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.