Confession time: I like going to garage/yard/estate sales. Yes. I enjoy driving around on Saturday afternoons, pausing at specks of real estate, poring over someone else's life, and occasionally making a purchase.
But I've got something to say to the folks running the sales. Actually, I've got several things to say. You see, I am a customer. I have money in my pocket. I want to buy things, truly I do. And I'm pretty sure you haven't hauled all your crap onto your lawn for the sheer bliss of dusting it off. No, you want to sell that stuff. You want to make some money. Big money, as they say on Wheel of Fortune.
But it just so happens a lot of you are going about it all wrong.
And so, out of the goodness of my heart, I would like to offer you some advice.
Dear Sale-Havers, please heed the following:
*Unless you've got a flat-screen HD TV that's still in working order (in which case you probably wouldn't be selling it), let me break the sad news: Nobody wants to buy your old TV. Especially not for $20. The same goes for your old VCR. And VHS tapes? $3 per? Really? I'm so sorry to have to tell you this, but the 90's are over. I know. There, there. Put away your Hootie & the Blowfish CDs and move on.
*The following items should always go in the Free Box. Never, ever, EVER try to charge people for: Things that are broken, magazines (unless we're talking vintage Saturday Evening Post. Which we usually aren't.), containers with no lids, lids with no containers, half-empty bottles of lotion, previously-lit candles, mysterious pieces of plastic, water-damaged paperbacks, office supplies from the 80's we're guessing you swiped from your workplace, and promotional items from the bank that we know YOU got for free. You're just insulting the laws of nature and decency by sticking price tags on any of these items.
*If your kid is going to contribute to your sale by running his own refreshment/lemonade stand, be a good parent and make him sit out there all day. There's nothing more annoying than a thirsty customer (me) seeing an abandoned lemonade stand and hearing the sounds of an X-Box coming from inside your house. Come on, parents! What about work ethics, huh? What about teaching your offspring about following through on their commitments? What about my insatiable thirst? THINK OF MY THIRST!
*Christmas Items: Okay, look, every single sale has these. And I have never met anyone who goes to sales specifically looking for Christmas items. So you don't need to tell us about your huge collection of tinsel in your ad. I promise, nobody cares.
*Speaking of ads, don't lie to me in yours. It makes me cranky. Figure out what kind of sale you're having and then advertise appropriately. A yard sale is in your yard, usually the front. A garage sale is in your garage. A moving sale implies you have an abundance of crap. An estate sale is in an old/dead person's house. If you're not sure what kind of sale you're having, just call it a sale. Don't tell me you're having an estate sale and then let me show up to see you sitting under a tarp on your driveway with a tableful of dusty old coke bottles and stained stuffed animals. There are just so many things wrong with that scenario, not the least of which is that you're a liar.
*There are many ways to attract people to your sale. Brightly colored signs. Balloons. Arrows. All of these things are good. What probably isn't good is parking Grandpa at the end of your driveway in a lawn chair with his shirt off, his hillside tummy hanging over his lap. Though the occasional passerby might feel pity and decide to spend a quarter just to pay to clothe the old man, most of us are going to keep driving, driving, driving. Cuz that? Is gross.