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" The great American Garage Sale"

Updated on February 13, 2012

Memorial Day weekend is the best garage sale weekend of the summer.

Most of us have been to a garage sale at sometime or another in our lives. Our house is in a mountain community in the Sierra Mountains of California. Memorial weekend is the start of the summer vacation season. The mountains are teaming with people and it seems that there are more garage sales on Memorial Day weekend than at any other time in the summer months.

Even before the signs go up people are showing up from all directions as the merchandise is put out in the driveway for sale.

What is not seen is the work and organization that went into the pricing strategies. The heart wrenching decisions to part with such treasures. Once an item makes the sale list it becomes the subject of discussion. What is this treasure really worth? A dollar or two, maybe five? Its amazing how such a treasure is devalued once it becomes the subject of discussion. Once the price is established the appropriate color code is applied. So far no one has discussed the art of bargaining. Everyone that goes to a garage sale likes to bargain, don't they? The truth of the matter is that most of us really don't like to bargain, but at a garage sale its expected, isn't it? The answer is yes!

At my last garage sale my wife and I had a small gas barbecue to sell, it was only used once. My wife Betty thought we should price it at $5.00. I told her we just bought it for thirty dollars on sale three months ago. She looked at me and reminded me that this was a garage sale. I said OK then put a price of $10.00 dollars on it, if it doesn't sell we'll lower the price tomorrow. She said oh do what you want. So I priced the Barbecue at $10.00 and placed it out on the driveway. About an hour later a gentleman came up and asked why I was selling the barbecue, was there a problem with it? I told him I liked the old fashioned charcoal barbecue better, and I had only used this one once. He gladly took his wallet out and gave me ten dollars. At this point I went over and told my wife, see I told you that we were leaving money on the table. At this point the gentleman wanted to see the piano that we had for sale downstairs, so I told him that I would watch his bargain cooker while he was gone. A little while later the man returned and stood next to me. As we talked we both noticed another man as he admired the barbecue. The man then looked at my new friend, right in front of my wife said that he had been looking for something just like this for quite sometime. He looked at me and asked, how much? I looked back and said its not mine, it's his as I looked at the new owner. My new friend quickly said its twenty dollars, at that the man stood up and reached for his wallet and gladly paid my new friend the Twenty dollars. I thought my wife was going throw my new found friend right out of the garage. My friend turned to me and offered to split the profit, I quickly refused. I realized that he must have seen the look she had in her eyes when he doubled my ten dollar price right in front of her. I told her later that a higher price made more sense in the long run as we could always bargain down if we wanted to really get rid of the item.

Garage sales can be great fun if you don't take yourself too seriously. Realize that the price should be set where the buyer can bargain if they want to as that can be the sole reason that they are there in the first place. When deciding to sell one of your treasures set a bottom line price, a price you are willing to take for the item; don't go below that price, you may sell it the next day.

Its easy to see how going to garage sales can become a hobby. There are a lot of people just like my wife and I who devalue the items that they are selling thinking that they are just getting rid of junk. The fact of the matter is that there are some great deals to be had going to garage sales. In times like we are experiencing in this economy the savings made buying at garage sales makes good sense.


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