Thursday, September 6, 2012

Yard Sale

 
Ever since my Cleaning Out, Paring Down post in May, I've been going through every drawer, every closet, every shelf, box and cabinet in the basement and throwing things in plastic storage bins.  I've been pricing items and organizing them by "department."  Housewares, lamps and lights, textiles, vintage, furniture, books, CDs appliances and home improvement.
 
I placed ads on Craig's List and posted flyers on telephone poles around the neighborhood.   Through the tiny bulkhead, I dragged the undercounter refrigerator, the rugs and rolls of fabric, the microwave (which I'm perfectly happy to live without), the tables and chairs and the several bins of collected and unused stuff out for a yard sale.
 
 
The crowds came. It was a madhouse for about an hour. I could have sold some things three or four times. People were gleeful. People shelled out good money for CDs, used duvet covers, mismatched drinking glasses, odd silverware, kitchen towels, pillow shams, old light fixtures and a pull-down map of the world. And, thank God, that refrigerator!  I was cleaned out.  Only eight items made their way back in to the house.

Not only did I clean out the house, I gained an understanding.  I understand how so many people NEED yard sales.  Students need yard sales to set up their first apartments.  Teachers need yard sales to buy music, books and supplies for their students.  The man who helps new families coming from the Dominican Republic needs yard sales to buy pots and pans, bedding, drapes and towels.  The down-on-their-luck need yard sales to stretch a dollar just a little farther.  The Jamaican woman who lives in a one-room apartment at the elderly housing complex needs a yard sale for a quick "sit-down" and a friendly ear to hear about her diabetes and how to make a proper green plantain porridge. 
 
On Tuesday, the chiropractor straightened out my back and I licked the wounds of my reality smackdown.  I am lucky.  And I am truly humbled.

58 comments:

  1. Oh! I wish I'd known. I live around the corner in Boston and follow you religiously. I'm glad you were so successful.

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  2. What a wonderful feeling. Cleaning out and in the end, helping others. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Holy Cow!!! What a time you must have had!!! You must feel so much better without the clutter.

    Sally and I haven't had a yard sale in quite some time. (We had people waiting outside our door at 5:30 in the morning waiting for the 8 AM start... We were terrified!!!) Now, we simply put things out on trash night with a big free sign attached. always gone in the AM.

    Yet, maybe we need to do the "big purge" again. You give me courage!

    Cheers,
    John

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  4. Yes, we just did this a weekend ago too! I rabidly hate them...I don't go to them, so apparently way underprice my junque. BUT I do get rid of...and mostly give away, for all of the reasons you mentioned.

    Yes, Garage sale boy...we ARE lucky indeed!

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  5. You're right, Tim. I'm going to talk to a few area schools to see if I can donate more to them. I'd love to help if I can.

    John,
    The "Free" sign works wonders and one of my neighbors has a "free" table that anyone can add to or take from. It's great.

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  6. I underpriced as well. I didn't want to bring things back in the house. I marked down the big things throuh the day and I set up a bin of all free stuff out by the street that I added to all day long. That was a big hit and really drew people in.

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  7. I underpriced as well. I didn't want to bring things back in the house. I marked down the big things throuh the day and I set up a bin of all free stuff out by the street that I added to all day long. That was a big hit and really drew people in.

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  8. You didn't underprice, you priced well so you wouldn't have to handle things again and it allowed people to feather their nests and classrooms with your beauties! A successful garage sale is a win win for all parties, and if the seller expects retail prices for their prizes (and many do!) then no one wins.

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  9. Congratulations. I love what you wrote about why people need yard sales - great food for thought.

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  10. Very interesting post. It looks like you had some very lovely things. I love yard sales but I NEED to sleep in on Saturday morning and have a coffee before I am fit for social interaction.

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  11. Yard sale as microcosm! Go and have a long hot bath, with epsom salts.

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  12. Thank God I didn't know, we had a 3 day weekend and might have driven up...

    and I need to be selling, not buying another plank bottom chair cause it's only 10.00 and it needs a good home.

    I love to host a yard sale, i too love the people, the excitement, the friends that drop by with a Starbucks and a pocket full of $$$.

    Maybe October?

    I'll let you know:-)

    xo J.

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  13. So like you, Steve, to find the real silver-lining in the resplendent outcome for your sale - all the people who you bothered to come to really know and appreciate during that crazy busy day. Nice work.

    And, were those Dash and Albert rugs? Darn, I wish I ad been one of your customers.

    Linda in Virginia

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  14. You know, I have been thinking of doing a yard sale but didn't think it was worth the bother for the amount of money I would make. Now I see I was looking at things in totally the wrong way. Wish I could have come to your yard sale!

    xo Terri

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  15. Yard sales are awful and yard sales are wonderful - all at the same time!!

    glad you were so successful. So much gone, space (real and psychic) cleaned out, and a few bucks to spend on that bedroom you are renovating!

    Sorry I'm 600 miles away. Would have enjoyed helping you and talking with the Jamaican lady!

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  16. Didn't you just buy those chinese bowls? I wish I had got that wooden box...

    :)

    xo T.

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  17. I love a good yard sale. Like my mom always said, "one man's trash, is another man's treasure." Truer word were never spoken.

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  18. I haven't been here a while. You are such a decent, lovely bloke.

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  19. It is always such. Good feeling when you clean out the clutter and things you longer want or need. It is even better when you know all your items are going to someone who can truly use them.

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  20. I love this post--the examples you give of people who NEED are touching and true.

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  21. I think that's my favourite post of all I've read by you. Beautifully considered and beautifully written. And moving.

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  22. And I need your yardsale! Too bad I live in NC. Seriously, you are right about people "needing" yardsales. We are always blown away by the number of teachers who come to shop for their classrooms on the weekend. Good stuff.

    René

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  23. Yippee! Love hearing how other's clean out and simplify. I gathered up another box and stuck it in my trunk for GoodWill this week. Don't you just love the feeling of it?

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  24. What sobering thoughts you shared. it is an amazing thing to have a yard sale for all the reasons you stated. People do good and need good, whatever the good is. Ian kept encouraging me to go see what you were up to. I wish I had, not only for the obvious treasures that I know you dragged out of that vast and curious basement, but because clearly, lol, you had some fabrics for me. :) We forget how lucky we are, sometimes, regardless of our situations. Thanks for the reminder.

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  25. Glad I didn't know, I would have been buying things I don't really need at present. I had a two weekend yard sale last year when I moved. Unfortunately, I didn't do nearly as well as you did, though I sold a lot. I kept a few items from what was left and donated the rest, which was quite a lot, to Sal's Boutique (aka Salvation Army Thrift Store). But I'll admit, I wanted to go to the store a week later and see a) how much they were pricing things for and b) buy stuff back. But, I didn't need it and hopefully folks who were in need of very reasonably priced goods were happy with what was there.

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  26. I used to be a yard sale junkie. Then I opened my shop and had to work weekends....no more yard sales :( I ran into very interesting people. Yes, there were students, teachers, bargain hunters, professional dealers, etc. Your sale was a great success. Congrats!

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  27. I love yard sales, but will never have one. I have a free sign and put things out on the corner.
    One thing I also love to do is put out perennials when I am dividing and no longer have room for them in my garden; I seem to have a regular following and have met people in the neighborhood who have told me my perennials are flourishing in their gardens...makes me feel great!

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  28. We just have so much that we forget don't we? I just had a very special experience this morning, too, Steve which I may have to post about and quote your words which are still resonating with me.
    "I am lucky. And I am truly humbled."

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  29. I have enjoyed your blog for a long time, but never commented. This was a great post. Loved your perspective on garage sales and the people that shop. Makes me want to have one!

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  30. Anonymous 9:08 - Sharing perennials is a great idea!

    Annie, I look forward to your post!

    Kathy, Thank you following and for commenting!

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  31. Good job . . . I am in the clean out process too . . . Thanks for giving me more encouragement . . .

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  32. Wow, you had some good stuff! I'm so happy for you that it went so well. It really touches my heart to think of you sitting there with the elderly woman and listening to her. I think that getting old makes many people invisible to others. No one seems to have time to slow down and care. You are so kind.
    I've been getting rid of "Stuff" too. Every weekend at least a load. I can't handle doing the Yard Sale thing, instead I just drag it to the curb and it's gone. Sometimes I even help people load it in their cars. I've also given away a lot of apples off of my tree! LOL!
    Great post.

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  33. Amen.

    And also, if I lived Boston, I would have been one of those 6am yard sale stalkers. You had some good stuff going.

    Camille

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  34. What a sweet post. I especially loved the line about the Jamaican woman ... so beautifully written! I like this way of thinking about a yard sale. When we've had them in the past, we've had a variety of folks, including the antiques/vintage dealers who buy our things dirt cheap, then take them back to their shop and mark them up. That used to bother me, but now I realize I was helping them make a living. That's a much nicer way to think of it.
    Claudia

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  35. The first time I had a tag sale was 3 years ago...at the end of the day I said everyone at some point should have one. Not just because you get rid of stuff, but to experience everything a tag or a garage sale means to so many different people. We placed an ad in the local paper and said it started at 8am on a Friday. By 6am my quiet dead end street was lined with cars and people standing at the end of my driveway. It was the riding lawn mower that was the hook. I said in the ad that it did not run, but was like new. Well of course the first person in line had it running in less than a minute. It was an amazing experience for all the reasons you wrote about...wish I had known, Steve. I would have driven up for it...and brought you lunch!
    annie

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  36. beautiful piece, steve. love all the connections you made here. it's kinda like you peeled the obvious layer back and exposed all the lovely interactions of your sale. just loved it. donna

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  37. I love yard sales- and yes, we all need them! We have been purging and cleaning out our closets as well. Problem is, we live so far out in the country I don't think many people would come to our yard sale. So glad yours was successful!

