The yard sale catch and release program

Posted by Jenny in Grab Bag | 10 Comments

There was a nice mention of our blog in the comments of this post about online yard sale maps from Metroblogging Portland. (We haven’t tried any of these newfangled mapping dealybobs yet. I keep thinking we should, but I guess I’m just lazy. Plus, there are some sales that we deliberately skip based on their description, and I don’t know how easy it will be to weed these out. I guess I will get around to finding out sooner or later.)

Anyway, I had to laugh when I read this remark about us:

What I can’t figure out is what they do with all their finds. I don’t know if they run a store, or just collect things like those crazy people who have to clear out paths in their homes through the piles of newspapers and styrofoam meat liners that have been building up for years.

Well, we certainly don’t run a store, although we do resell some of our finds through various venues (often referred to as “supporting our habit”). And we are not crazy hoarders — granted, both of us do have more stuff in our homes than is strictly necessary by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s not like we’re anywhere close to this.

So, what is the deal? The junk in our trunk photos don’t lie: we bring home a lotta stuff. The reality is that much of it ends up going through what my sister termed the “yard sale catch and release program.” (Genius!) It goes something like this:

  1. Buy something at a yard sale.
  2. Bring it home.
  3. Keep it around for a while.
  4. Sell it at another yard sale.

This isn’t about reselling for profit. Occasionally I’ll price something a little higher than what I paid for it, but more often than not it’s just about the same. Knowing that something can go into a future yard sale does provide some (not entirely logical) justification for some purchases I’m not sure about. Meghan’s been known to say “Hey, if I decide I don’t want it, someone will buy it at my next sale.” And she’s usually right. I have even bought things already knowing that they will likely end up in my next sale, but somehow deciding to get them anyway. Maybe just because even if it’s not something I need to keep forever, it’s nice to spend a little bit of time with an interesting (if not objectively valuable) treasure. Until I’m done with it and ready to send it on its way.

This might be slightly demented, but we are definitely not the only ones participating in this program. More than once we’ve sold something at one of our sales, only to see the very same item again later — at the yard sale of the person who bought it from us.

Why? I don’t know. It’s kinda fun though.

10 Responses to The yard sale catch and release program

  1. erinberry says:

    “catch and release” – brilliant!

    I do the same thing but never had a good name for it until now!

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  5. DK says:


    Reading this blog makes me feel like our yard sale this weekend is kind of puny.

    We definitely don’t have boxes of decades-old coffee in our basement, or X-file videos, or books on how to grow marijuana indoors.

    The best yard sale I had was in Ireland: we took a houseful of reusable items to a market called First Friday, setting up a table along with a bunch of other people selling everything from Turkish rugs to ferns. I wish Seattle had something like that.

    Maybe you guys could make it happen?

    Thanks for the blog.

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  8. rtbs says:

    Seattle has a 2nd saturdy sale at the Sand Point complex. Its more of anshabby chic antiques show but still lots of fun stuff…more for profit…we dealers need to make a living.
    I would love to see a regular local flea market in the area. There is the Thurston County Flea in Lacey at the fairgrounds. Its a small gathering once a month with great stuff at great prices. Anyone else know of anything????

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