Come Sale Away

October 29, 2005    By: Kristen J @ 8:18 pm   Category: Life

I had my first garage sale this morning. It was definitely an interesting experience, one that I will not repeat any time soon. Oh, it wasn’t that bad, I think I just went into the experience a little naïve.

Anytime I’ve made noises about having a garage sale in the past my husband has made grumbling noises and mumbled that he thought we should just give our stuff to the needy and not try to sell it at some dumb sale. Most of the time I agreed with him and so the garage sale has always been shelved. Not today, it was a neighborhood sale and I had to get in on it.

I awoke very early and went out to the chilly morning air (chilly for Arizona which meant it was probably about 70 degrees) and started setting up my stuff (junk). I could see my neighbors down the street busily setting out their stuff (junk). I was excited, I had visions of riches. How much would I make, $500? A $1000? Oh the plans I had for all that money, new clothes, beads for my jewelry making, several wonderful family dinners at the nearest family friendly restaurants. Oh the joy!

My first few customers did not bode well for my day. First, my friend Bridgette came by on her early morning walk. She’s in my ward and I consider her my friend. She walked up and said, “Hey Kristen, I didn’t know you were having a garage sale today.”

“Yup,” I replied. “I got in on a neighborhood sale.”

She looked around a little and I said, “Hey Bridgette if you see anything you like just take it. I’m not going to charge you for anything.” She looked around a little and found a baby swing that she thought her little girl would enjoy.

Alright! My first customer and I made $0.

Shortly after that a huge truck hauling a trailer parked in front of my house and out jumped this F-Dude (sorry about the stereo-type). He immediately zeroes in on a set of speakers and a woofer I have sitting on my driveway. He walks around them, squats in front of them to really check them out and says, “Do these work?”

“I don’t know,” I reply. “I’ve had them for a while and I’m not sure what state they’re in.”

“Will you take $10 for all of it?”

“Sure, why not?” Later my husband informed me that the stereo equipment was probably the most valuable thing I had out here. Oh well.

Don’t get me wrong, I did have some very interested customers today. My own children were extremely interested in everything I put out on the driveway. I think my 6 year old was the best customer for all of my neighbors this morning. Every once in a while she would let me know that she was going to walk down the block and look at the neighbor’s sales. She would mingle and shop for a little while and eventually she would come walking back to our house arms loaded with junky stuffed animals and old play doh sets.

I’m not quite sure how she managed to finagle the neighbors out of all their stuff. I gave her about $2 early on but she managed to continue shopping throughout the day. I suspect she “borrowed” money from the little girl a few houses down. My husband eventually put a stop to her shopping when he grumpily told her she was bringing in more junk than we were getting rid of.

After today I’ve decided that I’m not cut out for sales. When ever any one would come to my driveway, browse a little and leave I had a hard time not taking it personally. I wanted to yell at them as they drove away, “What, my stuff’s not good enough for you?”

My other problem was the poor migrant workers that would come by. I felt like a huge shmuck for trying to sell anything to them. I quickly got to a point of selling them armloads of clothing for about $1. I think even that was too much.

Towards the end of the morning I told Geoff I was finished and I needed help gathering up the rest of our stuff and putting it away. He walked out to the driveway looked at the rest of our stuff (junk) and said, “Kristen, I don’t want to bring all that stuff inside. We’re just going to take it to the DI anyway. Let’s just put a free sign in front of our driveway and be done with it!”

Shortly after that some very young newly weds and a few more migrant workers came and took care of our stuff (junk) for us.

I think I made about $50 this morning. Tonight I took my family out to Burger King to celebrate (ok, after all that I was too tired to cook). My kids were in heaven and I was lucky enough to bring home some little plastic toys to add to my next garage sale.


  1. It is good to hear I amnot alone in my quest to sell household goods from the driveway. The last time we had a sale, I sold used towels to migrant workers for a dollar a piece. If I’d only had a thousand of them! Then the old videos (now that we’re dvd heavy) sold at first for two dollars a piece, then a dollar, at the end of what seemed to be a very long day (12:30) I was giving them away to whoever’d take them. Not for a long time. Geoff is a very smart guy!

    Comment by chronicler — October 30, 2005 @ 1:19 am

  2. Cartman’s version of Come Sail Away is awesome.

    Comment by Eric Russell — October 30, 2005 @ 6:40 am

  3. Isn’t it though?

    Comment by Kristen J — October 30, 2005 @ 8:25 am

  4. Oh man! I love garage sales! Usually about once a year my mom would say, “Clean out your room, we’re having a garage sale.” I can remember many times when I was young hanging out on the driveway selling stuff. Good times…good times.

    Comment by Jamie J — October 30, 2005 @ 2:06 pm

  5. I have also only ever participated in one garage sale, also a neighborhood thing. I too was uncomfortable about the whole thing, I pretty much sold anything to anyone for any price they asked and ended up thinking “Six Dollars, that’s like a dollar an hour” at the end of the day.

    I’m a big donating to DI fan.
    Operation Give is also a great place to give. It was started by an LDS solider, they send toys and kid items to Iraq.

    Comment by fMhLisa — October 30, 2005 @ 2:30 pm

  6. Thanks for the link. It’s true, after getting everything ready and sitting out there for the morning it was like a buck an hour.

    From now on it’s me and the DI.

    Comment by Kristen J — October 30, 2005 @ 2:57 pm

  7. Hi, Kristen – this is great! I loved the part about you wanting to yell at people for not buying your stuff. I’ve found that the secret to a junk free life is to live in an 800 square foot apartment. Every time I go shopping, I have to negotiate with myself as to what I’m going to have to throw away if I buy anything, so I don’t upset the precarious equilibrium of our space to stuff ratio. Although this doesn’t apply to shoes, of course.

    Comment by Elisabeth — October 31, 2005 @ 7:33 am

  8. Hey, that’s a good idea. Not just for the junk issue but also for the spending issue too. I like it.

    Comment by Kristen J — October 31, 2005 @ 7:40 am

  9. Yeah, integrating something new into such a small apartment is a bit like the fat guy in Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life” when, after gorging himself with food at dinner, he balloons up and explodes when the waiter coaxes him into eating a “wafer-thin” mint. (“Oh, sir, it’s only a tiny, little, thin one.”)

    Comment by Elisabeth — October 31, 2005 @ 8:01 am

  10. I did a yard sale once and I thought it was from hell. We just take stuff to DI and take the tax break. Although if it’s something nice, I prefer to take it to the womens’ shelter because they don’t have to buy it.

    Comment by annegb — October 31, 2005 @ 9:49 am

  11. We had a benefit yard sale back in September. We got donations from billions of people and held the yard sale at the park. At the beginning of the day, we were incredibly busy and made a ton of money. We refused to haggle because it was for charity.

    However, as we got close to the end of the sale, we took a look at the massive amount of stuff that was left and just started panicking, envisioning all of the trips to the DI that were going to be required, even with all of the trailers we had there… We started slashing prices until at the end of the sale we were literally walking around yelling “Everything is free – take whatever you want – just get it out of here!” We still had a lot of stuff left over though. We did end up make about $8,000 for flood relief so the many trips to the DI were totally worth it.

    Comment by sue — November 9, 2005 @ 10:11 am