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Labor of Yard Sale Management and Distribution

Updated on July 7, 2014
ocfireflies profile image

ocfireflies is a retired teacher. She graduated from Appalachian State University with a B.S. in English/Secondary Education.

First and foremost, you must build up your supply of must-haves. This begins innocently enough.

You no longer live at home and can now decorate, design and ultimately be your own architect. If

you believe those brass sculptured cattails will fit nicely with your new found theme (the one you

just thought up) where it is imperative that there is some sort of wall sculpture, you buy them and

later spray paint them various colors over the years as your sense of style grows and changes.

When you pass through the intimacy of delving deeply into the purple phase – the one you go through after a loss such as a divorce-everything seems dark and you suddenly feel this obsession to be wrapped in pinot noir.

Thus, you paint your walls a deep purple. When you ask your dad what he thinks, he says it seems really dark in here. And he is right. Dads are always right. It is dark in here. So little by little, you begin to lighten up the room. You paint your cattails bright white. While one bright white pair of cattails contrasts nicely with the aged pinot noir, you realize you must have a work of art in order to really encapsulate this new idea of bringing some energy indoors.

Pinot Noir


You buy a painting of this serene but active little village in France. You are so proud because you just know you have found one of those Antique Roadshow finds, but it turns out that there are lots of Maurice Utrillo fakes out there, though you do not care because you like it and that is all that matters…

Maurice Utrillo


Before you know it, years go by and your sense of style grows and changes
many times over. Suddenly, you look around and all you see are collections
and collectibles and stuff that do nothing but remind you of someone you once
loved and you want it all gone. You want your warehouse surplus sold
because you are getting ready to turn 50 and you must-have more than
anything a clutter-free environment. There must not be any leftover
reminders of the hurt, the pain, the purples, the blues, the beiges…

Day by day, you start to work on cleaning out closets, cabinets and drawers. From there, you take down the cattails-currently spray-painted silvery chrome, the art, the collections, the collectibles and all the other stuff. You clean them. You decide there are some items you really can’t part with such as all your books that you must-have because you plan on reading them or plan on reading them again. What starts out as an entire bookcase of books dwindles to a couple of stacks of Harlequin-type paperbacks. Interestingly, it is the elderly gentleman who buys my stack of romance novels.

You locate tables and carry them outside. You ping and bang the doorframes. You bruise, cut and scrape different parts of your body trying to get these tables outside. You set up the tables and start digging through the plastic bags (those plastic bags that linens and bedspreads come in) you have stuffed with different lengths of various materials. You find red and blue-striped tablecloths (perfect for this Independence Weekend) that fit your tables and then you start hauling load after load of must-haves. You place them on the tables in attractive and creative ways attempting to display their once grandeur and splendor. You make signs and place them in key locations advertising your grand yard sale. You get your fanny belt that has the change you got when you took your Texas Hold ‘Em winnings to the Coinstar so you would have change.

Finally, the first day of the coolest yard sale ever arrives, and you sit, but not for long because there are hunters on the prey who believe that the early bird does get the worm. You wrote on your signs 7AM – 7PM. Some folks show up at 7AM on the dot. And for the next five hours, you do not sit; you barely get time to run to the bathroom before your next round of customers shows up looking for their must-haves. You are so excited. You think this is awesome:

“I will be done with this distribution by the end of the day.”

Then, just as suddenly as it all begins, it sort of stops. And so for the next forever of your life you wait for that next forever crowd of people.

You wait.

Yard sale hunters still drop by from time to time, and then several hours go by before the next cat on the prowl decides to stop and see if you have his or her particular cat's meow.

You start realizing you must do other things for you can’t just sit outside forever. You must be up and doing things for the wait is driving you crazy.

You become superstitious for you begin to detect a pattern: every time you start doing something the pot boils so to speak but not for long causing you to repeat the process repeatedly: watched pot does not boil/a pot not watched boils


On the last day, you have made it to the midway point in this really good book you are reading, you have weeded a couple sections of your flower garden, you have sit, sat, crossed legs one way, crossed legs other way and stood at least 100 million times, and now it is time to start hauling what once were must-haves back inside, getting tables back through nicked door frames, re-bruising the bruises you got from taking the tables outside in the first place.

Really Good Book!


You think about all the people who took time out of their lives in order to stop and find a must-have. For some of them, the must-have was not found in the objects, but in your company. More than a few people stopped by and stayed a long time, but did not buy anything or bought something for a quarter. These were mainly weary men who had lost their wives. Most of them needed to reminisce so you listened. They talked about how they would take their wives to yard sales and how well their wives could fare at finding the coolest things. How they still have boxes of their wives’ must-haves stored away in a building or a shed or a back room…

I met lots of retired teachers: Most of them looking for toys and books- I did not have- for their grandchildren.

I encountered tourists who absolutely loved the moonshine jugs-souvenirs they could take back to their big cities to show their fancy friends that they had visited the mountains and found these jugs leftover from the old-timey stills.

I connected with a woman struggling with whether she should end her marriage of 33 years who eventually bought the pretty little compact with the mirror.

