Wednesday, August 09, 2006

One man's trash

Every ten years, we have a garage sale.

It didn't exactly start out that way, and we didn't exactly plan it, but 10 years ago, shortly before we moved from there to here, we had a garage sale. Last weekend, we had another one. The good Lord willing, it will be 10 years before we have another.

I'm a big fan of "donate it and take the tax deduction", but with children growing up and moving on, we suddenly seemed to have quite a few "larger ticket" items that might just bring in a significant amount of cash.

The truth of the matter is - we're not fond of Texas camping. Lots of camping equipment in the garage, but unless global warming takes a sudden backstep and large spiders all suddenly migrate 500 miles south, the chances of us actually tent camping again any time soon are small. No, not small. Nonexistent. In addition, the days of floating pool toys and blow-up riding pool animals are pretty much over. If we go to the pool, it's for a few quick laps to get the heart rate going, then home for a shower. No lounging around on the purple inflatable shark.

And the large axe. Over 3 feet long. Where did it come from? We can't quite remember. Why do we have it? We're not quite sure. Have we ever, EVER used it? No. What's it worth? Who knows?

So, 6 weeks ago, I started assembling "stacks" which quickly took over the dining room. Games rated for ages 4-12. Jigsaw puzzles which had been built once. Sleeping bags, bed sheets, foam camping mattresses, blankets (so much sleeping gear...why am I so tired in the mornings?).

In a fit of goodwill, I offered a friend the chance to "pitch in" some items of her own. Just mark them and bring them over! The newspaper ad was placed, the stacks were sorted and brightly colored, pre-printed stickers were purchased at the office store and liberally applied. Signs were made ready to post, leading the masses to our front yard emporium.

Note: the printed stickers have adhesive about equal to melted chocolate. Sticks where you don't want it. Peels off of anything that actually requires the sticker.

And did they come? Oh, yes.

The sale was advertised as being from 8-1 on a Saturday. The boys were informed that they WOULD be available by 7 AM for setup. Profits would be liberally shared, it was in their best interest to be interested, but they WOULD be there. And they were. At 7 AM, we began to move tables and merchandise outside. At 7:15, the first customer arrived and began to sort through the clothing. We pointedly ignored her, after all, the sale didn't begin until 8, but she didn't mind. By 7:40, she had plenty of company and we gave in and began to take money.

What sells?

Blue jeans. Any size, any gender. As I watched a dozen pairs snapped up in the first 20 minutes, I wondered at the ethics. I had priced them at 2 and 3 dollars. They weren't fancy, they probably came from Target. They were "whole", but certainly not new. The men who bought them had a tired, defeated air about them. Who was I to take their $3 for something that was worth nothing to me?

What sells?

Electronics. Anything black, rectangular and with a cord. By 9 AM, we had sold 2 TV's, a computer, a PlayStation, VCR player, DVD player and a hot air tool for melting embossed plastic craft designs.

What sells?

Inflatable plastic pool toys. A delighted young man carried away the blow-up shark. May it bring him joy, and live to swim around pools for years to come.

Sales were fast and furious. I wore a pocketed apron with cash and coins stashed in the pockets and made change as fast as I could. Dave, Alex and Isaac all did quick mental addition, took bills and returned change. I'm sure there were errors made. I hope they were all in the favor of the customer. Lower prices were offered and in general, accepted on the spot. Children sorted through our old toys and were delighted by parents who offered to buy "anything you want for 50 cents". An entire bin of Star Wars action figures went for $30. Undoubtedly, those figures are on ebay now and someone is making a killing...but they're out of our closets, and I'm happy.

By 11 AM, the crowds had dispersed and we were down to the dregs. People continued to show up, drive by, take a look, and move on. Tents, we discovered, are not in great demand. Evidently no one else likes large spiders, either.

At 12:30, we began to sort. "Return to friend, unsold". "Keep this, after all" (a VERY small pile...I was ruthless!). "Trash can" and "Load in the car and take to Goodwill". At 1 PM, the van was loaded with the leftovers. May someone use them well.

The cash was counted, accounted and divided. We did well. All are richer than they were. It was a profitable day.

There's just one question left unanswered. WHERE is the axe? No one remembers selling it. No one remembers SEEING it after 7:30 AM. But it's sure not there, now.


Veronica in Aus said...

Ha! Did one of your axe-murdering internet friends drop by, by any chance??? :D

The Biscuit Scraps said...

Heh, heh, heh....must have been a plot from an SS Sister to "get the AX". Glad it was a success!!

agent713 said...

LOL V, that's what I thought!

Congrats on the sale Jean! I'm glad it was successful for you.