Liam's Yard Sale

by LiamBean

If you want an up close and personal slice of bargain hunting Americana there's no better way than to have a yard sale.

You'll need plenty of patience, both in picking out what you'll sell, and in dealing with the small parade of odd-balls, neighbors you haven't met before, and annoyingly garrulous passers-by.

But I can guarantee that you are certain to have an interesting, if not entertaining time passing your junk on to the next group of people.

Timeline of Events

The Aggravation Begins

One week Before
I’m beating myself up. I know I not only don't have room for this stuff, I don't even need it. What’s my problem?  “Well,” I think “you bought it, It must have been important at one time or another.”

I wrack my brain, willing myself to part with old unneeded possessions. I don't need that trophy for doing something special (what escapes me) in third grade. The bean-bag chair got a month's use before I realized I'm getting too old to try to climb out of that thing no matter how comfortable. The old drill is never used any more. It has been sitting around gathering dust for the past six months since I bought the new drill. Then there are those end tables that no longer match the rest of the furniture and likewise are gathering dust in the garage.

Ah, the garage. So full of junk that I can't get the car into it anymore. There's an area ripe for the picking. I wonder if I can get rid of that twenty year old string trimmer? Maybe someone will want the old folding lawn chair with one nylon strap missing; in the seat of course.

I'll work this out. Cry over a few things that I keep because of the memories, not because they are useful. Scratch my head over purchases that simply didn't make sense when I made them and make even less sense now.

One day before
The garage is still not empty enough, but I can get one car in now — it's a two car garage. Clean everything (somewhat) and determine a price. Haggle with myself about this price or that price. Ask a neighbor what they'd pay for something and get a laugh and nothing more for an answer.

The whole process should take six to eight hours depending on how attached to these things I really am. Good thing I'm doing this the day before. The stress of trying to do this "the right way" means an unpleasant evening. Eventually, some things will go out because they need to, but they'll go out without a price. What else can I do? One item is a set of curling weights. Five pounds to twenty pounds in five pound increments. I have no idea what price to put on them. I'll figure it out later. Other things are so pitiful I'm almost ashamed to put a price on them. Almost.

I also decide to set up a laundry basket of "stuff" and put a fifty cent each sign on it. I'll figure out what to put in the basket later.

Price Gun Wanted
Next I need to find tags somewhere and put the prices on my <cough> "treasures."  I don't want to use those self adhesive dots. After all, you want your "customers" to have to deal with adhesive that won't come off because the price tag has been sitting in the sun all day.

A good pricing strategy is to ask for more than you expect and less than actual worth. While you don't expect to sell anything for the price you put on there, over pricing something means it goes back in the garage. Not an attractive prospect.

I try to be reasonable and expect to part with my "stuff" for less than I think fair, but more than just giving it away, although at some point even giving stuff away becomes attractive later in the day.

At least I've been smart enough to get ten one dollar bills and about five dollars in change.

Ha, did I say smart enough?

Down to the Wire

One hour Before
I post an ad on-line and let people know where I am. Make some signs to put on the cars now parked out front. One each facing traffic in both directions. I'll put the signs up after I eat breakfast.

One Half Hour Before
I start putting some tables and shelves in the yard to put stuff on. I want my "customers" to be able to walk around and see what I have for sale. No crowding and have individual items "angled" so my prospective buyer can see what it is.

Part of this means finding some furniture that I don't have any need for. I use some beat-up tables and chairs for that purpose. I'm sure to have at least one chair; two is better if I can find a second one. Check for spiders around the legs; no one wants spiders jumping at them.

Heck. I've dithered around so much I can't sit down for breakfast. A slice of toast with spread and a cup of coffee is all I have time for and I'll have to drink the coffee out there in the yard.

Crunch Time

The Torture Begins

I'll put on some sunscreen as soon as I put the signs out.

As I go out the front door to put the signs on the cars, there are people standing on the sidewalk looking at the "stuff." The "sale" (and I use the term loosely) starts at eight. It is now a quarter to eight.

It is a couple and I don't recognize them; they aren't from the immediate neighborhood. Behind them is a pickup truck the bed of which is loaded with another person's yard sale. It's an older couple, likely in their sixties, they are dressed for work. The man addresses me.

Man: "I'll buy everything here for $100."

Me: "Are you kidding?! This stuff is worth more than $100." I try, but fail to keep the indignation out of my voice.

Man: "Are you sure? I'll even pick it all up; you don't have to do anything. How about $125?"

Me: calmer now. "No, thank you. Maybe if you want to come back you can have whatever is left."

I'm an idiot and this man is my savior, but I don't know that right now. Like any good angel he doesn't take "no" for an answer the first time.

He's trying to save me and I'm too stupid to realize that. But I will later today.

First Customer

Of Course He Wants the Weights

The Athlete
The next "customer" to show up wants the weight set. This is the one item I couldn't figure out a price for. Of course, he sees no price and asks me "What do you want for this set of weights?"

"I have no idea," I say

Man: "How about twenty bucks?"

Me: "How about twenty five?"

Man: "Sold!"

He happily walks away with five sets of weights.

A Word About the Weights
Weights don't wear out. They are cast iron and have no moving parts. They are the moving parts. I sold at least sixty dollars worth of weights for twenty-five. I'm elated though. My first sale and he had the exact change and he didn't even want a bag.

The Day Wears On
The next items to sell ensure that the rest of my day is less than the idle comfort I was looking forward to.

More Sales

As the Day Wears On the Seller Wears Out

Naturally the next thing to sell is the furniture. Both the tables and chairs. Since I was using that furniture to display the actual sale items naturally that was the next thing to sell. They even wanted both chairs.

Live and learn? Not me!

