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?”
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.
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!