There are so many ways to say it, and so many things to apply the concept to but you really have to clear the old to make room for the new. Change is such an inherent aspect of being human.
It seems having a garage sale is, for me, a great way to flush out my life and invigorate it with newness.
I don’t have garage sales often. And honestly, I strongly dislike prepping for them and actually doing them is a major strain on me as well for a number of reasons in a number of ways. But it just so happens both times I’ve done a garage sale have resulted in so much good coming out of them, they’ve been deemed Totally Worth It.
My first garage sale I did the year before last. And maybe a garage sale every other year is a good thing for me. Just enough time to accumulate enough stuff to make it worth the agony perhaps.
Yesterday was my second garage sale. I’ve been working on it for days. I’m pretty detail-oriented when it comes to garage sales and I always feel like I just don’t have enough time. This time, I felt way more prepared than the last time but it was still pretty taxing.
We cut the string and opened just after 9:00 AM. In my city, there’s a regulation that forbids beginning the garage sale earlier. But we had a ton of stuff and so we roped off the driveway while we set up. Some people were not amused and a couple were extremely pushy but thankfully I had a couple of friends who made awesome bouncers too. When we were (mostly) ready, we got going. The vast majority of the little to mid-size things went really fast, probably in the first couple of hours.
Those are the most tedious to deal with but my friend, The FacePainter, was on-hand and she was awesome. She loves garage sales and just knew what to do and how to make it work really smooth. I think most of the transactions that included the small things were handled by her.
The bigger items, furniture, went in the afternoon. And it almost all went.
Best part of the day, maybe even week?
A woman pulled up and was eying my dining room set. “How much for the dining table?” she asked. “Twenty bucks,” I said, “with the chairs.” She started crying and hugged me. She thanked me and told me I had no idea what I was doing for her. She then spotted a sofa I had in the back. “How much is the sofa?” she asked. “Also twenty bucks,” I said. The smile on her face was SO bright. I told her she could have both for $35 but she said no way and paid the full amount.
She ended up telling me the super brief version of her story. It was something along the lines of her being sick for a very long time, being unable to work consistently for years, and everything in her house becoming severely neglected as a result. The stuff she was buying from me was stuff that was her taste and that she could actually afford. She was so happy. She also ended up buying a nightstand for $5 and some clothes we were selling at a quarter each. She bought a couple of items for her granddaughter who was with her too and some of the avocados I had picked that day.
That’s the thing I like about garage sales. I was glad things I was letting go of were able to help her, to make her feel better. It’s amazing when you see the ripple of effect of charity or good deeds.
There’s a reason I was selling my dining set and for as cheap as $20.
On Saturday, I got a phone call from my Aunt. I had told her I was having the garage sale because in purging my closet to the bare bones, I found a bunch of clothes that I had barely worn which were way too small for me but would likely fit my goddaughter (who funny enough had just donated a bunch of shoes to me not that long ago). She was super excited about my having a garage sale because she was de-cluttering as well. She wanted to donate the items to me but she wanted to know if I was allowed to sell furniture at my garage sale. Of course I was.
Well, in that case, she wanted to know if we could think of a way to get her dining set to me because they wanted to change. They’d had it for years and they hardly ever used it because they had it set as the formal dining room and was too out of the way.
I told my aunt that yes my garage sale allowed furniture to be sold but if she was just going to give it to me to sell so I could have the money, I was going to keep it for myself. I told her to send me a picture because I wanted to be sure I was thinking of the right dining set and that I hadn’t confused it with something I had seen somewhere else. Sure enough, this is the picture that arrived in my inbox. Note: This is the dining room in her house, not mine!
It includes the table, the chairs, and the buffet. I love it. It’s so beautiful. And there’s no way I could afford a set like that any time soon. Just no way. The set I had was a $150 bargain from IKEA that I built all by myself. It was nice and modern looking but it was showing signs of wear. And that was fine, because I have kids and I know that’s just what they do, but this was too wonderful to pass up on. My uncle decided since I was going to keep it, he’d arrange one of his delivery guys to bring it to the house for me some time this week.
