Everything Must Go!

Summer is winding down, which means garage sale season is winding down as well. I don’t know how it is where you live, but it seems I can’t drive 100 feet without seeing a cardboard sign with an arrow pointing me towards the sale of the century each weekend. 


Before I get into the rest of this post, let’s pause and talk about these garage sale signs.

Two tips:

  1. People are driving by, meaning they won’t read the paragraph you write in 12 pt. font with a pencil on a piece of cardboard. Use bright colors and the word “Sale.” You’re not pitching a screenplay. You’re selling crap.
  2. Make sure you spell things correctly. If I see a sign that says “Hudge  Sale” as I did a couple weeks ago, I will assume that a dictionary is not among your offerings and will only stop to edit your sign and judge you.

Let’s move on. 

If you’ve never actually put on a garage sale yourself and tried to convince people they need to buy the crap you just don’t want, allow me to clue you in as to just how much fun they can be. I conducted a yard sale myself  a couple years ago around this time and feel I’ve recovered enough to talk about my experience.

The Night Before: You stay up late making tiny price tag stickers for all the junk you’re hoping people will buy. It’s early in the game, so you’re psychotically optimistic, calculating the total value of your “inventory” at slightly over $5,000, give or take what you can get for those old curtains that came with the house you found stored in the attic. 

6: 30 AM The garage sale is scheduled to begin at 8 am, but a woman pounds on your door and tell you she “likes to get an early start.”  When you walk outside to let her “window shop,” you notice that not only is the summer weather unpredictably cold and rainy, but that there are five other cars in your driveway.

6: 35 AM One of those cars is your crazy uncle—a black belt in flea markets, weekend auctions and roaming the beach with a metal detector—who is there to help manage the situation. He immediately lays claim to a yard tool he forgot he gave you last week.

9:30 AM You’ve sold a few things, but are already annoyed with the fact that everything isn’t sold and you’re not counting your riches. A shopper offers you a dollar for your lawnmower that is brand new and not for sale.

You ask him to leave.

10 AM You look for your uncle and find him drinking Busch Light in a can and offering extras to shoppers for $1 a piece. He tells you he has sold three beers. At 10 AM.

Noon: You leave the operation in the hands of your uncle/concession seller and go inside to get some lunch. A stranger knocks on your back door and asks to try on some T-shirts for sale, and another wants to know if you have “weenies to go with the beer.”

You ask them to leave.

12:30 PM When you return to the sale, you find your uncle slightly manic because he has sold a shovel, a set of garden tools and a hose for 50 cents each. You tell him that they weren’t for sale in the first place. He replies that he wondered why there were no price tags.

You ask him to leave. Of course, he won’t.

2 PM A group of college boys will stop by and start trying on some of your clothes in the driveway, conducting their own drag queen fashion show. Your mom will attempt to stuff dollar bills into their bejeweled belts (priced at 50 cents) and your uncle will offer them beer.

They are cute. You will not ask them to leave. In fact, you will give them the clothes, a few other items and several pathetic come-hither stares.

2:30 PM You decide things are taking entirely too long and start drastically slashing prices like an overzealous mattress salesman who does his own commercials. In fact, you just start giving stuff away and find that’s entirely more fun, especially because it pisses off your crazy neighbor lady who is trying to sell a holographic palm tree for $50.

4 PM You’re done. You’ve given almost everything away. It’s hard to know what your take is for the day, because at some point your uncle  apparently sold the cash box. However, you find a dollar your mom dropped during the impromptu frat boy fashion show and seek out your uncle, who is digging through your “crap I’m throwing away” pile.

4:05 PM You buy a beer. 

4:06 PM You vow never to do this again.

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33 responses to “Everything Must Go!

  1. This is so true. Every part of it. I don’t know if it’s like this in your part of the country, but we always get people (of a certain geographical background that shall remain nameless) who roll their eyes at your already ridiculously cheap prices ($.50 for a shirt, OKAY), scoff, and spit out the words “ten cents.” Bitch please. I will GIVE my shit to the nearest thrift store before I sell it to you for ten cents.

    Also, seeing as how I basically give my prized posessions away for pennies, my end-of-the-day loot usually comes up in the $50-100 range. Once you factor in the newspaper ad fee of $25 and the donuts/ beer/ burritos you purchased and/or paid your helpers (see: family) with, that leaves a grand total of anywhere from a loss of $25 to a win of $50.

  2. Hahaha, oooh I love garage sales!

    I’ve never put one on, but I definitely think the key to those is selling food/drinks on the side..especially if you have a cute kid with a mushroom haircut selling them..(or the Amish)..works on ME every time! ..

    My biggest garage sale finds were a bird house for $1 and a Samsonite leather briefcase for $5. I didn’t buy the briefcase because I realized I’m not “that kind of professional”, but I carried it around with me for a good 15 minutes so that nobody could snatch it from me in case I changed my mind

    P.S. Your uncle really does sound like my kind of people!!

  3. You just about nailed the entire yard sale experience. I like (not really) the folks who ask if they can return something if it doesn’t fit….or the really bright people who ask if you have any baby clothes, when the sign says “No baby items” and you have children close to 40. 🙂

  4. This is so, so true. Which is why I have yet to have a yard sale since having an actual yard to hold it in. People are weird, cheap and creepy and I don’t want them on my lawn fingering my stuff.
    (Wow. That sounded icky.)

  5. I’ve never gone to one because I don’t need used baby clothes or toys but I did have one with a girlfriend 6 years ago. Unlike you, I’m not really ready to talk about it. I’ll say only this- large group of people showing up in one pick-up truck whose only intent was to steal and made off w/ a Nikon camera and a sterling silver rosary. At that point I adopted the attitude of donating everything and putting the price I wanted on it. NEVER again.

