Experts agree, spring and summer are synonymous with yard sales. All over America, moms are clearing out their overstuffed closets, getting rid of old, worthless, outdated junk that no longer serves any useful purpose. And they’re not just talking about their husbands lying on the couch drinking beer and watching the Poker Channel.
They are also talking about that lime green Nehru jacket Ned Terwiller bought in 1972, which never was in style to begin with. Or that model train set that Herb Hobart’s kids last played with during the Reagan administration.
Or Nate Nagurski’s late ‘60s-era lava lamp that always leaked pink ooze. Experts are confounded as to these men are still holding onto all this crap. Remember the Latin saying, Crape Diem (“seize the crap”). Time for a yard sale.
When planning your yard sale, scour your house for things you no longer use. While it might be difficult, it may be time to sell your Big Mouth Billy Bass singing plastic fish. Let some other family enjoy the hours of entertainment it has provided to you and your drinking buddies at 3am.
A yard sale is a great opportunity to reduce the clutter and make a profit in the process – and by profit, we mean finally unloading that universal gym taking up two-thirds of your garage, which you bought seven years ago for $1,295, used precisely five times and finally offered up for sale for $499 before marking it down to $249, then $149, then $49.95, before finally settling on a $25 Starbucks gift card and a free car wash coupon. (You might want to talk to someone about your negotiating skills.)
In preparing for your yard sale, there are a few things you need to do. Enlist the kids to help out. Teach them a few things about sales and negotiations. On second thought, given your universal gym fiasco, never mind.
Step 1: Give your sixteen year-old daughter Monica a $20 bill to go to the store to buy 15 yellow signs to post around the neighborhood.
Step 2: When Monica comes back from the store with a pack of 3-inch post-it notes and a tube of Elmer’s glue, apologize for not providing clearer instructions.
Step 3: Return to the store to buy 15 large yellow signs.
Step 5: Compliment Albert on his excellent penmanship on all 15 signs, each of which now very legibly announces YARN SAIL – SIT ‘n SIN.
Step 6: Return to the store and buy 15 new pink signs (they’re out of yellow).
Step 7: Write the 15 signs yourself.
Step 8: Put the signs up all around the neighborhood two days before the sale to generate awareness.
Step 9: While driving home the night before the yard sale, look in astonishment at the freak hail storm which, it turns out, has obliterated every one of your signs.
Step 10: Repeat steps 1 through 8 in the dark, with a flashlight.
Step 11: Collect all the items you wish to get rid of. Invite the kids to bring to the garage those things they no longer want.
Step 12: Affix price labels to all the yard sale items. Might I suggest $50 is a bit steep for your leaky pink heirloom lava lamp?
Step 13: Explain to Albert that while you appreciate his help, you’re not selling his pet turtle Sheldon for $1 million or best offer.
Some things sell like hotcakes at yard sales and others don’t. Great things to put up for sale: Furniture, electronics, health and fitness equipment, bicycles, power tools, toys, and lawn & garden equipment. These will all go quickly.
Things you probably should not try to sell: Pictures of your family’s 1992 vacation to Yellowstone, anything with the words “8-Track”, “Atari”, or “Commodore 64”, anything with a Hello Kitty graphic emblazoned on it, your middle child Frederick (unless you are certain he would go to a loving home), any record album by Jim Nabors, Pat Boone or the Bay City Rollers, your 9-foot tall sculpture of Pamela Anderson you made in college with LEGOs, and finally, your 16-year-old family cat Patches (unless he no longer remembers how to use the litter box, then by all means, get whatever you can for him).
Before you open your lawn for business, be careful to clearly label anything that’s not for sale. One time, while Eugene Appleton of Sheboygan, Wisconsin stepped away to make change, his teenager was in the process of signing over the title of his Toyota minivan for $3,500 to a guy who had come by looking for hedge clippers. In retrospect, Mr. Appleton wished he hadn’t intervened. The guy actually offered a very fair price, given the transmission was about to go out.
Yard sales are an opportunity to clean out the clutter. But they are also a great opportunity to score some fantastic deals on hard-to-find collectibles. Take Albert Fendersling of Elmwood, Nebraska, an avid yard sale hobbyist. “I drove by this one yard sale and I couldn’t believe my eyes,” exclaimed Fendersling. “They actually have the complete collection of LIFE-SIZE inflatable action figures from Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace, 25 figures in all, including Jar Jar Binks and Queen Padmé Amidala. They will look awesome in our family room. I’m going to buy the whole set – for the kids. It’s all about the kids.”