I looked up the definition of “Garage Sale” in the dictionary, and here’s what I think it said, if I remember correctly:
A sale event where you work all week to locate unused junk in the recesses of your house, and sort and label said junk. Then, you give up a whole weekend to haul your junk out to the yard and haggle with people over the price of your junk. When the event is done, you get to pack up the unsold junk—which will be most of it—and take it to Goodwill. In the end, if you are very lucky, you will pocket about 40 bucks. The silver lining in all of this is the fact that your house is a little less cluttered and you get to have a 40 dollar pizza party with your kids. Please try to forget the fact that you lost the better part of a week and also a whole weekend.
Since I remembered about this definition of Garage Sale from my childhood, I was not eager to have my own garage sale any time soon. It seems like my parents had frenzied garage sales every year, while I sat bleary-eyed, eating my cold cereal, looking at all these strange people in our yard.
No, this was not for me. Too much work!
Then, in a moment of supreme weakness, I allowed my sister-in-law to talk me into joining her neighborhood garage sale day. Maybe this will be a good experience for the kids? Maybe this will even be educational? Perhaps the kids could have a lemonade stand and learn all about entrepreneurialism?
When I told my older girls about the impending garage sale, they went into their rooms and each found a box of stuff they wanted to sell. Of course, they grossly overestimated the value of their beloved junk. For instance, my oldest daughter Meredith wanted to charge $7 for a How to Draw book collection. I went on Amazon.com and saw that the same collection, in the same condition, was selling for 23-cents, with a $3.99 shipping fee and that no reasonable person would pay more than $4.22 for her How to Draw book at a garage sale. So, she agreed to sell for $3.
The girls also started preparing for a lemonade stand. My oldest is especially interested in business, and she excitedly made a large sign with pictures and prices and a list of things that might be needed for the lemonade enterprise. We went to the store and bought supplies and kept track of expenses.
The night before the sale, we realized that it would not be the sunny, balmy garage sale experience we had anticipated. Instead, it would be in the low 40s and windy all morning. This called for a change in business strategy. We decided to sell coffee, hot chocolate, and homemade scones instead of icy lemonade.
Since it had been fairly warm the weeks prior to the garage sale, this little dip in temperature meant we all were, basically, freezing during the sale. I was amused watching my sister-in-law—who recently moved from Texas and is still adapting to weather in the North—change her shoes from flip-flops, to Toms, to Ugg-type boots, as the morning wore on and the sun refused to come out.
Many customers / patrons / whatever-people-who-come-to-your-garage-sale-are-called, were under-dressed. The cold weather had caught a lot of people off guard.
Basically, what I am trying to say is: the coffee and hot chocolate sold like gangbusters.
My younger kids, along with their cousins, stayed indoors like any sane person would do on such a cold day. Meredith braved the cold and kept busy selling hot chocolate and coffee, raking in some cash. I looked on, proud of my tough, little entrepreneur.
In the end, even though she sold quite a lot of hot drinks, she only made about twenty bucks in five hours of standing in the cold.
Here is a lesson learned that day: making money can be hard work!
Of all the people who came by the garage sale, my favorite was a grandma in search of items for her two-year-old granddaughter. She bought a sturdy little tricycle I was selling for five dollars. All four of my kids rode that tricycle, and I smiled at the thought of another child getting some enjoyment out of it, too. I smiled even bigger when I realized that I also bought that tricycle at a garage sale. I bought it more than ten years ago, and I also paid five dollars for it.
See? Garage sales are awesome!!
And, guess what? For all my efforts, my house is a little cleaner and…I pocketed about 40 bucks.
Photo Credit: First image graphic design by Charity Klicka; all other photos by Amy Koons.