Planning ahead and having not one, but two chairs didn't make a bit-o-the-difference. The fellow in the picture at left had the brightest idea.

I should have put a futon out there that no one could possible want and sat on that. Heck, I could even lay down when things got slow.

To make darned sure it didn't sell I would be sure the futon had questionable stains on it. That way I have something to sit on.

Now that the furniture is gone I end up with little odds and ends, you know the small stuff that really shows up better on something. It all ended up laying around the yard on tarps.

I am also now faced with the real possibility of not being comfortable. I have no chair and no place to sit. Also, no "good" furniture will come outside because I don't want to spend the day haggling over something I'm not going to sell.

Hey, but at least I sold something other than the weights.

The Bored Neighbor

A Lovely Conversation
Inevitably someone in the neighborhood has to come by and ask why you I'm selling my "stuff." Often they guess too.

Neighbor: "Are you in trouble?"

Me: "No, just getting rid of some "stuff.""

Neighbor: "Are you moving?"

Me: "No I just decided I don't need two sewing machines, two food processors and four TVs." I can be a bit of a smart a$$.

Neighbor: "Ah! Did you hear about Mr. Smith down the street?"

Me: "No, I didn't." (someone's banging "stuff" around) Can you hang on?" to the pan banger "Yes, can I help you sir? Ah, just looking. OK."

Me: "What about Mr. Smith?"

An hour long story ensues and by the end I have no idea what the beginning of the story was. I feel a bit bad about this. She's a nice woman and deserves my rapt attention, but this is turning out to be more work that I expected.


Author supplied
Yard Sale Stuff
Yard Sale Stuff
Author supplied


Between seeming hours of boredom and discomfort I have little rays of sunshine.

One lady bought a four foot length of holiday tensile I didn't even know was out there. She paid twenty-five cents. She felt the need to explain to me that it was for a matching bit of tensile she already had. I had the good grace to keep a neutral look on my face and not laugh.

I don't want to make a bad assumption here, but there are crazy people living in California. Often it is best to smile and nod and make no sudden moves.

Another guy bought four plush toys that were my nieces' as a baby. As she's in her twenties now she probably didn't want them any more. He got all four for a dollar; they were for his dog.

A workman didn't have quite enough for a cut-off saw I had out there. He had $75 and I wanted $100. He promised to come back and because of that promise I refused to sell it to the two other guys who showed up later with the right amount of money.

Of course the first guy never returned and neither did the other two. The saw ended up back in the garage.

Did I mention that I'm a fool?

Long Hours of Boredom
By ten most of the people who planned to come by had come and gone. I am bored out of my gourd, but I'm committed (or should be) and determined to see this through to five o'clock.

Around one in the afternoon hunger forces me inside for lunch. Naturally, this is when someone shows up. I slap together a PB&J and dash back outside.

No sale!

At least I got some water and a bag of chips. There's nothing as important as good nutrition.

Mr. El Cheapo

The Price is Never Low Enough for Some

From time to time I get ridiculous offers. I don't mind haggling; I like to do it myself, but under a dollar for something I paid thirty for?


There's a glint in his eye; the glint is driven by "THE DEAL."

Bargain Hunter: "I'll give you a dollar for this."

Me: "I don't think so. It's worth twenty."

BH: "How about two dollars."

Me: "How about ten."

BH: "I'll give you seven."

Me: "Deal."

We finally settle on a price we can both live with. He's happy and I'm happy.

Today isn't so bad; one silly offer and quite a few reasonable ones.

Cash is lining my pocket even it if is mostly ones. Almost all of it is what I started with too.

Rampant Indifference

It's now closing in on four in the afternoon.

It was bound to happen. There's still "stuff" in my yard that I'd rather not haul back in. I start eyeballing each passing car, craning my neck, willing the diver and or passengers to stop and take a look at my "stuff."

It really doesn't work though. I finally figure out that it might actually be frightening people off so I stop.

It's getting later and later in the day. There is still more "stuff" for sale than sold. I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that the yard sale is a bust. I'll have to move the car back out of the garage and put most of this "STUFF" back in there.

Where's that older couple with the pick-up truck?

Heck! I'm left with...

Some of my "stuff" won't sell no matter how nice, clean, and cheap it is. This is why I keep putting "stuff" in quotes when the most descriptive word really can't be used here.

For that reason I needed to be prepared to take the "stuff" back inside. In my case I'm pretty happy because the heavy furniture sold (even though it wasn't actually for sale) and I didn't want to haul it even a foot.

But I have some other nice "stuff" left over that is highly function, clean (I know, I cleaned it) and still works. Silly people. All this great stuff and no one wants it.

But the real fool is the one writing this.


Will I do this Again? Yes. Well, Maybe.

Had I any good sense I'd have sold the entire yard for the $100 the older couple offered me early this morning. It would have been done, over with, and I'd still have made more money in less time than the meager amount I made today.

At the end of the day, after putting the majority of the "stuff" back in the garage I have enough to buy a delivery dinner. Good thing too; I am too beat to cook.

I forgot to put on the sunscreen.

One glass and chrome bookcase went around the side of the house. I was just too tired and it too heavy to drag back into the garage. It was put in a very narrow area between my place and my neighbor's house, behind a shrub. Completely invisible from the street.

It disappeared overnight.

Updated: 09/06/2016, LiamBean
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


LiamBean on 03/22/2013

LOL. Good idea.

georgettejohn on 03/21/2013

I agree with Catana though I have never actually had one! I attempted it by hauling everything to the porch and garage but became overwhelmed and that is where it all remained until I hauled it back into storage! Someday...

LiamBean on 03/20/2013

LOL. Thanks Catana!

Guest on 03/20/2013

Been there, done that. Going to yard sales is much more enjoyable than running them. And there are crazy people everywhere.

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