#336: Garage Sales

IMG_20141031_171118RECORD STORE TALES Mk II: Getting More Tale
#336: Garage Sales

I used to love garage sales and yard sales as a kid; both going to them and having them.  As a buyer, you never know what cool things you will find at a garage sale, from books to gadgets to movies.  As a seller, it’s a quick way to de-clutter your house and liquidate junk that’s sitting around.  In our last few garage sales, I made several hundred dollars and cleaned out a ton of space.

It’s a lot of work, packing up the stuff and getting it organized, priced and displayed.  Making and putting up the signs.  Creating online ads.  Opening for business.  But you’re not here to read about the tedious aspects.  You’re here for the stories.

Some of the most irritating people on this Earth are the early-morning hard-core garage salers.  They scour the newspaper ads each week and want to be first to arrive.  Since I live in a condo, the last bunch of garage sales we’ve held were at my parents’ house.  I would drive over early on the Saturday morning to open up for business.  I’d arrive around 6 or 6:30, in order to open up at 7, our advertised time.

I remember driving over on that lovely summer morning, still dark outside, and seeing a dude sitting in his car on the side of the street.  “He can’t be here for the sale,” I said to myself.  “I advertised that it starts at 7:00.”   But I had underestimated the tenacity of serious hard core garage salers.  I parked, opened the garage door, and began moving things out onto the driveway.

Next thing you know, I notice a guy in the dark garage behind me!

“Where are your Star Wars things?” he asked.

I said, “I’m not even close to being ready.  They’re here in boxes somewhere but I have to dig everything out.”

“Do you have the vintage ones from the 70’s?”

I laughed.  “No.  I would never sell that stuff at a garage sale!”


I laughed just like this.

Without a word the guy left and drove off to the next sale.  Over the next 30 minutes, while I was setting up, cars would drive by, slow down to look at what I had, and drive off.  If they didn’t see what they were looking for (presumably big items like bikes and appliances) they kept going.

Typically at a garage sale, you don’t make any money for the first hour.  The first hour is only serious salers who are looking for those specific items.  They ask what you have and leave.  After that things begin to pick up.  Most people are pretty nice.  As the day goes on, friends and neighbors drop by, but it’s the cheapskates that drive me nuts.

A garage sale is a place where you can buy things dirt-cheap, but even so, I have my limits.  The guy that pissed me off the most at the last one was a douchebag in a big black pickup truck.  (Why do the douchebags always seem to drive big black pickup trucks?)  I had about a dozen DVDs and a couple Blu-rays out for sale.  The prices on them were pretty reasonable: I had the Blu out for $4 and none of the DVDs were over $3.  And that’s just the stickered prices, I was always willing to make deals with people who bought more than one.  Within reason.

The pickup truck douchebag grabbed all my movies and said simply to me, “50 cents each?”

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I said, “No, I can’t go that low.  If you take them all you can have ‘em for $2 each.”

He laughed, “$2 each?  Are you nuts?”  Laughed again.  “You’re not going to get $2 each for these.”

“I already have,” I said.  “I’ve sold a few already.”

He chuckled again and said, “You’re not going to sell these for $2 each.  50 cents and I’ll take them all.”

“No thanks,” I responded.  “I’d rather sell them separately at full price.”

He began walking away.  “Good luck buddy, you’re not going to sell any of those movies.”

Again I laughed.  “I already have!”

Then he said to me, “You know, that place [name deleted] will only give you 50 cents each for movies.”

The funny thing is the place he mentioned was the Record Store in which I used to work!  And they were not giving 50 cents each for movies at the time.  I had worked there long enough, and sold enough stuff since, that I knew he was full of shit.

I told him who I was, and called bullshit.  He drove off.

I admit I was pretty steamed up.  But the guy was a total dillhole.  Just the kind of garage saler that everybody hates.  Like I would have given him the movies with that kind of attitude!

An hour or two later, he drove back!

“Hey buddy!” he shouted from the window of his truck.  “How much for your movies?”

“Same as before,” I responded.  “$2 each.”

He said something rude and drove off.  I responded with something rude and was promptly scolded by my mother!

“He was a dickweed, mom,” I reasoned.  He then drove to my sister’s place, who had a garage sale going at the same time, and bought one of her movies for $2 without a single complaint!

I sold all but three of my movies at that sale and raked in a few hundred bucks.  I was happy and I just gave the remaining movies away to friends.  Although I may still have my copy of Reefer Madness that nobody wants.

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After the garage sale, my parents went on vacation for a week.  While they were away, one of the items we sold at the garage sale turned up sitting on my parents’ front porch, with a note attached.

Somebody had bought a VCR at the garage sale, and a few movies to go with it.  Everything worked.  The VCR was missing its power cable, but that was all.  I have lots of spare power cables around the house, and they’re easy enough to find, so I figured that was not an issue.

Well, some dumb lady “returned” the VCR ($5) and left it, with the movies, on my parents’ porch saying she wanted her money back because it “didn’t work”.

You sure can’t fix stupid.

Fortunately when my folks returned from vacation they settled the VCR issue.  The lady came back; she was from the neighborhood, and my parents gave her the money back without incident.

Still, I wondered to myself, “Who the hell tries to return something they bought at a garage sale?”  Weird.

That was the last sale we had.  Though I am sure we will have more, they certainly are not as much fun as they were when I was a kid!

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28 comments

  1. Excellent tale, Mike. I wish we had garage sales over here. Car boot sales can be pretty decent, but I haven’t been to one in a while and last few times there wasn’t anything worthwhile happening …

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      1. Here in Tbay,yard sales,garage sales are crazy big. If you advertise say for a 8am start,people will be creeping around your place at 730am….and as soon as u put stuff out..here they come…..some people are crazy man…..