  6. hahahaha I love it! I had a garage sale before I moved and it was nuts. The weirdos at 6:30am are my favorite. It’s like all the hoarders in the neighborhood can smell used goods being placed on lawns. I remember this one lady haggling me for my Northface jacket that I priced at $30 and because I’m a total pushover she ended up getting it for $5.50. Now that I’m back in cold weather I’ll probably shell out a solid $100 for a good new winter coat.

  7. first, this honestly made me laugh.

    and i never laugh at blogs. i rarely even read them. so, yay you.

    dude, EVERY summer, my grandma had a neighborhood garage sale and i remember the four torturous days of sitting out there in that metal chair recounting my money. We had the master sheet with everyones earnings on it, of course. cus EVERYONE in the family wanted to throw their shit in there so they didn’t have to do one themselves.

    my grandma had a lot of antiques, so we’d always get the dealers coming around wanting to snoop through her house. really?

    every two hours she’d bring out a tin of fudge to sustain us. ugh

  8. I’m the kind of niave dumbass who thought people would understand that $2.00 for a worn-once-maybe ralph lauren polo was a STEAL – especially since it was like Doug Funny’s closet and I had them in nearly every conceivable color. Then, I caught people trying to literally STEAL them, went bonkers, collected all my stuff from their grubby, greedy, chubby little hands and took it inside to repackage for the local community-focused goodwill type place. The smug satisfaction I got from walking past those asshats with my loot and driving away is a feeling I will never forget.

  9. We had a garage sale last weekend and everyone ignored the tv, and other cool stuff and picked at small things. We netted only 68 bucks. We may try to have another everything must go day soon.

  10. I’ve been considering one, but procastinating due to a sneaking suspicion that the experience would turn out exactly as you described. I think I’m just going to give the stuff to charity.

    • That’s a good call. I will never do one again, mostly because I don’t have any stuff to give away, but also because it’s too much work!

  11. Awesome! We finally stopped doing garage sales about two years ago, because the work and hassle is all out of proportion to the “take.” Especially when, like us, you buy nothing and throw nothing away…we just don’t have anything anybody wants! Now we just take a load to the Salvation Army every so often.

    I will say I adore *shopping* garage sales, however. 🙂

  12. —–I am thrilled I stopped over from LBS….because this post is Fabulous. I’m tellin’ you: I love it! love it.
    Can’t you hear me giggling from MN?
    I love those Hudge Sales! seriously, I’d be afraid to go in….cause a bunch of Hillbillies would be sittin’ around without teeth like The Hills Have Eyes… im sorry ( is that politially correct?) Great Post.

  13. I can’t really beat your stories! Those are hysterical. I will tell you, however, that my grandmother once managed to harvest dried weeds from our Nebraska property, bundle them up with a piece of twine and sell them for $1 a piece at a late 80’s garage sale.

    She’d always say, “You never know what people are going to buy.”

    • That is so, so true. The stuff you think will go the fastest just sits there, while the fake flower tiara you found stuffed in the attic of your great aunt is swooped up in second. People are weird.

  14. I live for garage sales. Now that I am back home, my dad and I will go out on Saturday mornings to see what we find. He looks in the newspaper the day before to see where the “good ones” are and then we go from there. The nice thing here is that we are close to Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach so there is alot of ground to cover. I’ve found the best ones to be either church sales or community sales.

  15. I love to shop at garage sales, but abhor hosting them. Hate hate hate. Could you come and do it for me? Pretty please?

  16. OMG Abby did this happen, cause if it did, this is sitcom gold gold or box office gold , either way it’s golden. I was laughing so hard at u flirting ith the college boys (that is so something I’d do) that I dropped my drink and almost drowned my phone. Uh oh!!!!! Loved it!

  17. So true! I only recall ever participating in 2 garage sales, and yes, I couldn’t give that crap away fast enough! Great post.

  18. We had two garage sales this month. Would love for you or someone else to take all the crap that didn’t sell. It was cool…once.

  19. Ahem.
    A) Did your neighbor slang that holographic palm tree? and,
    B) Can I score that thing for a 5-dollar-bill?
    Awesome play-by-play on the garage sale…makes me want to have one of my own soon. Online only. =)

    • Sadly, she has more palm tree decor that one person should ever be allowed to own in their lifetime. I believe her “big” sale item was an elephant scuplture of sorts. I kid you not she had a $45 price tag on something I would have paid someone $5 to remove from my sight. It was hideous. It did not sell. She was pissed, but that particular palm tree went, so she went off to drown her sorrows with her profits.

  20. Garage sales are a product of the devil. Every time I have one I swear I will never have another one. And then, of course, I do the next year.

  21. Pingback: Givin A Little Bit Of My Love Away {Blunty Award Edition}

  22. Clearly, I’m never conducting one of these sales. I don’t care if you call it garage, yard, or estate (but remember when “estate sales” actually were a lil more high class? People caught on to THAT real quick).

    I don’t deal with people very well. Especially when they’re going through my stuff. Even if that is stuff I don’t want.

    Plus… I am way too old for frat boys. Worse? My libido doesn’t know it yet.

  23. Haha I love this! Hilarious! Nothing worse than garage/yard sales. They are soooo much work, and a waste of a Saturday, I think! I’d rather just bring all my crap to the Good Will and let them figure it out. Then I can relish my Saturday and my decluttered house 🙂

  24. Verrrrrrry funny, especially because my neighbor is moving right now, so I won’t be subjected to another summer of their near-professional-level-if-hobos-count-as-professionals yard sales. There are usually about 2 total weeks of any given summer during which their entire lawn is covered in make-shift tables made out of saw horses and rotten plywood. Except they never sell anything OR give it away, they just drag it in and out of the house repeatedly.

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