Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The last sales of 2009? 12/5/09

The end of the year is often a somber time in the realm of yard sales. The weather turns cold and dreary, the days grow short and the approaching holidays distract sellers from their goals of ridding their homes of clutter.
Today I found a bit more in than I expected. But the end does appear in sight.

Cambridge Ave. Oakhurst “Yard Sales”

It was in the low 40’s maybe even colder in the shade when I came upon this sale in the southern Decatur Oakhurst community. The seller clad in a hooded jacket knew he was pushing the limits as he shivered on his porch while awaiting buyers for the gathered belongings in his driveway. He admitted that he should have done the sale earlier in the season but decided to go ahead with it anyway. But he told me the he had experienced a fair amount of business before he was ready to open.
Among the stuff for sale was a collection of penguin items that appeared well suited for the cold climate. There was a box full of plush penguins, a penguin game, some sort of child’s penguin costume (even thought it appeared no children lived in this home) a game called the Penguin Shuffle that billed itself as the ”motorized waddle walkin’ slippery slide game“ a party penguins punch bowl set and some smaller ceramic novelty flightless birds.
Other stuff put out in the driveway included a large painting of a red pepper, old computer accessories, lamps, an unopened box set of “Queer as Folk”, a Kate Bush DVD, an electric pumpkin carving tool, some baskets and a plush spider monkey.
I bought nothing.

Box of plush penguins.

Across the street on the porch of a brick bungalow was another sale. This one featuring the belongings of someone what at one time had a store or antique flea market booth. Everything here was quaint and antique like and nothing appeared to have been used by the actual owners of the house. While I am not attracted to such sales unless they feature really bizarre stuff such as large taxidermy sharks and artificial limbs this sale at least had pleasant well thought out arrangements. Most of the fodder here was the usual old toys, dolls, prints and décor items. But a large lamp made from a large Kahlua bottle did attract my attention. Liquor bottle lamps are a subject that requires more study on my part as I have often wondered what thinking goes into determining if an empty booze bottle is lamp worthy.

Big Kahlua lamp

Howard St. - Kirkwood “Yard Sale”

This large sale in front of a large two manor house is more or less a perennial sale. My justification for calling it that is that the sign is reused about every six months and a lot of the same goods are put out in the yard. I considered just driving past but I noticed a sled under the sign. Since there were warnings of possible snow flurries (just flurries not accumulation) I had to give the seller credit for using the sled to attract business. This time the seller appeared to have a lot more camo clothing than in past sales. Repeated items included two stoves placed in the middle of the lawn. I took a photo then thanked the seller for his nice display and bought nothing.

Knox St. Grant Park “Moving Sale”

This sale was sensibly inside a small house located on a dead end street. The real estate sign in the yard said ”I am larger than I look” I was not sure if this referred to the selling agent or the home. But it may have been the later since the home did appear larger once I ventured past the miniscule living room. At the time I arrived the estate was nearly depleted and a few Latino families were walking off with what little remained of the home’s furnishing. I did find a framed drawing a disturbed young girl in a back room. Other than this there was not much left to buy and I bought nothing.

Art found in nearly empty house.

Hobart Dr. Grant Park “Moving Sale”

My final stop of the day was inside a tiny house on the south end of Grant Park. The sale was instigated by the economy as the seller was being forced to move, as her landlord was moving back into this property due to the downturn in the real estate market. The host of the sale was an artist who creates robot like sculptures from found objects. She desperately needed to weed her collection of old hardware and mechanical devices to move into a smaller space. She had already cleared a considerable amount of her assemblage ingredients by the time I arrived. But the small living room still contained a large collection of old audio-visual devices including dated slide and film projectors, old speakers and various mechanical items rescued from scrap heaps. One stand out† item in the home was a life-sized model of a human spine. More run of the mill items needed to be gotten rid of included books, Cds and some outdated computer hardware.
I bought nothing but sympathized with the spatial issues of creating art from discarded materials.

