Saturday, October 01, 2005

Garage Sale Grumblings

I'm a glutton for punishment. The house is finally (nearly) settled, and I had a ton of "leftover" junk. I decided to have a garage sale. I HATE having garage sales, it's so much work, and the money I make is never worth it! Never, never, never! "I will never have a garage sale again," I tell myself, after every garage sale.

In years past, the garage sale venture has been shared with my friend, Bob The Garage Sale King. Bob lives on a main drag in this town, one in which college football traffic backs up, etc. Location, Location, Location!!! Plus, Bob could sell an ice cube to an Eskimo.

I have never developed a knack for throwing a profitable garage sale. One of my problems is that I get too embarrassed to sell junky junk. "Who would buy that?" I think, and I pitch it. I only put the very best junk in my sale: an immaculate bar stool, an extra crock pot [it works], Sony telephone that does everything but the dishes ($90 new!) with low, low prices.

And though Bob & company have some pretty good loot also, they don't exclude their junk. Broken toys, used toothbrushes, his mother's underwear,* a keychain that came in some junkmail: Anything Bob doesn't need gets a price tag on it. A PRICEY price tag too! Bob seems to have figured out some weird garage-saler psychology that I just can't get through my head: If you put a hefty price on something, people will think it must be worth something!
"$14.00 for a 64 oz. plastic Big Gulp cup from the 7-11? Ohhhhh, it's 1995 Big Gulp cup; a collector's item someday! You can't get these anymore!! I wonder if he'll come down to $12?
How does he do it?!!! After every sale, my profits are counted out from the muffin tin we used to separate the coins. Meanwhile, Bob is hiring security guards and backing an armored Brinks truck into his driveway to safely transfer his proceeds from his garage to the bank vault.

I spent 3 evenings last week putting little dot-stickers on my crap. My son went through his childhood toys. We bought inner tubes and fixed up a bike with flat tires. I borrowed tables. We swept the garage and placed the ad and posted the sign, and proceeded with the garage sale.

Without Bob. What a heinous mistake.

90 minutes into my sale, I'd sold $3 worth of stuff, while my son was up $1.25. I spent the morning getting grouchier and grouchier at every customer, having wicked little conversations in my head:
"Buy that! It is SUCH a great deal! JESUS! 50 cents was too much for ya?!! That was a $30 spice rack!! Don't you have any grandkids that need those toys? Oh, PLEASE don't spray that perfume in here. Next time I sell a 1/2 bottle of perfume, I'll put it OUTSIDE; this garage smells like a french whorehouse. Oh!! yeah!! That's right, you need that. Buy it, buy it, buy it...DAMN!!"
By the end of business hours, I had about $30 to my name. My son made $16.50. The newspaper ad set me back $20.

I deflatedly boxed everything up, pouting and swearing that I will never EVER have another garage sale as long as I live. I grumpily calculated that I made about 78 cents an hour for the endeavor. When will I ever learn, this is the LAST time I ever do this, as long as I live.

I came in for coffee, and settled myself at the computer to find an e-mail from Bob. He'd had a garage sale this morning too! HE had made 300 [that's three HUNDRED] American dollars in 4 hours, and they had had so much FUN!! What a beautiful day!

In fact, they had such a profitable beautiful day, that they're going to hold another 4-hour sale 2 Saturdays from now!!



C'mon! I HAVE to do it! My stuff is already marked, and I have a lot of really good loot left!!!

*I admit to embellishing this part of my griping. To my knowledge, Bob has never tried to sell his Mother's underwear.


  1. I hate, hate, hate garage sales and never make any money, either. You have to put your stuff in Bob's garage sale, though. It's marked, it's boxed, it's ready to go. Did CJ come over, Lisa?

  2. CJ *did* come over. He said, "I could use this!" and he bought a little rubber dinosaur for 25 cents (hence the .25 in my son's 1.25 profits). He was otherwise dressed and paint-free, so nothing to tell here!

  3. I'm sorry that you went through all of that work for very little profit.

    You did, however, get some interesting stories out of it... :0)

  4. Anonymous8:14 PM

    You're right, Bob's unique. Maybe Bob will buy your perfume for his mom. Tell him it's a collector's item. It was a good excuse to clean your garage.

  5. There's no perfume left; it was THE one hot-seller at my sale...Of course because it was the only aspect in which I took the Master's lead: I tried to sell something I thought people wouldn't like.

    Hey Mikey, they liked it!!!

  6. garage sales are (almost) always a colossal letdown. One exception: my friend Amy, a fellow writer, held a garage sale a month ago. She made $350, which she promptly spent at IKEA on bookshelves and kids' desks, and during the garage sale a local poet came to check out the merchandise. Amy had been reading that poet recently and admired her work. Can you imagine attracting one of your favorite authors to a garage sale?!

  7. Oh, I would just love it if John Cusack came to my garage sale. I know he's not an author, but it's MY garage-sale fantasy!

    What would he buy?!! The perfume is gone; I think he'd go for Brian's Hollister t-shirt, and the ziploc bag full of metal airplane toys.


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