I’m done with holding garage sales, and I mean it this time

Sunday, September 1, 2019
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My Turn

Saturday I held my lastever yard sale. Again.

Over the years I’ve probably had six or seven of them, and every time I have sworn “never again.”

Yet somehow swearing off them isn’t working.

Despite the hours, days and weeks of pre-sale work, the frantic stress of trying to open on time, the “oh my gosh, we ran out of ones” moments, the long day of haggling and the hours of post-sale clean up work – despite all that, I find I have once again uttered those cursed words: “We should have a yard sale.”

It must be like having a baby – over time one forgets the pain and agony involved, and agrees to have another one.

The idea of another sale sneaks up on you. First you trip over the too-large living room chair for the umpteenth time. Then you discover you can’t cram anything more into the tool shed, or the garage or the guest room. When the stack of 27 nearly identical t-shirts falls off the closet shelf three times in five minutes, you have had it.

“This stuff has got to go,” you announce. “We are having a garage sale.”

Don’t do it. It is never as easy as it sounds.

Let me remind you of the reasons you swore off garage sales last time.

1) You have way more unwanted stuff than you think you do.

Yes, the oversized recliner, circa 1985, does not fit in the living room. Yes, it is past time to change out Great Aunt Mergatroyd’s painting of fruit in a bowl (or is that ducks?) for actual, recognizable art. I know these items are what came to mind when you thought, “yard sale.”

But once you start critically reviewing closets, drawers and shelves, I guarantee you have hundreds, perhaps thousands, more unwanted items, every one of which must be assessed and probably needs cleaning or possibly even repair before the sale.

You already have a job. You don’t need to spend your evenings and weekends cleaning, gluing and stitching things you no longer want.

2) The question of what should be sold is one that will divide your family.

This is especially true of broken tools (men) and too-small items of clothing (women).

He needs to keep that thing-a-ma-bob with the broken whosy-whatsit, in case he ever figures out how to repair it, while she needs to keep those size 8s in case she ever drops back to her pre-baby weight.

The silent battles rage, with one or the other surreptitiously adding to, or removing from, the stack of items to be sold. Tempers flare.

All of this over things you had forgotten you owned, and which have been shoved in the back of shelves and closets for decades.

It’s not worth the relationship stress, or the cost of marital counseling.

3) Pricing and haggling over prices will drive you crazy.

Initially you will take a harsh stand: “We have too much junk. Everything must go,” you declare.

But somehow, in the hours before the sale, that “junk” takes on the shimmer of hidden desires.

Five dollars for Great Aunt Mergatroyd’s painting? What were you thinking? She might be an undiscovered giant of the art world, and anyway, that frame is surely an antique.

No, you find yourself telling a would-be buyer – you can’t take anything less than $25 for it.

This is the point at which your family will be forced to conduct an intervention, requiring you to write 500 times on a piece of paper: “The goal is to get rid of the stuff.”

4) No matter how early you start getting ready, you will not have enough time.

Garage salers take to heart the saying, “the early bird gets the worm.” If your sale starts at dawn, they will be there earlier.

You will be trying to unpack boxes and hang up clothing while surrounded by people snatching items from your hands, carrying them around for a few minutes and putting them down somewhere else, all the while asking you questions about the provenance of everything you own.

Herding cats? This is more like herding weasels. Intently hungry weasels searching for prey.

5) Just when you think you are finished and the sale comes to a close, you realize you have hours of work left packing up the things that didn’t sell, and deciding whether to keep them, throw them out or take them to the thrift store. Apparently there truly is no rest for the weary.

Yard sales are exhausting, stressful and emotionally draining. Anyone who has ever held one knows this, so why do we keep doing it?

The short, and very insidious answer is: Because people will pay you to haul away the stuff you don’t want any more.

Garage sale, anyone?

Deb Hill is the editor of the Lewsitown News Argus. She can be reached at editor@lewistownnews.com .