Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lessons Learned from a Garage Sale

Our second garage sale this year was a bust. In the three hours we were open on Saturday, before the downpour started, we had a whopping 20 or so customers. I sold three items.

Granted, I beat Friday's total sales of $6.50 and made $27 total. Plus we split the proceeds from leftover items my mom contributed to the sale, which added another $9. The boy made just over $100 and a friend who joined us made $30. I guess it wasn't a complete waste of time, but it's definitely not my favorite way to spend a Saturday.

The silver-lining to another less-than successful sale is that it did provide a lot of food for thought.
  • That stuff you had to have? It's almost worthless to everyone else. Once you buy it and take it out of the store it easily loses 50-75% of its value. It amazes me how little people are willing to pay at garage sales, even for new and unopened items. I'm not sure why we value an item on a store shelf so much higher than one at a yard sale or thrift store, but we do.

    One "customer" complained at the 50 cent price tag on a brand new, never used wine corkscrew (it wasn't a super cheap one either). The sweater I bought and never wore? $15 may have been a fairly good buy at Eddie Bauer, but I couldn't even sell it for $2. Result = $15 wasted. The shotglasses I collected in college? Worthless. I could go on and on. I don't even want to think about the money I've wasted over the years on stuff I didn't even use or wear.

  • Reevaluate every purchase. You can't change the past, but you can make different choices in the future. We waste so, soooo much money buying things we don't need and don't even really want. Stop shopping for recreation. Use a 30-day wait list before making purchases. Reevaluate everything you buy. Do whatever works for you to make sure you only bring things you need and/or really love into your home.

  • What's gone is gone, just donate your clutter! No more garage sales, ever! This advice is really a personal reminder. Everyone's situation is different, but for me, garage sales are completely not worth it. Garage sales are a lot of work. You have to find items to sell, price them, pack them up, haul them to the sale, unpack the items, arrange them, spend time at the actual sale, then repack the items and either store, sell or donate them. All that for $27? Completely not worth it, especially since I don't enjoy garage sales in the first place.

    I've donated carloads of clutter over the past few years, and from now on, unless something is very valuable, it goes straight to our local charity thrift store, Volunteers of America. Donating clutter is much quicker, might help someone who needs it and you get a tax deduction (if you itemize). It's a win-win-win. Even as I was packing the yard sale leftovers last night I was tempted to save things to sell later. But by keeping this tip in mind and repeating it internally like a mantra, I was able to remember that for me, the time spent selling items isn't worth it. I put almost everything into the donation box, so very few items will be coming back into the house.

  • Getting rid of the clutter is way more freeing than keeping it. I know it's tempting to hold on to items just in case, because of the money you spent on them, etc., but I can say from personal experience that getting rid of items you no longer need or love is far more satisfying than keeping them.

  • The more you declutter, the easier it gets. I've finally been able to get rid of some stuff that I kept for round after round of decluttering and now I wonder why it took me so long. By getting rid of the items that no longer enhance you're life, your relationship with stuff changes and it has become much easier to clear out the clutter and stop the inflow of more stuff.


  1. AMEN Sister! I spent the day at my parent's house for Father's Day and remained steadfast in my refusal to leave with any stuff. For some reason they're always trying to pawn things off on me... an old (but nice) sweatshirt - I was tempted, but had to remind myself that I just hauled 3 boxes of similar items to the thrift store. Single use alcohol wipes - maybe I could use them, but I have alcohol and a cotton cloth if I need it. A bunch of Spanish novels - maybe I'd get around to reading them someday, but I already have 8 or 9 Spanish books in my queue, plus a pile of others I've collected and I don't need any more of them!

    Remain strong. Put it down and walk away slowly. I must keep reminding myself that free stuff isn't really free, it carries with it the time and hassle of storing it, cleaning it, and eventually getting rid of it.

    Just say no!

  2. It is hard to turn down free stuff and harder still for me to rationalize purging certain items I've had forever, even if I no longer enjoy them. But I'm happy to say that my boyfriend dropped off the EIGHT BOXES of donations today and I don't miss a thing!

  3. I lied, I actually put everything up in the attic.


Comments make my day! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

Note: Comments are moderated in order to keep this a spam/ad-free forum.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin