Garage Sales Never Seems Worth It To Me


I had another garage sale last weekend. I don’t know why I keep doing this. Well, I do know. It’s because I know what I paid for things and I hate simply throwing them out without one last-ditch effort to recoup some of my money. But if you add in labor, materials and the time I am spending not doing other things, I am only throwing good money after bad.

But don’t get me wrong — I love garage sales.

That is, I love the shopping part. The selling part is so much more difficult.

While it is loads of fun to eat a leisurely breakfast and then cruise around in my car perusing the castoffs of others, it is not so fun to revisit the failure of each and every item I plan to sell, assess its merits and demerits, and then assign it a price. It is not fun to peel apart 315 price stickers and write on them with a pen that will always, always, always run out of ink halfway through.

It is not fun to clear a space in my garage to sell the stuff, and it is not fun to set it all up knowing it will all come back down on Monday morning. It is not fun putting my garage back in order on Tuesday, after I’ve laboriously carted all this trash to a thrift shop. It takes me hours to make signs on fluorescent poster boards (that I had to buy) with fat markers (that I had to buy), and then I have to put them up.

At dawn on the day of the sale, I drive around in my car bleary-eyed, trying not to get mowed down by traffic as I poke stubborn signs into the ground. Later that day, I will have to load these signs (with their accompanying clumps of dirt) into my clean vehicle.

I will also have to sit in the hot sun, conversing with strangers about the origins of this garbage and why I’ve priced it so high. (“Three dollars for a table lamp? Really?” “OK, then. You can have it for $2, just give me back the lightbulb.” “But I’ll need the lightbulb!”) I honestly thought I had come further than this in my life.

Well, there is one fun part — the counting of the money. At the end of the day, even if it looks like I haven’t made a dent in the pile of stuff I’ve offered to strangers, they have somehow given me cash for some of it. There’s the $2 for the lamp, for instance (complete with $4 light bulb). There’s $3 for a box full of used socks (ick). There’s $12 for a non-working lawnmower, $5 for a barbecue grill labeled “potentially dangerous” and $1 for a fire extinguisher labeled “empty.” (Those last two were bought by the same person — someone who obviously has a death wish). I sold a bunch of ceramic knickknacks for 50 cents each and seven pairs of jeans at $2 a pair. The sum total of everything I sold ultimately amounted to $183.75.

Worth it? No, but it will cover the cost of everything I buy next weekend at yard sales, plus a trip to the doughnut shop, plus lunch.

And you have to consider the alternative — life as a hoarder.