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  38. What an incredible perspective in your wonderful post! I never looked at it the way you speak about it, but you are so right.

    I LOVE sales like yours and would die to run across one.

    One of these days soon, I'm going to have one and I have some GOOD STUFF...I just don't need it anymore, so it will be a pleasure to think of it in this way.

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  39. That looked like the mother of all yard sales!! I don't believe I have ever seen a more organized sale. So glad it was a bit hit... on all levels.
    happy weekend!
    joan

    (p.s. since Labor Day has passed I'm excited to go back to "our" Maine now that all those pesky tourist are gone;);) Haven't been all summer and am itchin' to go!)

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  40. You are my hero. 'You collect in youth and disperse as you age.' I live with a pack rat loving yard saler, and wish I had the time/energy to undertake such a thorough cleansing. One can only use so much. It must lighten your load and warm your heart.

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  41. Congrats on a successful yard sale! I love all the connections you made and how you clearly enjoyed chatting with each of your customers. It's no wonder it was such a success. Thanks for sharing.

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  42. I love this post! Yep I understand yard sales and had my first one just before we renovated our carriage barn. It's amazing the stuff we "store" needlessly when it can go to so many others who do need it. We sold everything in that one day and it was supposed to be a two day sale. A divorced Mom who needed things bought so much I even offered to haul everything over to her new place in my truck, it was so much fun!

    Enjoy your weekend!
    XX
    Debra~

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  43. This is such a beautifully written post - you captured such a magical feeling. And I would have loved those brackets for my kitchen!!

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  44. We had our last yard sale a few weeks ago. The basement has never looked so svelte! I donate "stuff" after our sales to our local Opportunity Foundation-they employ developmentally delayed adults in their shop. Good for all involved.

    Combining two households of widowed folk is not an enjoyable task-but we did it. It took me a full year to go though ALL our stuff-and let's just say that I am not the collector here, LOL.

    Doesn't it feel lighter in your home when all that stuff makes it way out of the door?

    I'll never be a true minimalist, but the older I get, the more I embrace that concept. It's very freeing to be in control of one's things, instead of the other way around!

    Congrats on a great sale.
    How's that bedroom coming, BTW?

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  45. Steve - be proud! I am sure you made many people very happy. You come with good stuff and a very good vibe.

    Had I lived closer I would have been over in a heartbeat!

    Hugs and happy weekend to you.

    Mon

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  46. Oh, I wish I had known! Would've totally helped you with that cleaning out :)

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  47. GOSH, I am so impressed. It sounds terrifying, something that I could not do but should, living as I do with stuff piled about me. In England we have car boot sales where you cart your things to an anonymous field, set it out in the back of your car or on a trestle table and people come along and bargain. (Haven't yet managed to do that either.) The car boot sales are massive events and the police often come for a look because it is a popular way of selling on stolen goods.

    Now I'm really looking forward to seeing what you are going to put in all the new space you've created!

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  48. Wow, I wish I could have been there, it looks like you had some great stuff!

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  49. I have a friend who says my motto is buy high and sell low, but it feels good to clean out the surplus. And it is touching that you learned more than you earned. It feels good to help others. Humbling indeed.
    Best...Victoria

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  50. Great post Steve...yes...I agree. There is nothing like hosting a garage/yard sale to sharpen the art of appreciating all the good within our own lives. Thank you for the gentle reminder.
    Love,
    Tracey
    x0x

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  51. The psychology of yard sales is so interesting. A lot of people have yard sales and yet are so strongly averse to bargaining that they clearly have strong attachments to the very stuff they're trying to get rid of. I found that my most profitable garage sale was the one that I decided would be a big party — music, coffee, BOGOs, giveaways and a lot of fun.

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  52. Awesome post Steve. Yep...that's where that saying about "one's man's trash" came from Wish I coulda gone...I am sure I would've found a treasure.

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  53. Doesn't it feel great when not only are you simplify-ing, but helping other folks in the process. I admire you for giving up the microwave - I couldn't live without mine! Always find interesting subjects on your posts!

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  54. Donatella MisericordiaSeptember 9, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    Thank you for your thoughtful discussion of why people visited your yard sale. It was quite lovely and it prompted my first cooment on your blog.

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  55. Hi Steve,
    Wish I'd known. I'd have loved to stop by. I've been clearing out too. I use ebay, free curb alerts on Craigslist and donations to the library & town community center for their resale shop. I had one yard sale & it was my least favorite of the options, but you've inspired me to maybe try one again.
    Great post. You added some good insights about the yard sale experience.
    Have fun, Ruth

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  56. Good for you that you could part with it. Since I have a hoarder mentality....I keep thinking what if I need that...what if I redo my room and that is the perfect thing to make it the best room ever...and I sold it. I need help.

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  57. Steve,
    All I can say is that more people need yard sales like yours. I can only imagine it was marvelous for those who shopped.
    pve

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