A yard sale with backbone.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

One more yard sale...My own! 11/20/09

For too many years of my life I’ve gone to yard sales. In the past five years I’ve documented week by week my experiences at sales in this web site. But for all my infatuation with other people’s stuff I disdain having yard sales of my own stuff. There are many reasons for this the primary principle being that if I am hosting a sale I can’t go to whatever other sales are happening. There is also the factor that I don’t know if I am making good decisions about what I am getting rid of. But after weeks of consideration I decided to gather my unwanted and unneeded belongings and place them in my yard for all to see and hope to end the day with some cash and lots more room in my home. Clutter has been accumulating at my home. Like most Americans it is inevitable. Even thought my byword has been “I bought nothing” things have been creeping in and slowly taking away what free space I have in my home. I also wanted to apply my long over due “two year policy”. The rule states, if I have not used something in two years then it’s time to get rid of it. Thus anything packed away, stored under the bed, stuffed into a closet or rotting away in my storage shed must be divested. In truth there was a lot of stuff that was far over the two-year limit.
Accumulation happens insidiously. It creeps up on you month after month. The clothing I put on sale had been in the back of my closet taking up room. The bulk of it was shirts I had bought over the years at yard sales as well as thrift stores. Some were too large, others too small, some hung poorly others appeared perennially wrinkled. Over the past few years getting dressed I would grab one of these shirts out of the closet put it on, look at myself then recall why I did not like it. I would then place the item back on its hanger where it remained ill fitting and wrinkled for months to come. Hard goods in my home had a different staying power. Until the recent deluge and monsoon like raining season began I had kept a closet full of electronics that ran from a small audio mixer to assorted old camera gear in a small closet. The increase in moisture resulted in a wild outbreak of mildew that threatened the life and value of these objects. For the past two months a dresser in our spare bedroom was covered in these items as I sought a refuge from the mold attack. I considered that most of the stuff was most profitable if sold on EBay but I never got around to posting an ad. So the mixer, some camera gear, a guitar tuner and various other gadgets went into the sale pile.
A bit different was the collection of commemorative plates I had stashed away in a high kitchen cabinet. I had a difficult time determining if there was any value associated with the commemorative plates. Perusing pages of EBay sales I had no grasp if my plate for Christus Gardens had any worth or if there was a market for it. (If the Gatlinburg roadside religious site goes out of business perhaps the value will increase). Other plates in my collection celebrate Pocahontas, Iowa and The Durham North Carolina Centennial. These among a dozen others I would lovingly display them on a table on my front porch, as they were items of rare beauty. I had a few oddities a machete in a hand tooled leather case from panama that we inherited from Cindy’s father, a painting of zombies and cockroaches (I had purchased this for my yard sales show at the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center a few years ago) and the Mary Mag Powrs magnetic doll house. I had purchased this about a year ago with the intention of creating some artwork from it. I also had a lot of the usual fodder I see divested every week a redundant inkjet printer, tennis rackets, a cassette deck, cassette tapes, CDs and books.

The largest and most space consuming item I needed to get rid off was a collection of blow mold Christmas figures. I have not displayed the set in over two years and they were beginning to become decrepit while in storage. Worse among them was an old plastic Santa that squirrel had built a nest inside of while it was stored in the rafters of the backyard shed. I was once proud of this display and at one time they were pictured in Creative Loafing in an article on bad Xmas décor. But our front yard landscaping had changed and we could no longer properly exhibit them. In addition I no longer cared to provide such elegant housing for tree rodents.
I spent most of the week sorting the clutter. Friday evening I priced and sorted and placed stuff by the door and some on my screen in porch.
I had been discussing my sale plans on Facebook for over a week. I did not place a Craiglists ad until early Saturday morning and around 7:30 I sent Cindy out to place 4 or 5 posters on utility poles around the neighborhood.
I had the good pretty much assembled in my front yard and on my porch by 7:30. The signs and warned early birds to stay away as the sale was to open at 9 A.M. While I was ready I still wanted time to contemplate the sale take photos and relax.
The first early bird showed up a few minutes before eight. He was a crazed looking bearded man driving a SUV (but aren’t they all). When he approached I told him we open at eight. He stared at me with a crazed look and said “don’t you want to sell these things”. I replied, “yes after nine please come back them” He stood his ground and gave me a hateful look. I told him to leave. Cindy then went inside, as the tension appeared to escalate. Get off my property I demanded. He turned and left for his vehicle, but then he began cruising around the block giving me threatening looks as he passed. He continued doing this for fifteen minutes when he did not show up again I presumed he was tearing down our signs.
We did open a little before nine and a healthy stream of far more sane appearing individuals descending upon the sale. My first sale was to a reseller who purchased the machete, an animal cage and a few other items. I spoke with him about his business. He told me he made a fair income from reselling but admitted the business was getting harder with less good stuff appearing and more competition at sales. He primarily sold thru online ads but only sold locally. He experienced some bad experiences dealing with shipping and payment from remote customers. While he bought all manner of odds and ends his main interest was military memorabilia and jewelry. He did find on old brass emblem from a sergeant’s hat in a box of cheap jewelry I had.

The event turned into a more social affair by mid morning when friends arrived. I had wished I had gone the extra effort and prepared Irish Coffees for those visiting since I am such a fan and supporter of sales featuring alcoholic beverages. But in my haste to set up I had forgotten the evening before to purchase the proper ingredients.
The social aspects for me were the most redeeming portions of the sale. I also found it was harder to document a sale while I was also hosting it. I was somewhat disappointed in the quality of work I shot by days end. Perhaps I was expecting more. I made a little less than I expected but made enough to cover the cost of flying to West Palm Beach for the holidays. (Ground cost not included). I did not sell the nativity set on Saturday but someone did call and purchased it on Sunday. The remaining stuff went to the street and to Value Village.
I fell cleansed and redeemed to have gotten rid of this stuff. As I write weeks later I have no regrets. But I did keep the commemorative plates they are back hiding in a high kitchen cabinet. I may display them one day.

Wisemen that no longer fit in front yard.

Properly labeled old electronic device.

Machete and baby Jesus lovingly displayed.

Happy buyer of Xmas decor.

Buyers documenting the sale of Cindy Zarrilli artwork.

New owner of Baby Jesus.