up to discover that it was raining on the day of the sales. After a bit of dithering, my sister and I decided to risk it since the forecast said it was going to clear up. After a wet start, the day did clear up and we managed to hit rather a lot of sales.

Since this was my second year of going to garage sales, I felt far more experienced. Last year, I not only went to my parent's town Garage Sale Day but also the neighbouring town's and then, at the end of the summer, the one in my own neighbourhood.

Thus, I've learned a lot and I know what's a bargain and what isn't. What I've learned is that you can easily tell who has either had or been to to garage sales before and who is absolutely clueless.

The richer folk, the ones who live in the nice neighbourhoods clearly don't go to many sales. This is evident by the fact that they feel their junk is worth far more than it is. The whole point of a garage sale is to get rid of stuff and raise a little money in the process. This means that you price things low and people will buy them. If you label them at a price that is only a few dollars below what you'd pay new in a store when the item is clearly nowhere near new, you won't sell them.

For example, DVD's. I love buying DVD's at garage sales. Unless it's a rarity, DVD's should be $2 at most. If it's a DVD that you find in the $5 bin at Walmart, it should not be sold for $4 when the case is bent and it looks a little beaten up.

Some of the sales we went to were just completely unrealistic. I was looking for a cheap weed whacker. Well, I found one but it was a bit cruddy looking and they wanted $45 for it. Now, Walmart has a weed wacker for $47. Granted, it may not be as good quality as the garage sale one originally was but, lets face it, you buy it at a garage sale, you can't take it back if it breaks. If you buy a cheaper one at Walmart and it breaks, you can exchange it. Also, the Walmart one will be shiny and new and not brown, dented and grass-stained.

So, just as a hint if you're going to have a garage sale, if you have an item that you want to sell for a fairly decent sum of money, don't put it out at a garage sale. Put it on Craigslist. If you do try and sell it at a garage sale and people keep asking if you'll take less, take a hint. If people keep offering less, then it's priced too high. My name for this is "An Overpriced Crap Sale."

As another tip, if you're having a family garage sale and it's in a garage, it's not a good idea to invite all your family to come at the same time and sit with you. It's especially not a good idea if it's a small garage and you all are sitting in said garage. You see, for a buyer, this is highly uncomfortable. It leads to what I like to call, "Being Stared At Syndrome."

Yes, garage sale perusers do not like to go into a pokey little garage where you're really only selling absolute junk and discover that there are seven or eight people sitting in there. They especially do not like it if you stop your conversation when they start browsing. It's...what's the word...oh yes, UNCOMFORTABLE.

If you have to sit there while people browse and there's more than one of you, have a conversation. Don't stop and stare. It makes people hightail out of your pokey little garage and run away.

Trust me, this happened to us at least 3 times yesterday. As awful as it sounds, the old couples are the worst. These are usually pensioners- husbands and wives who are selling their treasures.

The problem with this is that quite often, these folk don't go to garage sales so they tend to have Overpriced Crap Sales. Their items usually consist of such things as beat up kitchen utensils that are clearly from the '70's, a plethora of Christmas items, usually handmade but very rural and craftsy, Chicken Soup for the Soul books and for some strange reason, used personal hygiene products.

Sadly, as sterotypical as this sounds, it's not an exaggeration. Some of the sales even had,um, used undergarments for sale. Now, while I appreciate the need to earn a little something-something from your items, used underwear is where most people draw the line. Tip #3- don't sell used underwear.

These older couples very much inflict the second issue I listed, "Being Stared at Syndrome." They sit in the corner of their garage and beam at you which is first. Then they comment on every single thing you pick up. Sometimes, they get enthusiastic and they start to push you to buy something by following you around, telling you about everything. I try not to give in to this although last year, I purchased a set of picture frames for $3 because it was either that or some bizarre sew-on sequined decals that were absolutely everywhere and, in most cases, they were so hideous that I couldn't help but pick some up to examine them. This, of course, led to the proprietor thinking that I was actually interested in the decals and telling me about them in great detail. Thus, I bought the picture frames and skedaddled as quickly as possible.

I try not to do that very often. These days, my sister and I tend to shy away from garage sales where there's nothing in the driveway, the garage is small and doesn't hold many items for sale and the garage is flanked in front by an elderly couple in lawn chairs.

It sounds bad but, trust me, until you experience this, you don't know how uncomfortable it is.

There are other rules to garage sales. While it's a nice idea to sell baked goods, if it's mid afternoon and your cookies and muffins have turned into soggy piles of goo under the sun, you might want to take them away. They look a little vile.

Also, if you have kids, don't have them play with the toys that you're trying to sell in the middle of the driveway while people try to dodge them. I know that kids get excited but when they're making a mess with the toys, it makes it hard to see what's for sale and what isn't.

On the other hand, if you price your stuff low, you're pleasant and friendly and you don't hover, you get points for being a good sale. If someone asks a question, it's good to answer it but don't shout out info on every single thing someone picks up.

Just a few tips, in case you're having a sale or thinking about attending them. Yesterday's sales were quite good. There were some good bargains to be had and the shoppers were out in large numbers by the afternoon.

All in all, it was a fun garage sale day. I'm hoping we can go the neighbour town's again this year but that's in June and we'll have to see. For now, however, I'm going to hang with the puppies and examine some of my bargains- some prints, a plant rack and a magnet with a cute picture of a clown that says, "I've got a circus in my pants." I couldn't help it, it made me giggle.

Yes, I'm twelve. But if you can't buy crap like that at a garage sale for 25 cents, when can you?

Happy Monday!

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