Thursday, October 30, 2008
a few weekends ago we had the yard sale to end all yard sales. this was our last big effort at getting rid of our worldly possessions, and it was a resounding success. i spent the week leading up to it wading and climbing (literally) through the pile of stuff lovingly shoved in our garage. i've done enough yard sales to know that i needed to organize as much as i could beforehand and not leave it until that morning. we had just about everything you could have possibly imagined. things were priced to go quickly and we were always up for challenging the hagglers (not that we were against bargaining). we had a huge (and i mean HUGE) box of books, mostly school books, that i figured no one was going to touch. well it turned out we had quick a few booksellers come by and they practically cleaned us out (and they're going to make some good money on those things. seeing my huge anthology of theatre history textbook go was a particularly tough blow.)
we got up at 4:30 to start setting up. i had a ridiculous amount of baby/toddler clothes for every size and every season, and i had already sorted them by size and made helpful signs to enhance our faithful customers' experience. i really didn't have a good idea about how to hang up these clothes though. (another rule of thumb for yard sales... if it's not visible, it won't sell. hang up clothes!) i had a lot of kite string so i thought i'd string some up in the garage doors so thickly that it would be able to hold more weight. i wasted about 30 minutes on this project. i wound and wound and tied and tied, put about 5 outfits on the string, and the clothes pulled the string to the ground. at the last minute we found some grubby shelves in the garage and hung the clothes on those and an old drying rack. we were set up for business!
in my married life, we've had 3 yard sales, and i've never seen one quite like this. our signs said 7am, and at exactly that time there was a LINE of cars barrelling down the driveway to see us. we had a steady stream of customers all day... and when i say steady, i mean that there were many times when we had at least 20 people pawing through our stuff. it was incredible. there was never more than a 5 minute lull. we packed up at noon and there were still people trying to look at our stuff (as in, they would actually come into our garage and look through what we had put away.) we made about $450!
the kids were awesome. rachel played outside the entire time. i thought she'd be upset by a lot of her toys out there, but she was quite the little salesgirl. "you wanna buy that?" "you wanna buy our stuff?" "we're having a yard sale!"
another thing i've learned about yard sales, is that if there is anything remotely visible around your house, it only makes sense that it's for sale. we had the garage doors open, but a lot of stuff set up in front so you couldn't actually go in the garage. people would try to push through our meticulously set up aesthetically pleasing displays, see an old (clearly 20 years old) washing machine that couldn't possibly work, and ask how much that was. i expected people to start to ask about random cars in the parking lot... "is that one for sale?" "what about this bush? i'll give you 10 cents."
this yard sale was unique to me b/c we weren't selling stuff that we necessarily wanted to get rid of (lots of it we did, but not all). we were getting rid of stuff we HAD to get rid of and can't take with us... like rachel's dora toddler bed and the bouncy seat that both of my babies' bottoms spent a lot of time in... i'm not a materialistic person, but it was hard to see people sift through your things, most of which you wouldn't dream of selling if you weren't going overseas, see your price of $2 for beautiful baby dress that was worn once but you're really attached to, and offer you 25 cents. it hurts, a little.
i must say, if it weren't for raleigh's hispanic community, our yard sale would have gone no where fast, but these people really want your stuff for as little money as you'll accept. i think some of them wanted us to pay them to take something. chuck was selling a tennis racket (it was quite nice, so we had a higher price of $5 on it). if someone had offered $4 or even $3, we would have sold it. this one guy picked up the racket, looked at me, pointed at it (his english must have been a little rusty), i said "$5" while holding up 5 fingers (something that i learned expedited sales greatly). the guy looked at me like i had a giraffe coming out of my nose and made the generous counter offer of "$1." i blinked a couple times and simply said "no." (someone later bought the racket for our asking price.)
there were many languages heard in our driveway that morning. it was quite the international experience. many nationalities were represented and now have our worldly goods dispersed between them. there was one family that had been shopping around for a while. an old woman from this family came up to me with her arms full of stuff. i have to say that this woman was clearly white. she wasn't hispanic, she wasn't asian, she was white. i let my lack of bilingualness relax for a minute, making it an ever ruder awakening when she started speaking to me in russian. she made no effort whatsoever (no gestures, nothing) to make her intentions understood. i looked her straight in the face and said "are you kidding me?" fortunately her daughter could translate... barely.
these are some highlights from the wade family yard sale. one of my obnoxiously hot pink signs is definitely still up on capital boulevard. if you see it, that's me. it's been there for weeks. i really don't have much intention of taking it down. it does say something for my sign-making ability. that thing is durable (i wrapped it in seran wrap b/c it was supposed to sprinkle at the time). if anyone needs me to make some signs for them, all you have to do is ask.