Monday, August 30, 2010
I had a yard sale this past weekend.
First of all, I have to state that my wife does not like yard sales.
Secondly, we are geographically challenged. I continually chant, 'sidewalks, sidewalks, sidewalks,' as I envision of a life of walking out the front door, onto my sidewalk that leads to shops and cafes, to new stands and stores, to bars and galleries, and more, without having to get into a car and drive an hour for any one of those. I know there would be more people connections and interactions and, in contrast to the poor attendance at my yard sale this weekend, most likely more traffic both by foot and car to suck up my treasures!
About twelve cars worth of 'shoppers' came by over two days. Day one, Saturday, was the better of the two days with about ten gawkers; Sunday only two cars full. All in all, for the week or two worth of sorting and pricing, and the time setting up and tearing down, about the only thing I gained was 25% more muscle mass and a sincere appreciation for throwing things out.
With that said, there is something I don't understand. Why don't people just love everything that I've put out there? The fact that those bunk bed frames look like they were well used for over 15 years shouldn't detract from their sturdiness and future support! The various pieces of china, mugs, cups and saucers and numerous plastic things (I think they're plastic, what came before plastic?), served us well and the fact that they are mismatched, missing their accompanying matching piece or need a little cleaning (okay, there were packed away in a tote for eight or ten years) doesn't mean they aren't functional...they should have been swooped up by any one of those who showed up. When I bought all of those toys for the kids, they were collectibles. "Dad, these will be worth thousands of dollars some day, I have to buy it, please, please, let me buy it. I'll take good care of them, I promise, please, please!"
Did I mention that I asked the boys to help me with the yard sale. Thought they could be a part of the unloading of all of these 'collectibles' and be here to help me carry the money inside. No, they were, "Busy this weekend, sorry. Maybe next weekend." Off they went. They checked in on Sunday after the fact. I told my wife it was safe to call them to let them know all was done, after I put the last tarp away. I went in the house and heard my wife yell, "Funny! Guess who's here?" Sure enough, one drove it almost on cue. "How'd it go?" I apprised him I didn't sell any of his stuff and it was now piled in the middle of his room so he could deal with it. Not that he could tell the difference from the piles that are all ready there.
Back to the event. Books, books, who doesn't need books? Some tattered, some well worn, but they're books...they always have value and the fact that only one sold only means that they were passed up due to appearance rather than content....a fairly shallow appreciation by the audience, I think.
I knew I was going to score a sale when the couple arrived with three small kids. They headed for the pile of 'formerly loved toys' and each picked up something and looked longingly at their parents, "can we get this?" "Ask the man how much!" They looked at me, "50 cents." They looked back at dad, "Deal," he said. They picked up another toy and the total soared to $5.00.
Of those who came, some were looking for fishing gear (only had one rod and the youngest still uses it, but I offered to rent it to him), or sapphire glass (I only have glass from McDonalds and the jelly company and it all has pictures on it, and they are mostly cartoon characters...they're collectibles, you know, and will be worth thousands some day!). Another wanted stamps. I told him, "No, no stamps here, but if you need one to mail something I have one in the house I can sell you." He just looked at me briefly and then walked away. A single woman noted, "My daughter just moved into an apartment and I'm looking for stuff to fill it up." I pointed to everything and said, "Help yourself, this filled our house nicely." She took a harmonica. It's nice to know her apartment will be filled with music.
Met the neighbors down the street who arrived with a couple from Costa Rica. I was impressed. I commented to one that I was amazed that they came all the way from Costa Rica for my yard sale! "Yes," he said, "It's all of that international marketing you're doing!" (Need to note that for the next yard sale, not only road signs on the contiguous roads within five miles to try to direct people here, but also London, Paris, Moscow, South America, Beijing and Iceland, to start with!)
A couple of old bottles, two boy scout belts, a school carry bag, and a refrigerator magnet filled out the day's sales.
I closed down a couple of hours early on Sunday, recognizing the fact that people thought they had better things to do, got 'saled-out' on their way here, or the economy had dealt a deathblow to lawn topped resale efforts. I wonder if Wall Street has taken note of that.
Most of all, as I put some items out by the road next to a "Free Stuff" sign, I was depressed that those who did come didn't see the grand value of all that lay before them. Years of care, items carefully tucked away to sleep for a decade or more, things that once served us faithfully or entertained us or the boys for hours on end, sat untouched. The grime or wear was, quoting Charlie Brown as he looked at his friend Pig Pen as the dirt shook off him, "History." If people only understood the time, effort and love given each item they would have gladly paid the buck and taken the treasure home.
Oh well, the house is a little lighter. I've boxed up some stuff to give away, but was very careful to tuck away a couple of totes full of 'treasures' for the next yard sale...you know, the ones that people, if given the chance, will desire for their 'soon to be valuable' value. I can't throw them away, you know, "They're going to be worth thousands!"
After the big sale, the wife and I went for a drive. I had to pick up the sign I posted five miles down the road, we were going to stop somewhere for dinner, and she wanted to drive south a bit to check out a marshland where people take their kayaks. She wants to do that some day and I look forward to writing about those adventures.
I stopped at the corner, grabbed the sign, and put it in the back of the wagon. It was standing up and the top two lines were visible from the back window, "Yard Sale. Sunday, August 29th." We drove eight miles down the road, after getting gas at the corner store, and decided to swing into McDonald's for a quick burger and shake, to go. Just as we grabbed our treats from the serving window, prepared to pull away, a guy jumped out of a pickup truck behind us and waving and yelling at us, "Sir, sir, just a minute." He came up to my wife's side of the car, as I was driving, and said, "Where is it? Where is the yard sale," "Huh," I said? "We've been following you all the way from the gas station and are wondering where the yard sale is." "It's over," my wife said, "It was in Kerhonkson, but it's done." He replied, "My friend there in the truck, he's a flea market freak and we thought we were following you to a yard sale. Bummer."
My wife just shook her head. In the rear view mirror, I could see the guy in the truck behind us just laughing and shaking his head. We said, "Sorry," one more time and then pulled away. What was that about? Had I thought twice about it, I would have opened the trunk and tried to sell the leftover clothing that I'll now be hauling around for a couple of weeks...darn, missed that opportunity!
As we pulled onto the main road, to head off to the marshland, I pointed out to my wife, "Look, yard sale. Should we stop?" "Only if you're dropping stuff off," she noted and, sipping on her milkshake (which wasn't in a collectible glass by the way), she pointed straight ahead and said, "Just drive."
Posted by Paul Cunningham at 8:47 AM