I was introduced to a neighbor I had never met, a young man “fixin’ to git married.” He bought my big canister of colored marbles for his fiancé because she is using marbles and bamboo as part of the table centerpieces for the reception. It was only after I agreed to accept a wedding invitation did he leave.

One of my former student’s parents dropped by and I learned how this former student I had known with anger issues “had been called to the preaching” and now had two children of his own.

There was the guy who came back twice really interested in my beautiful Pink Queen Conch Shell.

I know I will never forget Nancy and Bill. How wonderful to see a mother and son out together doing something they both seemed to really enjoy.

My last customer showed up on Sunday right after church. Turns out he is a local antiques dealer. He spent less than $20, but will get his investment back three-fold.

In the end, I opened my fanny pack that I had worn for the last few days and counted my earnings.

“Hmmm…” I thought.

“Is that all?”

My sister triples that when she has a yard sale. I must ask her if she will donate a box or two of my nieces’ outgrown clothing the next time I decide I must-have more than anything a clutter-free environment.

I must not have any leftover reminders of the hurt, the pain, the purples, the blues, the beiges…


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    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 3 years ago from North Carolina


      Thanks for stopping by. You are so right. Some really know how to find the best stuff and turn it around for profit. I know I prefer to go to one than to have one. Smiles.


    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      I have never had my own yard sale, but have helped others with theirs. You meet some of the most interesting people I think. Some are really talented and have made quite a living at yard sales.

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 3 years ago from North Carolina


      Thank You for Being You! It is as if you are taking my pulse and recording accurately what is making my heart beat. For each hub you have visited, you have zoomed in on those words and lines I felt the best about and commenting on them in such a way that make me feel a sense of validation. That is the best gift a poet can receive.

      Many Blessings and Much Love,


    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Oh, Kim! You have been there. There’s only one word to describe this fascinating account of the yard sale experience and that which motivates us to do away with “leftover reminders of the hurt, the pain, the purples, the blues, the beiges…” Perfect! This is terrific writing, my friend.

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 3 years ago from North Carolina

      Eddy, Jo, teaches12345 and Suzette,

      Your comments are greatly appreciated and your support is priceless. I am still working on managing the leftover clutter and finding ways to distribute. After putting in all the work to make the event happen, I am finding it difficult to get psyched enough to finish the job.

      Blessings to all,


    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Kim, this is wonderful. It has about every emotion tied up in one piece of writing. I cried, I laughed, and reminisced. This is such a great piece of writing. Do you know, I have never had a garage or yard sale? Reading this makes me want to do one. Just for the fun of it. I live in a condo community and we can't have them unless the whole community votes to have one. Yours sounds so inviting and lovely. I love the conch shell! I have never seen one that big even in Naples. I can relate to getting rid of certain pieces because of the past reminders they bring. But, all in all, it sounds like you had a good time that weekend and talking with the people is sometimes the best part. Voted up+

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      Your post put a smile in my day with its conversation and lively interest. I have had garage sales before that showed little profit but helped to clear my home of clutter. Guess you just have to enjoy the experience.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      What an interesting take on decluttering! I agree with you about the really good book, I'm going to hold on to my copy. Voting up and awesome.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      I loved this Kim; interesting and you kept that interest going. Thanks for sharing.


    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 3 years ago from North Carolina


      I am attempting to get my house move-out ready because there is a chance I may move. Even if there was not a chance of moving, I needed to have the yard sale because I really do want to kind of sweep away some memories in order to make room for new ones. Lots of life changes are up in the air and I am just trying to roll with these changes.


      Once I make up my mind about something, I typically go through with whatever idea. I was determined to have the sale and am thankful I survived the process. Like I said in the piece, I had tons of books I thought I would include in the yard sale, but ultimately a small stack or two of books actually made it. Smiles. Everyone is looking for a certain must-have, and for the folks who stopped at my sale, that must-have was children's clothing and toys. The process really is not complete for there are lots of glass items that will need to be wrapped and packed just in order for me to donate to the Humane Society.

      I hope you have a successful (you define what that is) yard sale and as always thank you for showing me support. Those thumbs ups and shares do help create more traffic--something we are all hoping will happen with our hubs.



    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Kim, I have had a few yard/garage sales in my time. have never made as much as I would have liked, and am always surprised at the junk that sells and the treasures that are overlooked. But as they say, 'one man's trash is another man's treasure." As Bill said this was very well written. It has got me thinking I should have another least try to get some of the books stacked in boxes under beds , in closets, and every spare space. Voted up as always.

    • word55 profile image

      Word 3 years ago from Chicago

      Are you moving or just summer cleaning house?

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 3 years ago from North Carolina

      My hip hop word55,

      I pretty much gave my must-haves away. What I did not sell will be donated to the Humane Society. Always good to see you dear sir.



    • word55 profile image

      Word 3 years ago from Chicago

      Good ideas Kim, I usually give away stuff. Good to see you my dear lady :-)

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 3 years ago from North Carolina


      I am who I am. It is what it is.



    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      This really is a very well-written account of a garage sale. You personalized it and that made all the difference. Nicely done and of course, thank you so much for mentioning my book. That was really very sweet of you to do that.