Sunday, August 30, 2009

will you take less than a quarter?

Well I kind of went MIA on you there didn't I? My apologies, I certainly didn't mean to desert you without a word, but this was garage sale weekend at the ole Ranch here (FYI we do not live on a ranch, I just like to live with the delusion of grandeur).

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The long and the short of it is - Papa Al (the girls' great-grandpa) recently decided it was time to sell his little house and move into a retirement home. And since Papa Al's street wasn't the ideal setting for a garage sale it was decided everything would be moved into storage in our garage and the sale would be held in our driveway at some point. Over the weeks our garage has slowly been filling up with stuff. We don't have a large garage, it's a rather tight fitting one car model, that has seen better days, but we packed it full with Papa Al's stuff. No joke, for the week before the sale our lawn mower was outside in the backyard because Papa brought the last load up when I was cutting the grass and after he unloaded the trailer and left there wasn't a single inch of free space available.

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It was a big and difficult job in many ways. I don't envy Grandma Linda having to pack up her parent's home and by extension their lives there with the intention of dispersing it to strangers. Since everything was stored at our place Mike thought we should do what we could to lighten the load and we tasked ourselves with the job of pricing every single item in every single box. That was a huge undertaking, but so very necessary. I spent some time googling garage sale tips and the number one thing. The thing they couldn't stress enough was pricing your items. So Mike and I spent countless hours in the garage unpacking, cleaning, pricing and repacking. As well I decided to ruthlessly clear my house of clutter to sell. So there was a lot of cleaning, pricing and packing going on indoors too.

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I wasn't quite sure what to expect of the weekend, but it was so much better that I could have imagined. I won't keep you in suspense any longer - the garage sale was a tremendous success. Mike and I cleared over $650 and Papa Al's take was similarly impressive. But I think this weekend was about so much more than the money..... here are some highlights:

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The sale was advertised in the paper, but I also posted in on craigslist, kijiji and facebook. This led to 4 people showing up at our house Friday night asking if they could look through our garage because they weren't sure if they could make it back the following morning. That falls under the category of - not my problem. I will tell you of the four, two of them were back on our doorstep, just after seven the next morning. Sale started at eight btw.

We found it endlessly fascinating all weekend, what people were buying. Papa Al had a fairly large "media collection" consisting of books, records and vhs movies. We were staggered at the vhs tapes and records that sold.

Also, some people are cheap. Mike and I had priced things to sell. The majority of it was priced a dollar or less and people were still trying to haggle. We had $10 on Papa Al's microwave which was in terrific condition. There was a haggle session and in the end it went for $7.

Maybe the most bizarre, Papa Al had an old set of encyclopedias, as well as several sets of Time Life books. We were positive none of it would sell. Why would anyone buy a set of outdated encyclopedias when we have the interwebs? Then two young, pierced and tatooed lads showed up. One offered Grandma Linda $2 for the set. Grandma Linda countered with $3 and his friend piped up - I'll give you the $5 for it. Sold! In the end they left with 2 of the Time Life sets as well. I cannot imagine why they were even interested in them.

Oh no wait... that wasn't the most bizarre. A lady shows up and right off the bat, she's complaining to me about how long of a drive it was out to my place. She was quite certain she was driving to Texas. I should have maybe tried to sell her Papa Al's globe. Look at me up here in Canada - no where near Texas! She wandered around for a while and finally settled on one of those fibre optic flowers in the plastic case. Your Grandma probably had one. Basically, you plug it in and the flowers change colour - fibre optically. She asks Grandma Linda where the cord is. It's in her trunk, so GL walks across the street, gets the plug, comes back, plugs it in and shows the lady it's in working order. It's then she tells GL, "oh I don't want to buy it. I just wanted to see it work." She finally settles on a couple of thing totalling a whopping $1.25. As I take her cash she snorts at me - A drive all the way out in the country for a $1.25. That's just great. Clearly garage saling is her greatest passion. I mean she was obviously enjoying herself, so why not keep doing it?

I have to say the best part of the weekend was the laughs. For the most part it was Mike and I and Grandma Linda and her brother, Uncle G-Mac holding down the fort and we may have laughed for the entire weekend. We made up a drinking game that made fun of Uncle G-Mac. Then we made one up about Grandma Linda. Mike took a beating for being a Toronto Maple Leaf fan. We forced Uncle G-Mac to admit his celebrity to a random garage saler (he's a writer and does a radio show). There was no shortage of fart jokes, because farts are always funny. We flipped through Papa Al's record collection and laughed like crazy over some of the album covers and some of the albums (Saucy Sylvia Agent Double oh sixty-nine Adult comedy album, I'm looking at you). And we ate a ridiculous amount of chocolate chip cookies and brownies. So while it was a huge amount of work, I think the memory of the day will more than make up for it. We will be talking about this weekend for many years to come. At the next family dinner, some one is bound to say - remember that crazy lady who made you plug in that flower light because she wanted to see it work and then didn't buy it? Or Uncle G-Mac will mention his radio show and we'll all yell - do a shot! Or we'll remind Uncle G-Mac how he lost the cash box and then contemplated tackling the woman he thought stole it.

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I kinda wish we could do it again next weekend.... Okay not all the unpacking, cleaning, pricing, repacking, unpacking, displaying and selling, but definitely the hanging out and the laughing. Maybe we should start planning for a garage sale in 2010.

9 comments:

sounds like it was a great success, in more ways than one!
wow. can you come to my house and plan a garage sale? it's something we never end up doing because i get sick of all the clutter and then pack it all away to Sally Ann. sounds like it was fun and lucrative. what a lovely combination.

oh, by the by, some of your pics aren't showing up. don't know if it's me or if others are having the same prob
I'm getting into major garage sale mode for next spring. I've already started packing up boxes of stuff, and I figure I'll price it over the winter while the kids play in the basement (where the boxes are).

It sounds like your sale was a huge success, so let me ask you a hundred questions:
* how did the clothes sell? Did you price each clothes item individually, or did you just label the bin as "everything for $1"?
* how did the baked goods sell? Would you have more or less next time?
* how much of a cash float did you have on hand at the start of the day? Did you have enough change?
* did you provide bags?

I want to know everything!

PS: Your photos are showing up fine for me...
We had a garage sale once and a woman knocked over a candle holder and broke it. While I was busy picking up the shards of glass off the ground, so no one would cut themselves, she high tailed it outa there. I was so disappointed. She could have at least bought something, if not offered to pay for what she broke.
Wow, Shan, more power to you! I'm always overwhelmed by the idea of a garage sale. (It helps that we live on a road off a road off a road... all dirt, so not much traffic).
I love going to garage sales! Used to be a weekly thing for my mom, SIL, and me...looks like you had some great stuff for sale. I'm such a bad buyer though in the sense that I'm so bad at haggling; I mean that's great for the sellers but not so much for me ;)

Also, lovely pics Shan :D
I love that tea cup! BEAUTIFUL!!
That sounds like a really fun sale time!!
Leah - it was, thanks.

Julie - well I'm pretty much an expert at this point, so yeah. Why not. I have gone the Sally Ann route myself. A successful garage sale is a tremendous amount of work.

Lynn - I'm going to send you a giant email with all I learned about garage sales.

Chantal - no doubt that would have been the polite/decent thing to do.

Jen - We get a fair amount of traffic through the village, so I knew it could be lucrative for Papa Al to have it here.

Michelle - Thanks. I'm having a lot of fun roaming around with my camera snapping what catches my eye. I can't stand the haggling process, from either side.

Betsy - yes, it's very pretty. Something Grandma Linda decided to keep in the end.

WW - it was the most fun I've had in quite some time.