Wherever the Road Leads

My First-Ever Garage Sale

Parting is such sweet sorrow

This past weekend, I had my first-ever garage sale. Garage sales are an excellent idea. Yes, you make a little cash but it also forces you to make decisions about unused, un-needed articles that should have been tossed some time ago. And now, some fool is willing to pay you cash money for it.

I took the Dave Ramsay Financial Peace University course a while back. He claims that one of the best ways to bring in extra cash is to sell things around the house. It made sense but, I asked myself, what could I sell and what could I part with? All I could think of was the 400 watt amplifier I bought for my truck when I thought I might be able to install it myself.

After getting hosed at Best Buy’s Geek Squad when they upgraded my factory door speakers and after a great deal of research about truck stereos, I bought online the 4-channel amplifier, sub-woofer, sub-woofer enclosure and all the specialty wiring required to make my ears bleed and blow out the back winnder. One sunny Saturday, I dragged everything out into the driveway, prepared to begin the install. It took me no time…. to determine that this was a job for professionals, not a hack with a four-way screwdriver and a roll of duct tape.

When I got to the stereo shop, they were quite impressed with the bits and pieces that few realize are required. I had done really well on the $2.00 wiring connectors but had bought wrong on the largest piece… the amp. They could have installed the one I bought but I would have lost either left-right balance control or front-back fade control. What I needed was a five-channel and another 200 watts.

That 400 watt 4-channel still sits in its box, four years later. It was the only thing that fell into the “Dave Ramsay” category. Until I actually went into the garage. Do you know how much junk you have out there?

I sold 100′ of coaxial cable tv wire, 15′ of garden edging, a box of Cat-5 network cable, a 90% full gallon of Vegetation Killer, a hand spreader, a lawn mower that hasn’t been started in five years, a wheel barrow whose tire keeps going flat, a watering can and two boxes of Armor-All carwash wipes that I was given free when I worked at a Clorox site in Chicago. People will buy anything!

I had my garage sale along with the lady next door, who has them regularly. She has hers Friday and Saturday. I figured Friday would be dead then the madding crowd would arrive Saturday morning. Wrong.

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I asked her what time to be ready with all the stuff in the driveway, figuring 9:30 – 10:00. Batting 100… wrong again. She said 8:00am. She was wrong…. more like 7:30am. Don’t these people have a life?

They were all friendly folks, older and seemed quite happy to be sorting through other people’s stuff to work off a greasy breakfast at Waffle House. Some were Pro’s… they would always ask, “What’ll you take for it?” Well, I had spent the previous day labeling everything with prices written on masking-tape labels that I either wanted or thought I could get. After a little while, I changed my prices, increasing them by fifty cents, or making the item $7.00 when I really wanted $5.00. That gave me room to come down and the person thought he was getting a good deal.

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The money I lost on the shrewd shoppers, I partially made back by the amateurs who simply accepted what I had written.

If I sold three-quarters of the stuff, at least one-half of it went on Friday before lunch. Saturday had nowhere near the activity that I assumed it would, being the only time that I have ever gone to a Garage Sale. On Saturday, I may have sold about one quarter of my stuff, the later in the day, the more give-away the prices.

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I had flower arrangements and framed art that I thought would be among the first to go. They ended up going at a fraction of what I had listed them for and were among the last to go. Garage Sale shoppers are more-than-willing to comment, “You’ve got some really nice stuff here”, but they’re not interested in buying. I think the more broken-down and junky, the more likely to ask, “Will you take four dollars for it?”

It’s tough work, having a garage sale. I brought my laptop out to the garage and hooked up some decent speakers, then listened to Jango commercial-free internet radio all day. When that got too exhausting, I stretched out on an unsold chaise lounge dragged into the shade of the garage in order to recoup my strength for the next haggling session.

All-in-all it was a great exercise. I made some money, unloaded some stuff I wasn’t using and cleaned up my garage. Even the spider seemed happy.

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Comments

  1. Mike G  October 1, 2013

    I wish I would have known you were having one. I would have told you to hold on to the lawnmower, the wheel barrow, the amp and the box of network cable. I’m just too lazy and work too late to get up that early to go garage sale shopping. Having a garage sale takes alot of energy too. Had a couple of them over the years and don’t look forward to having another one but I know the boss lady at the house is already thinking about it.

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