“Garage sale people”…

19 Aug

I think that garage sales are an American institution and last weekend, I rediscovered just how much I hate them!

Having a garage sale is a LOT of work (arranging, pricing, setting stuff out, putting advertisements in newspapers, placing neighborhood signs, and actually running it!) for little financial return (I realize this is the wrong way to look at it – see the end of this post for my insight!)

The whole Saturday experience gave me insights into human behavior that I’m not sure “enriched” my life! If you are a “garage sale person” I apologize in advance if what I say below offends you.  I am not garage sale people!

Here’s what happened – let me know what you think!

1. There is no such thing as a start or end time!  I set out all my stuff (a lot!) on my driveway the night before because I’d heard that people do not respect the posted times.  I advertised a 9am-1pm sale, and at 7:30am a guy rang my doorbell and greeted my sleepy head with a gruff “how come no one is out here yet?  I have some stuff I want to buy!”  I hurried downstairs… the disrespect continued as he haggled me down to prices “he wanted” to pay.

2. Unexpected behavior. People rummaged through everything (expected) and rearranged it all (also expected) then wanted to pay prices that were 1/2 of what they thought the price should be (also expected) based on the table pricing where they moved the items (unexpected).  In many cases, it was more worth it to have someone pay a dollar for a five dollar item than to argue!

3. Blatant disrespect runs rampant.  One guy picked up a chainsaw I was selling and expected me to start it.  I told him that I was not a chainsaw kind of gal, at which point he pulled the starter and filled my yard with piercing chainsaw sounds – frightening other buyers near him.  When he stopped it, he remarked that something was wrong with it and he’d only pay a fraction of the cost.  At that point, I just wanted him out of my face and out of my yard.

4. Nothing is surprising with people.  One woman begged me to sell my used bicycle to her and when I agreed (I thought that I might fix it to ride myself) – she told me she would only pay $10. of the $15. asking price.  I anticipated that new inner tubes would make it road worthy and she wheeled it out of my driveway.  The following day she called me to try to return it based on her “bike shop” assertion that the frame had been run over by a truck (it hadn’t been!) She felt that I had ripped her off.  After listening to her lament about the “principle of the transaction” – I finally told her that the negative energy she was generating was too much and if she really wanted her $10 back to bring the bike by.  So far she hasn’t.

5. People will happily pay $5.00 for a beer at a local pub but will argue about paying $2. for a $30. item at a garage sale.  One guy chose a 50 cent item and then whined that he only had 31 cents on him…I wondered how he paid for the gas to drive his car down the street.  Another woman scoffed when I would not accept a dollar for an item marked two dollars – it was a $40 brand new blanket from overseas!

I guess I will never understand the mentality of those who purport to make a “game” out of garage sales – to me it is disrespectful to sift through another’s property and then offer a pittance for their wares.  Yet there are many people for whom garage sales are a Saturday staple.

My daughter has it right when she says “Mom, consider that

a garage sale is a way of having other people pay to take away the stuff you don’t want and no longer need!

She’s right, and I will try to remember that in a couple of weeks when I have another garage sale (more people can come and pay me to take away even more stuff!)

Have a good weekend!


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