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BUY BUY BUY

There's money in that pile of junk growing in the corner of your room. Sell it at a garage sale.

There's a pile of junk in my front yard. Old clothes, shoes, games toys. People are slowly picking their way thorough it.

Hurricane, you ask? Tornado?

No, it's a yard sale.

My family is moving again this summer. We do this regularly, because my dad's in the military. And, like many other Americans, we acquire stuff we no longer wish to own, let alone move to another location. But we sincerely hope that others will find our junk to be treasure. Therefore, we hold yard sales.

I have the unenviable job of helping my parents. My younger siblings can pretty much ignore the whole thing, heading to birthday parties at will, but me, I'm stuck here, trying to price castoff toys from McDonald's Happy Meals. What price can you put on useless objects? That's the whole point of yard sales.

Have you ever watched that TV program, Antique Roadshow? People bring in old objects like swords they found in the rafters of their Aunt Suzie's barn, and hold their breath while a learned appraiser looks it over. "It's worth millions," they hope to hear. Just such a wish is on the minds of yard salers.

Yard sales are known by many names. The can be garage sales, rummage sales, estate sales, useless old junk sales (okay, you don't see too many signs like that). Where do people say they are going when they head off to a yard sale? According to my old neighbor in North Carolina, she was going "sailing" when she shopped at a regular sale. However, when a sale was held in a ritzy, upper class part of town, she referred to the event as "yachting."

Think you want to hold your own sale? Here are a few pointers from an expert _ me! Price things beforehand. Things should be clean and in working order. If they are electrical, make sure you have an outlet or extension cord handy so buyers can try them out. Have plenty of change on hand. People would rather look at things displayed on tables than on the ground. Shoppers will come at least an hour before your posted starting time, so be prepared. And never let your parents choose what you will sell. Even though the job of going through your stuff stinks, do it yourself, because there's a good chance your sense of value will differ from theirs.

Now, for some other tips:

Remember that no price you set is ever firm. Everything is open to negotiation; you want to get rid of the stuff, right? And the later it is in the day, the less everything is worth. Do you really want to move it back into your house? Note to shoppers: If you're looking for bargains, this is the time to shop!

(Here's a catty observation: When someone pulls up to your garage sale in a car worth more than $30,000 you can expect them to haggle over even the littlest item. These are the people who offer you 25 cents when the price tag says 50. Come on, surely there's an extra quarter rattling around in the console of that Lexus!)

If you have younger siblings, look out. Everything you decide to get rid of looks like treasure to them, they will want to keep it and they will cry to get it. Your parents may give in to them. And the day after the yard sale, they will forget they ever said they had to have it. So it will end up back in your room, cluttering up your shelf, your closet, your floor.

Finally, a word in praise of yard sales. When I get to my new house, in my new city, I will be very, very glad not to have to unpack things I don't want or need. I am glad to see someone's eyes light up when they discover my comforter, dust ruffle, pillow sham and sheet set only cost $5. I outgrew it long ago, and have moved it twice. I know it will look great in some other little girl's room. Not to mention the fact that every profit I made at the sale gives me that much more money to spend on my new room! Hooray for yard sales!

Caroline Schreiber, 13, is in the eighth grade at St. Raphael's Catholic School in St. Petersburg.

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