And that’s the way I ended up being able to sell my dining set to this woman who was so very grateful for the chance to improve her situation as well. Ironically, the sofa she bought was the same sofa my Aunt had donated to my Grandmother who then donated to me when I was between couches a couple of years ago. Good deeds lead to more good deeds somehow some way.
Clearing out the old summons in the new.
A new (to me) dining set isn’t the only stuff I received in the course of the garage sale. Funny enough, I cleaned out two closets: Eldest’s and my own. My friend brought a bunch of clothes to the garage sale– clothes from her sister and clothes from her boyfriend’s co-worker. The sister has a son slightly older than Eldest so I found heaps of clothes in Eldest’s size and a lot of it perfect for a Miami winter. I couldn’t believe it! And her boyfriend’s co-worker is a shopaholic who apparently runs the gamut in sizes because there was everything in there from size 0 to size 8. I’m in the size 6 to 8 part of the spectrum these days which was my closet was empty and depressed.
Not anymore! I got a gorgeous wool coat, some beautifully tailored suit jackets, a couple of great dresses, a beautiful top that is perfect for New Year’s, and sweaters (which I had purged very rigorously).
And I was able to keep the good vibes going forward. I found an absolutely stunning 100% silk blouse that I just knew was my grandmother’s style. I had her try it on and she loved it. She was so excited about her little garage sale gift.
We also got a free TV from the Boyfriend who moved in this week. It just became too difficult for him to continue paying rent and child support and car insurance and other bills on unemployment. So he’s with us until his situation improves. The TV is in the kids’ newly cleaned out and reorganized play room. They’re going to flip out when they see it today.
When everything was done, I counted out the money. I made $334.75. I dumped the $1.75 that was in quarters into Tinsel the Christmas Pig, put $4 into the Worlds Finest Chocolate envelope since we sold some of those, put $24 aside for field trip money, and was left with $305.
I promptly found a Christmas themed container and dumped it in there properly jump-starting my Christmas shopping fund.
I don’t think of myself as a Garage Sale Guru but I will tell you the Top Three things that worked for me:
- Price everything clearly. I found a pack of neon color dots at Walgreen’s that, paired with a black Sharpie, worked wonderfully.
- Price everything at your lowest price point. Remember, if you have an item for sale in a garage sale it is because you have made the decision this item no longer belongs in your life. The ultimate goal is to get rid of it. I don’t give items that don’t sell a second chance and I don’t think you should either. If it doesn’t sell, I pack my car and immediately deliver it to Goodwill. I immediately post the large items on Craigslist’s Free Section and put them on the curb. When I say, “Everything must go” I mean it, and you should too. It’s better to get the quarter for it at the garage sale than the zero you get for it at Goodwill. Besides, it also goes much faster when it’s priced super cheap. The less time you’re out there, the better. I actually didn’t do this for my furniture items and wish I did because I don’t think I would’ve been out there as long!
- Price things as uniformly as possible. For instance, you can have clothing split into four categories– 25 cents, 50 cents, 75 cents, and a dollar. Put all of the 25 cents stuff together and label it clearly. Do the same for each bin and put some separation between them so things don’t get mixed together too much. Maybe do the bin of 25 cent clothing, a bin of kid shoes, a bin of 50 cent clothing, a bin of purses, a bin of 75 cent clothing, a bin of adult shoes, a bin of dollar clothing, and a bin of belts, ties, and hats.
I know the rest of the United States is entering the unfriendly weather season but tell me about your past garage sale experiences or plans for future ones! I really want to become a garage sale shopper. I said it last time I had a garage sale and never did it. This time really reminded me how much I should at least try it, especially when I got the chance to shop my friend’s goods! What turned you on or off to garage sales?