Yard sales on TV: so many questions

Posted by Jenny in Grab Bag | 6 Comments

I happened to watch Oprah last week (which is not all that regular of an occurrence!) and it was about this woman who had a serious hoarding problem. She had a huge house that was filled up to a truly alarming level. I guess she just really liked to go shopping … then she would come home and have nowhere to put any more stuff, so she’d just pile it on up on top of the already huge mounds of past purchases. It was definitely out of control.

De-cluttering guru Peter Walsh was there to help her get as much stuff as possible out of the house (which required a vast team of helpers) and to motivate her to stop buying so much stuff. There’s a summary of the whole episode, along with a whole bunch of scary photos, over here. (Here’s just one shot from the cluttered house. Yikes!)

The amount of stuff they took out of her house was amazing — it filled up a 10,000 square foot warehouse. When I saw the stuff all laid out I thought, that looks like a huge-ass rummage sale! And it turned out they did hold a sale with it all — making something like $13,000. (Which is a heck of a lot, but I actually would have guessed it’d be even more.)

Now I keep wondering about the people who went to the sale. Did they know it was for TV? Did they know it was Oprah? And did they realize that all of the stuff came from just one person?

It wasn’t really the kind of sale I would have liked to go to, since it was all newer stuff that seemed pretty ordinary. But I think if I knew the sale was for some TV show I’d want to go — not for a chance to be on TV so much as just to see how these televised sales are run.

I started getting curious about this a while back watching Clean House. On that show, the hosts convince people to get rid of a bunch of their junk (which is often quite the emotional ordeal), then they sell it all in a yard sale. They always show some of the people who come and buy stuff, often debating over purchases or haggling over prices. I’m just curious how it all works. Do they make everyone who shows up at the sale sign a release? Will they let you just shop and not be on TV or is it a package deal? Are there people who repeatedly seek out these sales — fans of the show, fans of the sales (seems like they let stuff go for cheap), or people looking for a few seconds of fame? And do people ever buy stuff they don’t really want just because they think they might get to be on TV?

While searching for answers to these burning questions, I found an online listing for one of the show’s recent sales. I imagine it may be taken down soon so I’ll just reproduce the text here. I’ve removed the address and date, but I assure you that the rest is just as it was written.

HUGE YARD SALE!!!!! Clean House is coming to your neighborhood! We will be taping an episode of the Style Network’s home makeover TV program at (address, date, and time). Get great deals on Furniture, Baby Clothes, dolls and lots lots more!!! IT’S GOING TO BIG!!!!!! And SUPER AMAZING!!!! You might even find yourself on TV! Clean House host Neicy Nash, will be there!!!

Let me just say that this ad doesn’t exactly exude professionalism. (“IT’S GOING TO BIG!!!!!!” And they misspelled Niecy … ) However, seeing this ad brings up yet another question: does anyone ever lie in their L.A.-area yard sale ads and pretend that their sale is for Clean House (or some other TV show) to try and get more shoppers there?

Oh, the mysteries of televised sales …

6 Responses to Yard sales on TV: so many questions

  1. LynnW says:

    Several years ago, I did happen upon a yard sale hosted by Clean House, perhaps in its first season. It was in the L.A. suburbs, in a rough part of town. I believe the cameras were rolling. I did purchase a couple items from the first yard sale guy, Alan Haft(sp?) and he was very personable. No one approached me with a release form, and I haven’t a clue if I appeared on the show. I chatted a bit with the owner of the house and that was that. What I can tell you is that the asking prices are higher at a Clean Sweep yard sale than what you’ll find at the usual yard sales. Now that the show’s stars are part of the draw and they attract more buyers to the sales.

  2. Jenny says:

    Oh my god! I am so thrilled to get your first-hand report. Thank you!!

  3. Maria says:

    ok i was so fascinated by that hoarding episode on Oprah that I had to watch it twice. it kind of made me laugh to see her run once she realized the cameras were there.

  4. Pingback: Yard Sale Bloodbath » Rummage sale of the damned

  5. KT says:

    When in public, you give up any reasonable right to privacy, so it’s unlikely those people would have to sign a release.

  6. Susan says:

    Jenny, seems like this is quite some time ago you were interested in this yard sale thing. I went to a Clean House yard sale which had been advertised in the paper and drew people in because it was for the show. I was one of the people who was taped haggling for an item for sale. I had to sign a release.