The Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, some of the families who live on my road in Allenstown are planning to hold a neighborhood yard sale, where shoppers can drive from house to house and browse. I have been invited to participate in the sale, “if I have anything I want to sell.”
Anything I want to sell? Believe me, I have so much stuff, I could supply every house on my road with items if they run short.
I not only like the idea of being able to get rid of a lot of my clutter, I also like the fact I won’t have to load up my car or drive anywhere to do so. Being able to set up tables right in my own driveway and yard will be a lot easier than what I’ve had to do in the past when I rented table spaces at flea markets.
I can remember arriving at one of the flea markets, which was held in a park, and opening the trunk of my car to unload my boxes of items. Within seconds, even though the flea market wasn’t scheduled to begin for another hour, people suddenly appeared from all directions and came charging toward me like a herd of stampeding cattle. They then began to fish through the boxes, even while they still were in the trunk.
“How much is this?” one woman asked, holding up the lug wrench for my spare tire.
“That’s not for sale!” I said, eyeing another woman who methodically was flinging stuff out of the boxes and onto the ground as she searched through them.
When I finally managed to set up my tables and get everything laid out in what I felt was an eye-catching display, it took only 10 minutes for all of it to be manhandled, knocked over and unfolded, until it looked as if I’d set up my tables by flying overhead in a airplane and dropping the items onto them.
And then there were the people who were hoping for big bargains.
“How much do you want for this toy robot?” a woman with a little boy about 8 asked me.
I told her it was from "Star Wars" and highly collectible. “I won’t take anything less than $15 for it. It’s worth at least $40,” I said.
“Will you take $3.50?” she asked.
I suppressed the urge to roll my eyes. When I once again repeated I wouldn’t take less than $15, she turned to the little boy and said tightly, “Well, Adam, you won’t be getting the robot. This lady isn’t flexible like the other people here are.”
Upset about not getting the toy, the kid suddenly transformed into Damien, the devil’s spawn from the movie “The Omen.” Tiny horns sprouted out of his forehead, and his eyes narrowed into tiny yellow slits. He ran over to one of my tables and began grabbing the items and spiking them like footballs onto the grass.
“Now, Adam,” the mother said calmly, “you pick up those things and put them back on the table. Then we’ll go buy you that helicopter you wanted at the first table we went to.”
As I stared at one of my dolls lying in the grass, her satin dress wet from the dew and her hair looking as if she’d spent the night in a blender, I thought the only thing the kid’s mother should be buying for him was a pair of handcuffs.
Another problem with the flea markets and yard sales held at parks was the lack of restrooms – unless you counted the bushes. Sellers had to develop bladders of steel or risk getting poison ivy on some very sensitive body parts. So being able to sell my stuff in my own driveway, only a few feet from a bathroom, definitely will be a bonus.
The only problem I’m facing with this upcoming block-long yard sale is deciding which items to part with and how much to ask for them. I want to make as much money as possible, but I also want to keep my prices reasonable enough for people to afford. Some items, however, are more difficult to price than others.
Take what happened the other night, for example. I was watching TV and saw a consumer report about items in your house that surprisingly might be worth a small fortune. One of the examples given – a VHS tape of the original “Star Wars” movie – was worth, according to the “expert,” approximately $2,000 – even more, if the package never had been opened.
I gasped out loud. I had that tape, still factory sealed! I rushed down to the cold, damp basement, then stood and stared at the 75 giant plastic tubs stacked down there. In one of those tubs was the “Star Wars” tape, the key to my fortune. The only problem was, I had no clue whatsoever which tub.
Four hours later, I found the tape in tub number 72. By then, I was so cold, I couldn’t feel my fingers, and I was so damp, my jeans were beginning to sprout mushrooms. Clasping the precious tape in my blue fingers, I rushed upstairs to list it on Ebay so I could reap my reward as soon as possible. That’s when I noticed that other people had auctioned off the same tape the week before…and the average winning bid was only $12. I couldn’t believe I’d just spent four hours turning myself into a human Popsicle for only $12. The guy on TV, I decided, (as I called him a bunch of unprintable names) must have been talking about some form of currency other than U.S. dollars, like 2,000 yen.
So if I decide to sell that tape at the upcoming yard sale, I’m wondering what price I should put on it – closer to $12 or to $2,000? I mean, there’s a slight difference between the two; kind of like the difference between buying a burger…or a whole cow.
I’m not greedy. I’ll settle for enough to buy a filet mignon.
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