Friday, June 20, 2008

A garage sale tale

Garage sale at my mother's houseGarage sale at my mother's house

Almost every year my mother, my sister and I get together for a garage sale. We've been doing this for many years.

This time, there were four families contributing toward the sale, with my Mom's cousins joining in. All told, we made about $450 for two days of work last weekend. My take was about $90, which is actually a bigger percentage of the earnings than usual.

Usually, when I bring home my meager earnings, my husband will wonder why we even bother, because it's surely not worth the money for the time we put into it. But lately, he's caught on that there are many reasons why we hold our annual garage sale, and money is only a small one.


To me, it's recycling at its most satisfying. Not only do I have a reason and a deadline for sorting through my closets and such, but I also get the satisfaction of seeing my treasured junk find its way into the hands of someone who wants and/or needs it.

This year there was the family buying up kids clothes for their grandson who was coming for a long visit, but his mother never sends along enough clothes.

There was the single father setting up a new home who needed a kitchen table.

There was the young couple with the cute little girl who snatched up the window air-conditioning unit. They had me stretching my memory for the right words to assure them in Spanish that yes, indeed, it did work. I managed to come up with trabajar. I couldn't conjugate it, but it got the message across.

And there was the lady who liked the three wavy-shaped glass jars as much as I did and was willing to pay 75 cents for them. Hopefully, she'll find a better use for them than I did (see Wordless Wednesday: Trapped, but without the Beanie Babies).

Truthfully, we practically gave our stuff away. I wrote out a lot of price tags at 50 cents, $1 and $2, and was happy to be haggled down. Even though there were a couple large-ticket items that sold, there were hundreds of small things that found new homes during those two days. In the end, what didn't sell was boxed up and donated to charity.


But then there's also the social aspect of the garage sale. It's an excuse to sit around with my mother and sister all day. We talked a lot, but we also kept busy with the business-related tasks.

We also got to see many of my Mom's neighbors. My Mom has lived in the house for 30 years, so I remember many from my own childhood in the house, or I've heard my Mom talk about them.

The people watching was pretty fascinating, too. People of all different ages, ethnicities and financial situations came through. They didn't necessarily need what we were offering, but they were curious to see what we had.

One of the best things this year, though, was seeing my nephews get into the experience. My 8-year-old nephew, Louis, ran a lemonade stand. He didn't do great business, but he was diligent about trying to sell. My almost-12-year-old nephew, Drake, manned the our bank and worked as our cashier. He was a dedicated worker both days, and a lot of the customers got a kick out of watching him take the job so seriously.

One of the my favorite memories of the weekend was watching Drake and my sister count and recount the money and tally the books at the end of the sale. There was a lot of high finance going on there as we tried to figure out how much each of us made. Which, of course, left me free to take photos. :)

my nephew and his dad man the lemonade standmy nephew and sister work hard to tally the books at the end of the sale


  1. Garage sale, yard sale is hard work. I did my first last summer and I don't think I will do it again unless I try for one day instead of two. First day was very busy and second day hardly anyone. I was just thinking about posting about my episode from last year.

  2. You're right. I should have added that because we do it every year, we have the setup down to a science. We know how to set up my Mom's garage, we have enough tables, our signs are already made, etc. Plus we get together at least a time or two to setup before hand. It's also easier because it's a group of us, so we can share responsibilities. For instance, my sister and I both had to work on Friday (I was there the first hour on Friday), but there were other people to cover us. My sister and I then tried to take more of the work burden on Saturday.

    As for the one day instead of two, I think if you go to the effort to set everything up, price the items, etc., it's better to be open two days.

  3. I agree with you that there are many reasons for holding a garage sale but I've just never been able to get into it. I did it once and made about $700 (there were some antiques in the mix) but it was a lot of work before, during, after the sale. Just not my cup of tea.
    My neighbor however will drive all over town every week to attend them (and has one of her own as often as the city will allow her a license).

  4. Looks like a great time was had by all. My problem at garage sales is whenever someone wants to buy something of mine, I don't want to sell it anymore.

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  5. @MamaFlo -- I think the more often you hold them, the more of a system you have and the easier it is. I'm not hooked on attending garage sales so much. It's estate sales that I love. Haven't been to one yet this year, though.

    @Todd -- Letting go of the stuff can be difficult sometimes. Every once in a while, if I have an item like that, I keep a higher price on it, and if it sells at the higher price, then it was meant to be. If it doesn't, it gets pulled back at the end of the sale. Usually, though, by the time of the garage sale, I've made my peace with letting it go.


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