I don’t have a lot of experience with garage/yard/estate sales. The last time I did anything like this was about 45 years ago after my grandparents passed and I was helping my mother clean out their house so that my sister and her family could move into it. I remember my mother leaving the yard sale in tears and I assumed that I was doing something wrong. Turns out she was just emotional about seeing the end of an era. I do know that I probably gave some folks some incredible deals on old dolls. I didn’t have a clue.
The other side of these sales is shopping at them. Shannon’s family goes “garage saling” nearly every weekend and when we go to their home for Sunday dinner we are regaled with the finds of the week. All I can see is all the stuff that we will have to get rid of at yet another yard sale when they are no longer with us. But they have a good time and it gets them out of the house.
Needless to say, I was dreading hosting one of these events myself, but after exploring all our other options (from hiring an auction house to just throwing everything away) I had become acutely aware of the necessary evil of spending a whole weekend with strangers nickel and diming us on all our stuff. So we placed ads in all three of the local papers, made very professional (and huge) signs to guide people to our house, and set up all our stuff for our very own estate sale. I thought “estate sale” meant “we are selling everything we own.” Turns out it usually implies that someone has died.
We set the times for a very civilized 8-5, and by 7am on the first day we were inundated with shoppers, a lot of whom were dealers and sell at the local flea market (the place you go to see everybody’s yard sale stuff in one place at a substantial markup). By 8:30 I was ready for lunch and no break in sight. It was busy like that all day until around 3. We ate lunch on the fly and by the end of the day we were both pretty tired. We had thought that this would take at least two weekends, but after looking around at the end of the first day we realized that we had sold (or otherwise found homes for) a huge amount of stuff, and that we would be hard-pressed to fluff up the remains. So we decided to pull the ads for the following week and tried to get some rest.
Day 2, and we were up early bringing all of the clothes down from their display area in the loft. I set up a clothes area on the porch and moved everything that was left more toward the center of the house. The garage was empty (we have a new running joke about Shannon selling all the screwdrivers) and two of the three desks were gone out of the office. By the time we opened we looked fairly presentable again and I didn’t feel guilty about folks driving all the way out here to look at nothing. The second day proceeded at a more leisurely pace. I was consistently surprised at how people managed to find treasures in among all of the leftover stuff from the day before. Shannon’s sister Teri came out to help and was really good at moving stuff around to fill up holes. It was much less frantic but still steady all day. By the end of the day we only had enough stuff left to take one full truckload to the church free store. Not so bad!
- Surprise! I had a blast! Not only did we make good money, we were able to get rid of a huge amount of baggage in a very short period of time.
- The experience became more about finding new homes for our possessions than making money. We agreed up front to go with whatever the other one quoted for prices with the emphasis on getting rid of stuff, and at the end of the day the best part was seeing the empty rooms.
- Part of the fun was on day two having the time to talk to people and get to hear their stories. By doing this I was able to re-home several pieces of art that never would have sold for what they were worth. I was also able to send a huge bag of sweat pants to a local nursing home. It was fun just giving stuff away to people who needed it!
- I got to meet folks from our neighborhood that I have been waving at for 14 years but have never had a conversation with.
- I really am ready for this. . .the living small and living with less adventure that we have set our sights on. No misgivings, no remorse!