Thursday, June 20, 2013

Everything but the . . .

Garage sales are just minor blips on the activity schedule of most families. Whatever is cluttering up closets, the basement, or the garage and may have any value at all goes up for grabs. What’s left often goes to Goodwill, The Salvation Army, or the trash collector.

At our place, a garage sale is a big deal.

This year was the 10th annual community-wide sale sponsored by Ed Giffels, a real estate agent who is one of our neighbors. Giffels gives a yard sign to each participant, pays for advertising, and even provides maps to guide visitors to sale locations. He deserves a real estate commission or several as repayment, and he probably is rewarded. At the very least, the annual event acquaints or reacquaints a lot of people with the location of our community and what the homes look like.

This time, 52 families participated in the one-day event. So many visitors showed up that traffic jams clogged neighborhood streets in several places at various times. At our sale, 167 people bought one or more items, ranging from a 32-foot ladder that went for $100 to a cookie cutter shaped like an elf that brought in 25 cents. 

We've participated in the community sale for four years. You’d think we would be just about out of used stuff to sell, yet total sales this time were the best ever. And we have enough items to have another go at it next year. That probably is due to three factors:

1. Beautiful wife Sandy plans and supervises the sale at our place. Because of her merchandising skill she is becoming known locally as the “queen of garage sales,” and also is referred to as “commander” by her team members. She gets many compliments from visitors on the quality of our items and displays.

2. The “team” contributes items and also staffs our sale. Members are son Lee, his fiancĂ©e Karen, Karen’s mother Ilse, and last and least, me. Pay is lunch and dinner provided by Sandy on sale day.  Thus, sale day is somewhat of a family social event.

3. The previous (and only) owners of our home unwittingly supported endless annual sales when they included an over-sized garage in the house design. They probably intended it to hold two vehicles plus a boat, golf cart, or both. We have one car, no boat, and no golf cart. We can store all sorts of stuff in the bonus space with no problem. Although we sent one item to the trash after this year’s sale, Sandy boxed up almost all other leftovers. The boxes will stay out of the way in the garage ready to be unpacked for the 2014 sale.
Sandy's sale area even is prepared for rain, thanks to tents supplied by Lee and Karen. Ilse is the chief cashier.

Sandy has two golden rules for successful garage selling: (1) No dirty or broken items, and (2) No untidy or disorganized displays. Sandy spends two weeks before garage sale day setting things up. She also has devised an efficient system for storing leftovers. Sandy operated a successful craft creation and sales business for many years, and gained a lot of merchandise display expertise along the way.

The geezer should have learned long ago not to questions Sandy’s decisions, but after last year’s sale I weakened. We had remodeled our kitchen and one big leftover was the old sink. It was a rather large, white enameled, cast iron model—free of cracks and chips, but, frankly, not very appealing. It didn't sell or attract much interest on sale day, and it wouldn't fit in a box as a normal holdover item. After tripping over it or having to move it a time or two on routine garage errands, I suggested the trash was the proper place for the old kitchen sink.

“No way,” Sandy said. “That sink will sell.”

“Nonsense,” I grumbled. “Who would want that old thing?”

To prove her point, Sandy advertised the sink on Craigslist, and it sold within a week for $200. The buyer was delighted with his purchase.

In matters of used-item merchandising, it is unwise to question the judgment of garage sale “queens” or “commanders.”


Ed Giffels said...

Thank you Richard!!!

Ed Giffels

Tom Sightings said...

52 families ... wow, that's a tag sale! I always wondered if Craig's list put a dent in the tag sale culture, but apparently it hasn't. I guess there's just no substitute for the experience of going there, poking around the merchandise, and finding that special something you absolutely must have that you never knew you needed.

PiedType said...

I tried doing a garage sale once, back in the '70s. It was a lot of work getting ready and I had to get a permit from the city. Almost nobody stopped by and I sold zilch. Swore off them then. In my current neighborhood, the HOA sets up a big neighborhood-wide garage sale once or twice a year. Nice for the folks who like to participate. said...

I love this underground market. Never taxed and much is recycled. Good for all of you. Dianne

Jhawk 23 said...

Your way is best - lots of families going in on having a group sale. Ebay, I've found, can work for small collectibles and trinkets. But Craigslist is a big boon for those big bulky things you wouldn't want to have to ship to anyone.

Vagabonde said...

That sounds like a great sale. I wish we could have one like this around here as we are trying to get rid of 36 years of accumulation in our house, but we live on a road, no subdivision and not many houses around here – and…I am no Sandy … would not know how to get these things organized!

Anonymous said...

I don't remember ever having seen a garage sale here in the UK.
What are popular here at weekends are 'car boot(trunk)sales'.

Kay said...

You know... I love Craigslist for finding things I need, but have never sold anything. You're making me reconsider. I LOVE garage sales!