Tips from the front lines

I’m a garage sale maven. During the day, I’m a frugal, well-mannered bargain hunter. At the crack of dawn, I’m a Volvo-wielding junk strategist. While most of how I operate is based on pure instinct bred on too many early morning fresh donuts, I thought a rough guide for the wannabe might be fun to write. There are things for those not initiated in the art of the yardsaleing, take at your own discretion:

  • Just because it is broken doesn’t exactly assume character. Restoring is a big antique no-no, you know that right? And if you’re going to fix it for a utilitarian purpose, will you actually get around to that? Search your soul. 
  • Do not buy five or more of the same thing. Here’s a look to my Mom’s stack of frames and her take that more of the exact same one is a good thing. It isn’t.
  • There is a herd. Choose to follow it, lead it, or ignore it at will. This perhaps, needs more of an explanation.
    • The herd consists of two main groups: (Let’s be frank about it, shall we.) Mexicans and Yuppies. The Mexicans are in it to find quality at low price, they have instinct down to a fine science. They travel in huge vans usually followed by someone in a pickup for the bigger items. Yuppies have highlighted maps and lists and know exactly where they are going and they are immensely useful if you don’t know the area. They’re sitting in a clean SUV drinking a latte. 
  • Listen to your instinct: In our society, not much favor is given for actually listening to your gut instinct and ignoring it for some situations it can save your ass, such as when you’re “following your heart.”  But yardsaleing this element is crucial. Do a slow drive-by. Do you feel a cheap tea set? Do you feel a hidden box of cheap books silently calling for you? Do you just feel used and spittle covered baby clothes? [Hey, that may work either way if you’re wanting to get used baby clothes.] Use the force. 
  • Be nice. No dirty looks at someone who is walking away with your tea set. Does this preclude the Darwinian attitude that the strong should win? No. I’ve been in a couple of standoffs with someone who’s picked up something I’ve wanted and I’ve magnified their hedging by a hard stare at said item.  
  • Those dollars and cents add up. Come with a limit. I kept seeing this lady in the herd once who would just fill up the basket on her scooter; nicely efficient that one. 
  • That said, do splurge if your instinct is on high alert. I tried to talk this lady down on a set of bracelets in a Zales box from 10 to five dollars and she wouldn’t budge. “I know this is worth more,” she kept screeching. So I forked over the ten bucks, which (depending your style) can be an outrageous yardsaleing sum, and found out online that the bracelets were actually worth 70-80 bucks. Boom, there’s an investment lesson.  
  • Really, the best part of town is the way to go. They don’t know what they’re selling and either they’ll sell it for super cheap or way overpriced. The run down parts of town are in it to make money, not space. They are most always overpriced.
  • Don’t touch used underwear. Don’t even debate, just…no. Walk on by. [Who sells this by the way?]


7 Responses to Tips from the front lines

  1. eatsbugs says:

    I will have to keep these in line if I ever get into yardsailing like I’ve been meaning to.

  2. E says:

    You know, that sounds like it would be pretty interesting. Maybe we can do a yard sale trip some weekend, either at your town or my town?

  3. Doc Bill says:

    Volvo, eh?

    Blue by any chance?

  4. Rashenbo says:

    Awesome! I like garage sales but I peter out pretty early on! 🙂

    I found you from Suzanne’s blog (she’s over at Cuss and Rants).


  5. Jessi says:

    Definitely some great tips/rules to yardsale by!

  6. JenBen says:

    I love the tips and I love how you catergorized the people too! It’s so true!! I love to yardsale and don’t do it often enough. Speaking of, I think it’s about time to clear out some more junk from the basement storage area. Hmm…oh but it’s the end of the season…

  7. […] first link I got was a mention as “Insight Everyone Should Read Award”, especially for the yardsale-ing bit, by probably one of the most interesting blog names I’ve run across, Campaign for Unshaved […]

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