My Big Sidewalk Sale Was A Success, But It Was Exhausting!


Because the antiques dealers who rent space in my store requested it, I decided to have a sidewalk sale. They could clean out their booths, mark down stale inventory and make some extra money. Because I don’t always act rationally, I invited my grandchildren to participate. They could choose items from my discount room, sell what they could and keep the money.

It was going to be a six-hour sale, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Conservatively, I spent 19 hours on it. Two months before the sale, I made fliers and notified the trade papers. That took an hour. One month before the sale, I put the event online and sent out an e-mail blast to my customers. That took another hour.

The day before the sale, I went to the grocery store and bought the lemons the kids would need for their lemonade stand, and the coffee I would need to keep the dealers focused as they set up their booths outside. Another hour. Three hours well spent. Three hours of careful planning and timely execution.

The night before the sale, the grandkids arrived and everything started spinning out of control. They were hungry and needed dinner instantly, but not any dinner, grandma, spaghetti please. That was good; can we help you make the lemonade? Can we squeeze the lemons? We think you need more sugar. And more sugar. Watch out, grandma, there’s a lemon on the floor. Can you pick it up? Hey! My arm tastes like lemon when I lick it. It really does! Take a lick, grandma!

I managed to get the kids in bed early. But who could sleep? The excitement of deciding what kinds of things they were going to sell. My granddaughter was going to sell jewelry, knickknacks and books. Do you have those things in your discount room, grandma? Yes, I do. Squealing. The grandson was going to sell anything that had a price tag of $20 or more. Would that be OK, grandma? Yes, it would. More squealing. They finally fell asleep about 10:30 p.m. I finally fell asleep about 4 a.m.

At 6 a.m., they were both standing at my bedside. “Grandma, wake up! We’ve got to set up for the sale!” By 6:30 a.m., we were at the store. I marked off participant spaces on the sidewalk, made coffee for the dealers and set out some breakfast bars. I dragged tables from the back room and put them into the kids’ booth. The kids busied themselves filling three shopping carts full of what they considered to be my most saleable items and setting them up outside. I was surprised at how good their booth looked. Very professional.

There followed six hours of watching the kids sweetly harass and harangue anyone who dared step a toe into their booth. No one left without lemonade ($1). No one left without being told, “We’re open to offers.” No one left without buying at least one knickknack, which was immediately replaced by another knickknack.

The kids’ parents came to pick them up at 4 p.m. It took me until 6 p.m. to get the leftovers back into carts, to take down the tables, to put away the lemonade, to sweep the sidewalk. That brought me to 14.5 hours, and I was tired, so I went home.

The next day, I returned to put unsold items back into the discount room. The room looked like a family of raccoons had spent the night in there, partying. It took me four and a half hours to clean that place up. Nineteen hours on a six-hour event, and here’s the thing — everyone had a great time, the grandkids alone made $59 and everybody wants to do it again soon.