Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How to Have a Successful Garage Sale

Was anybody rich in the 1970s? Of course someone must have been. But to me, the '70s are all about being scrappy, making do. Moms sewing rick-rack on the bottoms of their kids' pants so they'll last another season. Dads instructing kids to roll up the tube of toothpaste so they can squeeze out the last few dollops.

I guess this is why it seemed so '70s to have a garage sale this weekend, even though they've never really gone out of style.

I thought a garage sale would be a festive event to kick off the summer. I also thought we might rake in some decent extra cash, provided we sold a few big-ticket items along with the requisite mugs, used beauty products, old shoes, and holiday decorations.

The truth about garage sales: Mugs and skis never sell. Used beauty products do. You're likely to earn about 10 cents an hour if you figure in all the time it takes to gather your junk from the attic and basement, price everything, set it up outside, post signs around town, post an ad online, man the whole operation, tear everything down, remove the signage, and haul the unsold items to whatever charity will take it off your hands.

Who are these people who make hundreds of dollars at garage sales? What are they selling? The most I've ever made at a garage sale was about $100, and 70 percent of the take came from one large item.

Paltry earnings aside, however, the day was a huge success. It was a morning-to-night bonding adventure with our neighbors. It was kids manning their own lemonade stand - a cardboard box with a hand-written sign. It was a whole hot day outside, laughing, talking, sweating, snacking, and bargaining. 

Every time I have a garage sale, I swear it'll be the last time. We never make any real money. It's just not worth the work and aggravation.

Except it is. I'm definitely doing this again next year.

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