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Some people are. Some people are.

          It’s always interesting to say the least. I also get assholes replying to my kijiji ads, saying, “Hold that item, I’ll be there at 10 am.” and then they never show up.

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  2. I love going to garage sales, but I have only ever had 2, and both were horrible, so never again. My best find was a new grandfather clock. I got it in Beechwood, at the annual sale, from a guy that was obviously rich. The clock was in the corner of the garage, away from the sale items. I asked the guy if it was for sale. He said everything’s for sale, make an offer. So I jokingly said $5. And he said sold.
    The first garage sale we had, we made the mistake of inviting friends and family over. By the time I bought beer and pizza I had spent more than I had made.
    The last garage sale was much worse. I had the early birds as well. I don’t deal well with people pissing me off before I have had my coffee. Then the annoying neighbour kid came over. I had never met this kid before. But I am sure everyone has a kid on their street like this. Talks constantly, and asks a million questions. She was like the female version of Gavin from The Kids in the Hall tv show. I am assuming her parents wanted me to do some free babysitting because she was their from when I opened until I closed. She did buy a pair of sunglasses. That was the hardest $1 I ever earned.
    There was also I guy I had to kick out of my sale. I saw him pull up in his station wagon. The car was plastered from front to back with bible sayings and Jesus pictures, so I thought here we go. He wasn’t there to buy. He was there to hand out his booklets about religion. He was actually scaring the kids that were there with their parents. He was forcing them to take his pamphlets so they could be saved. I told him to stop scaring the kids and if he wasn’t buying anything to leave.
    This one does not feature Gavin, but best describes how some garage salers act.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good video Brian!

      I’ve never had to kick somebody off the property, but I did find myself stuck talking to some guy who was insisting that we were in the “End Times” and all the signs are here.

      (“My signs?” I thought. “My garage sale signs?”)

      I’m hoping to do one more in the spring. If so I’ll let you know what I’m dumping in case you want anything.

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  3. I have held precisely 2 yard sales in this town: my first and my last. And it was all on the same day.

    We advertised to start at 8, we had people ringing our doorbell at 6:00 – and getting pissy with me when I told them to come back… and they’d woken me up! We had people trying to get into the garage to go through stuff before we could even get stuff into the driveway – asking to buy things in the garage that weren’t even for sale! Every single item’s price was fair and they wanted it all talked down. It was fucking exhausting.

    So no. No no no no fucking no more garage sales. Nope no way. Nyet. Nein. Non. No no no.

    I will attend them, if we’re looking to kill a summer Saturday morning (I have had occasion to find someone ditchng CDs at $1 each and had some good scores that way) but I will not ever hold another one. I’d rather donate it all to Value Village. I’d rather hold a big bonfire in the backyard of all the stuff. I’d rather set MYSELF on fire than deal with yardsalers in my driveway ever again.

    Hey want me to tell you how I really feel about it? ;)

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, I’m generally a pretty positive guy, and I can usually deal with casual weirdos. Hell, we all do that every day, just going out our front door.

        But yard salers are a specific breed. They may even be nice, reasonable people in their other lives. But when they flick that switch on a Saturday morning, they become something of which I want no part ever again. My opinion on the subject may seem strong, but it’s earned and I stand by it.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. One more thing: My mom always said growing up that we should have a garage sale, but never did end up having one. Now, like I said, I don’t have much interest. Anyway, I have neighbours who have them all the time and the vultures are scoping the streets at 6 AM. I can’t stand that. I’d rather give the stuff away to charity than put up with dillweeds, thanks.

    On an unrelated note, did you know there are some towns in ON where you need a license to have a garage sale, and at that you’re only allows one garage sale once a year? I believe Peterborough is one such place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did NOT know that! I’m glad that’s not here.

      The last two or three sales we had, the cash that I brought home alone justified the day. I tend to sell the most popular stuff that people want, I guess!

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      1. Way back when, maybe 35 years ago, we had to have a license to have a garage sale in Kitchener. It cost only $1.00 but was a pain. That was discontinued within a short time.

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      1. Bwahahahaaaa! Oh god, no thanks dude!

        My husband’s friend is a painter (fine art) in PTown, and he tried having a weekly sale in his garage. He’d have a mini gallery set up and advertise in the paper, etc. Then back in July, he said on FB, “Guess what? Got visited by our local bylaw enforcer…” He said that he has to find new means of selling his wares now.

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  5. We had a lot of fun with garage sales when the kids on the street were all young. Several households would have their sales on the same day and the kids had a ball buying their friends toys and games. The following year the same things would be for sale and another kid from the street would buy them. It was a great way to share with the neighbours.

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  6. i always tell the early-birds that if they really want something, they’ll have to pay double the marked price, because I’m not ready and the start time was posted. They leave pretty quickly, because they want things CHEAP. Duh! Around here, the early-birds are usually old farts who turn around and sell the things at flea markets and such, for much higher
    prices. There’s one old guy who buys truckloads of stuff at auctions, too, and is definitely a hoarder of the highest level. I’ve been told he lives in the country and has several barns full of stuff, and the yard has hundreds of rusting bikes in it!

    I used to get to a lot of garage sales myself, but not so much anymore. For awhile I was buying books and reselling them to bookstores, but I wasn’t a jerk and didn’t try to get them cheaper. If I knew I could sell it, and it was a fair price, I bought it.

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    1. GREAT idea about charging the early birds double. I swear I’ll do that next year.

      I’m 100% certain that people bought my stuff for higher resale. I’m sure the DVD guy was thinking that. I sold some Lego and I know for a fact that some people re-sold it on eBay. But that’s fine. If I wanted to go through the trouble of eBay, I could have.

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