The Art of the Yard Sale

By: Shannon Shull

The past two Saturdays I have hosted two yard sales – an event that requires much preparation and hard work, with no guaranteed reward.

The first yard sale was a family event, with several households joining together to rid ourselves of unneeded items with hopes of gaining monetary rewards and freedom from clutter. The big day had been planned and rescheduled twice due to bad weather. On our third try, it poured rain the night before but a promise of amazing weather on the day of our scheduled sale gave us the determination to push forward and finally make the big sale happen. With a great location close to downtown Lexington, we thought we’d surely get enough traffic to get rid of tons of goods and make a decent profit. To our dismay, all our hard work did not turn much of a profit that day. It was the random shopper that made an offer on my grandmother’s old car in the driveway that made the day worthwhile. She’d been planning to get rid of the car, but somehow never thought to put a sign on it for the yard sale. A fella asked what we wanted for the car and low and behold, the money was handed over, the title signed and the car hauled off! That unexpected purchase was the hit of the day, but sadly we still had a ton of stuff on our hands.

Fortunately, my neighborhood was having their big neighborhood-wide yard sale the following weekend, so we transported all the goods to my house in preparation for that sale. Thankfully, we had much more traffic for our second sale and were actually able to get rid of a lot of stuff and make a decent amount of money.

Yard sale

It was at this sale that I learned more about the actual art of the yard sale. There were folks that showed up with flashlights at 6am as we were setting things up. A neighbor told us there was a couple waiting outside their house literally at 5 a.m. asking if they could look over their yard sale stuff as soon as she opened her garage. Now that’s craziness right there! I’ve seen some serious yard sale shoppers in the past, but the folks who hit up these neighborhood-wide sales were hardcore! I saw all walks of life trekking through the maze of junk and goods, some just enjoying the thrill of the shopping experience and others on a serious hunt for specific items. The saying, “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” is absolutely a true statement! Let’s just say, I was astounded at some of the things that people actually paid me money for! Things I wouldn’t take for free, much less pay for! But hey, to each his own!

We had the pleasure of being schooled by one hardcore yard sale shopper that I am very thankful for. This lady happened to overhear a guy totally take advantage of me. Of course, I had no idea I was being taken because I was clueless as to how much brass was worth. So when he totally haggled me in a nice, yet manipulative manner, I caved in and gave him the deal of the century apparently. When he left, the lady sweetly informed me that he just got a way with a total steal and “took” me. At that point there was nothing I could do, as he had already escaped with a bag full of lovely brass candlesticks that he’ll be able to resell for a nice profit. I guess the lady had pity on my naïve, unschooled yard sale self because she proceeded to point out things of value that we had, that some yard sale sharks could easily rob us of if we didn’t know any better. We had a lovely black cup and saucer that just looked like plain ole black ceramics to us. She held them up to the sun and showed us how the sunlight shined purple through the glass. We had a vintage black amethyst mourning piece on our hands! Upon a little research we discovered that the set dates back to the 1930s and is worth much more than the 50 cents I might’ve inevitably sold it for! Needless to say, do your research before hosting a yard sale! You never know which items of your “clutter” may actually be special and worth more than you’d think.

Though I do not plan to survive another yard sale anytime soon, I can say that when I host another one, I will certainly do my research and be prepared to better handle the sharks of the yard sale world. Check out the links below for tips on how to shop yard sales and how to host a money-making yard sale.

http://www.newsadvance.com/the_burg/features/cover_story/the-art-of-the-yard-sale-what-to-bring-when/article_ceb69274-ca32-11e3-8577-001a4bcf6878.html

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20516775,00.html

To close out my entry here, I thought I’d share with you this info that I found on Wikipedia that actually applies to the “art” of the yard sale. I find it fascinating! I certainly experienced the cultural phenomenon that is the yard/garage sale. And if I actually had the time, I might consider diving more into this fascinating “trash to treasure” world of sales.

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