Tuesday, June 2, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 13

Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on July 9th, 2008, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 9, Issue 17 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 9, Issue 17

Everything must go

The Art of Yard Sales


My house recently reached critical mass. My garage was bulging with old bicycles and broken car parts. My bedroom closet was bursting with clothes that don’t fit, are riddled with holes, and are out of style (not that they were ever actually in style). Each drawer in the house was overflowing with pens without ink, dead batteries, broken guitar strings, and coupons that expired back in the 1900s. In the kitchen cupboard, behind the can of yams we didn’t use four Thanksgivings ago, we had paper plates that said “Happy First Birthday”; my youngest child is now 8 years old.

Due to the disarray of my home, obviously, it was time to get rid of some stuff. Actually, that time had passed three years ago, but since the invention of the digital video disc and the release of episodes of Miami Vice to DVD, things don’t really get done around my house anymore. To avoid having to acknowledge the growing storage problem, I just kept smooshing things down deeper into the drawers and stashing things dangerously higher in the closets.

My wife, whom I love, finally had it one day after, while trying to get a towel from the hallway closet, a Monopoly game box landed on her head and then spilled out all over the floor. There were houses, hotels, and thousands of dollars in funny money strewn throughout the hallway. That was it; she was done living in a “pig sty of a house.”

We had a couple of choices. We could throw everything away, but there was no chance it was all going to fit in our garbage can. That meant I would have to make a trip to the Salvation Army (or six trips to the Salvation Army), which is just more work for me. I’m not a big fan of things like work, especially when the fate of Crockett and Tubbs are hanging in the balance while my DVD player is on pause.

The solution was to have a yard sale. Let people come to us and then offer us money for the opportunity to take our junk away. It sounded like a win-win situation. Even the kids got excited about the prospect of making a little money selling some of their old toys. It was settled, Saturday would be Yard Sale Day.

My wife ran around like a woman on a mission to exterminate clutter and junk from our house while I quickly hid my high school football trophies. Instead of helping to gather things to sell in the yard sale, I spent time making the best yard sale signs ever. My marketing strategy was to use duct tape, cardboard signs, and barely legible Sharpie text to ensure we had a steady stream of junk taker-awayers at our house all day. By noon, our house would be free of un-needed stuff, we would be rich, and I would back in the mean streets of Miami. That was the plan anyway.

I found out that people who go to yard sales get up early. In fact, they get up considerably earlier than I do. I was woken up to the sound of car doors shutting and voices on my front lawn. People were standing in my yard and I hadn’t even put anything outside yet. I got up quickly and started to cart out our wares so people could buy stuff. After about 35 seconds of my yard sale experience, I was already regretting not making the six trips to the Salvation Army. No matter how inexpensive I labeled something, everyone wanted to negotiate a cheaper price. I’m not talking about going down from $10 to $8. I’m talking about nickels and dimes.

“How much are these clothes?” someone would ask.

“Each piece of clothing is 50 cents.”

“How about 25 cents?”

“Eh … sure.” I would give up. If someone wanted to haggle over a quarter, they could have it.

If they weren’t trying to lower the price they were requesting bags to carry stuff. They were making me feel bad that I wasn’t equipped to offer them the choice of paper or plastic. One guy bought a bookshelf (for $5 on a $20 asking price) and then had the gall to ask me for some rope to tie it down to his truck. I wanted to ask the guy, “Did you see a large Home Depot sign on the roof of my house?”

One lady came up and was browsing through some of the clothes we were selling. She picked up an old pair of my daughter’s shoes and actually asked me, “Do you have these in a size 10?” I looked at her and sarcastically replied, “I’m not sure. Let me check with my manager to see if we have any in stock.”

My son had the hardest time with the entire event. He didn’t like seeing our stuff being carted away for pennies. My wife and I kept trying to explain to him that we were planning on throwing this stuff out anyway, so it didn’t matter what things sold for. But my son wasn’t having it. Even though he was personally selling toys that were still in the box, which he never once played with, he couldn’t part with the items unless he got the current retail price or above. Our yard sale customers weren’t having any of that and my son didn’t sell a thing. I think he was fine with it (I saw him sneak the toys back into his closet out of the gaze of his mother).

When it was all said and done, the stuff I thought would sell for sure, like toys, were still on my lawn, and stuff I didn’t think people would touch with a 10-foot pole, like old T-shirts, sold like hot cakes. Unfortunately, there was still enough junk on my lawn that I was going to have to make that run to the Salvation Army anyway. I learned that I like most people. I’m just not fond of them when they are standing on my front lawn at 6 in the morning trying to talk me down from a dime to a nickel for a Tupperware bowl.

Rob is currently on disc four of season two of Miami Vice, just in case you were wondering.

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