Monday, March 16, 2015

The Yard Sale

One of the good things about going to France is that it is prompting us to simplify.  We've spent the past two months trying to figure out how to reduce the amount of clutter in our house so that the house looks bigger for potential renters and we have less stuff to store while we are in France. Bronwyn has done most of the work, but all of the older children have been summoned back to the house to sort through their possessions.  Each of us made piles of things that we couldn't part with, things that we would part with for a price (yard sale items), things that should be given to a charity and things that could be thrown out or recycled. (Some of us have secretly rescued things from the discard piles of others.)

In the short term, the result of our effort to de-clutter was to take items that were cleverly hidden in lots of nooks and crannies and spread them out in almost every room of the house. At one point, items were spread out for sorting in every room except the living room, which we preserved as our one haven from the storm of clutter.  When we moved all of our clutter away from the walls we realized that we really needed to paint some of the rooms, which in the short term led to further chaos.

The good news is that after a two-day yard sale, the amount of clutter is starting to lessen although we might have sold even more if it hadn't rained on Saturday.  I am still perplexed about what sold and what remains.  At 5:30 a.m., the professional pickers arrived with large wads of cash and they bought entire tables of items that we probably priced too low (my guess is that the same items will be sold at a flea market next week at twice the price).  Fortunately, we had plenty of inventory that we could use to restock the tables.  As the morning progressed, we had a mixture of shoppers.  Some people carefully researched values on the internet before haggling for the best bargain.  Others purchased items at the posted price that I was prepared to trash or give to charity if they didn't sell.

Late at night getting ready for the yard sale.

What did we learn from the yard sale?

  1. Advertising is key - Bronwyn advertised through Craigslist,, email, and signs. The best thing she did was to make it clear that we would have the yard sale "rain or shine." Several people told us that they came to our yard sale in the pouring rain because we were the only yard sale that made it clear that the yard sale would happen regardless of the weather.  We were fortunate to have a large carport where we could hold spread out the items out of the weather.  We covered the open sides of the carport with large tarps.
  2. Old area rugs, rusted file cabinets, and furniture sold (to our surprise).  Stuffed animals sold surprisingly well (at three for a dollar).
  3. Books didn't sell as well as we expected.  Clothes didn't sell very well.
  4. Kitchen items and classic children's toys sold well.  Complicated and expensive German building sets didn't sell.  (Everybody wanted to know if we were selling Legos but I couldn't part with them ... because the grandchildren will want to play with them.
  5. We should have had more electronics out to sell.
  6. Lock the doors to the house.  Although the yard sale was outside only, people walked into the house whenever we left the doors unlocked.
  7. We should have planned on a two or three day yard sale from the beginning because once you get everything out, you just want to keep selling until everything is gone.
  8. Schedule the Salvation Army pick-up truck for the day after the sale.
  9. We should never have accumulated so much stuff and/or we should have started having yard sales years ago.
  10. The people who come to yard sales are really nice.  We had a great time talking to everybody even though some people were relentless in their efforts to negotiate a better price.

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