Grumbling is $1 extra

Posted by Jenny in Sales We've Had | 7 Comments

Film noir yard sale

Over the years we have held plenty of yard sales (many of them predating the blog). It seems like there are a few things we can always count on …

  • We will stress out about possible weather issues.
  • We will be getting set up right up until the last minute.
  • Some early bird shoppers will act like jerks and piss us off.
  • We will have a lot of stuff, much of which is making its way through the yard sale catch and release program.
  • Meghan will have more stuff in the sale and will make more money than I do.
  • We’ll be amazed that a couple of really cool things never end up getting purchased.
  • As the day wears on we’ll start shoving more and more items into a free pile on the curb in the hope that it will all go away.
  • We will both crack up a lot and have a good time.

Stuff for sale

Our sale last Saturday pretty much fit that model. In a new twist, I actually tried to organize a block sale on my street — we only ended up with three confirmed houses, and then one of them had to back out a couple of days before the sale. Despite my misgivings about whether two houses really counts as a block sale, I listed it that way on craigslist and some of our signs — after all, it was really three households’ worth of stuff if you count Meghan bringing her stuff over. And there were a bunch of other sales in the neighborhood, so I hoped we’d get some good traffic.

Setting up

On Friday I made some signs, with help from my daughter and the neighbor’s daughter. It ended up raining on Friday evening, so we couldn’t put signs up that night. (Saturday came through with dry weather, if a bit cooler and cloudier than we would have liked.) Meghan and I got up extra-early to go put up signs. There didn’t seem to be quite enough, so I grabbed a bunch of paper and a huge marker and we ended up doing more signs in the car as we went along, following the time-honored format of “SALE” in huge letters, an arrow, and little else. (Then a few hours into the sale, I found a whole separate pile of signs I’d forgotten making. Oh well …)

Picture gallery

Around 8:00 we went back and started dragging stuff out. Of course we had a few early birds. When they pulled up, we’d politely say we weren’t ready yet; some of them were cool, some of them were jerks. Of course the Annoying Jewelry Guy that we’ve mentioned here before was one of the earliest. I took great pleasure in telling him “NO” when he asked if we had any jewelry. Meghan got into some altercation with some other guy — I didn’t hear the whole thing, but when she told him we weren’t ready yet he started ranting about how it’s not illegal for him to sit and wait in his car. He eventually gave up and drove away and by about 8:50 we figured we were set up enough to let people shop.

Shoppers peruse the goods

We didn’t have the early crush of shoppers that we sometimes see — with so many sales going on I think people were pretty spread out as far as what their first stop would be. For the first hour or so it was a steady but manageable stream. After that we had some lulls, but most of the time we had people shopping. Most of them were friendly and we had quite a few friends stop by to hang out and/or buy stuff (or take stuff we forced on them for free). My neighbors had a smaller spread but they sold almost everything they put out and seemed pretty happy with how it went.

The catch-and-release activity was pretty intense. Remember the estate sale with the cellar full of old wine? Meghan decided to let her 1958 bottle go.

Wine and other detritus

I told her if it was still there in a couple of hours we’d have to crack it open and pour a glass. It’s probably a good thing that someone came along and purchased it as an oddball gift for her father. She also bought a Vera tablecloth and told me some wacky story about one of Vera’s relatives, a butch lesbian musician with a house full of Vera stuff that doesn’t quite seem her style.

Spread of stuff

A while later Meghan noticed a book scanner doing his thing on our book pile. She made a comment about how she wasn’t really into having people use scanners at the sale and he snidely asked, “Well, do you want me to leave?” Without missing a beat she said, “Yes, I think I would.” He skulked away quietly. A few hours later (when anything halfway decent had to be long gone) another guy started scanning, so we started BOOPing and BEEPing at him like Meghan and Karl had done a couple weeks back. Next time we have a sale we are going to put our price stickers right over the bar codes on all the books and CDs.

I have to say that Meghan was in fine form all day. Shortly after telling the scanner to leave, some guy came along wanting to get a deal on one of Meghan’s items — she said she couldn’t lower the price on that particular item, and he made some crabby reply. She told him grumbling was gonna cost him an extra dollar. I think he ended up paying the stickered price.

A few people did ask for ridiculous discounts (offering $1 for something priced at $8, or complaining over items priced at a quarter), but we did give a lot of deals on stuff that was already priced very reasonably. I gave a couple discounts that I sort of regretted later (especially on one of Meghan’s few unpriced items when she was out getting coffee — I felt bad about that), but all in all I was happy to make things go away.

And of course, there were some items where seemingly no price was low enough.

2 Ski Racks

These Hefty garbage bags with the Mobil gas log on them didn’t go either — we thought for sure someone would grab ’em for the novelty value.

Hefty Garbage Bags - by Mobil

And most of the vintage fabric pieces were still left at the end of the day.

Bin o' fabric

We also kept thinking someone would need to own this square dance sign Meghan had decided to part with. I decided if it was still there at the end of the day I’d grab it — it’s now sitting in my office.

Square Dance For Fun

My friend Pat showed up and I gave him the “My Chinese Wife” book I’d purchased with him in mind way back in May of last year. Our friend Irene was with him and she purchased a few items, including a wireless electronic rabbit that wiggles its ears and tells you the weather or some shit like that. Meghan had purchased this at a sale some time ago — I could swear we blogged about it, but I can’t find the post anywhere.

Dog and rabbit

Before she left I talked her into taking one of the two punch bowl and cup sets I had in the sale. (I have not served punch in something like eight years.) As she walked away she joked about having to go and take a picture of the stuff in the trunk — I laughed, but then later that day she sent this!

Junk in Irene's Trunk

Our junk in someone else’s trunk = awesome. Especially with all that quality photo-styling.

And maybe I’ll end this post with a few of our own trunk shots — featuring some of the items that we sold here, back when we first bought ’em. Here’s some of that vintage fabric, black and white snakeskin box, My Chinese Wife, the bottle of wine, one of the framed pictures, another framed picture (the one with the cows), and the round lamp (seen being held by a shopper in one of the pics above). Plus, I found three or four other trunk shots with items we sold but hadn’t photographed. When we say we do the yard sale catch and release program, we aren’t messing around.