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The Feng Shui Of Garage Sales In America
Before we begin let me say a word about the title of this article. True, I live in the United States, and true, I used the word “American” in my title. As I have had pointed out in the past by some ever-vigilant readers, there is more to America than just the United States. I recognize that fact but I also recognize the fact that Canada and Mexico have garage sales too so I’m feeling pretty safe using that word this time around. If any of you care to argue further please contact my agent and she will be more than happy to field your complaints and give you some rather vivid suggestions about future comments.
I am a veteran garage sale attendee. I totally enjoy driving around on a Saturday afternoon looking for bargains and interacting with the people and I am quite eager for the warmer weather to arrive so I can continue this tradition.
What follows are random observations about garage sales, or yard sales if you prefer, for those of you who for whatever reason have never attended one. I am changing my focus this year for the first time. In the past I have roamed the streets of Olympia looking for great deals on items I just couldn’t live without, the purpose being to supplement my eager holdings and pick up a few items that may not be necessary but would indeed be nice to have. Used books have always been a big attraction for me as are DVD’s and the occasional kitchen implement that I seem to lose on a yearly basis. Where do those cheese slicers go?
This year, however, I have decided to go in search of items I can re-sell. Now that I work as a freelance writer, and considering the fact that money will continue to be somewhat of an issue for a couple more years, I have opted to supplement my income by finding those treasures that can net me a little profit.
With that introduction out of the way let us move on to my random observations about garage sales.
PLAN A ROUTE
If you are going to garage sales hoping to make some money, as I am, it is a bit counter-productive to drive aimlessly around the city wasting four-dollar-per-gallon gasoline. Since my home town of Olympia is relatively small it is no problem to plan a route that will keep my mileage down and still allow me to see ten sales in a small area.
Having said that, if you are planning on having a garage sale then I would suggest you advertise. I look at the classified ads the night before so I can plan the route. I rarely drive aimlessly in search of a sale since there is just no reason to do so. If I should stumble upon a sale that was not advertised and is on my route I will stop; otherwise all of those unadvertised sales will have to carry on without my visit.
PUT A PRICE ON THE DAMN ITEM
I do not like sales that have no prices. I am not there to guess; I may be there to haggle but I need a starting point from which to begin haggling. Just as garage sales are a time-honored tradition so is haggling. Paying the marked price is just plain silly. The people having the sale want to make money and I want to save money. Eventually we can agree on a price that makes us all happy but we need to have a ballpark figure to start off the negotiations. I have been to quite a few sales where the person tells me to name a price; that puts me in a tough situation since I am basically a nice guy. If I name a price too low I feel like I am cheating them and they will inevitably think I am a louse. If I name a price to high then I leave feeling like a loser and that is not how I want to feel on a Saturday. Please, put a price on all the items.
KINDNESS IS NOT OVERRATED
I have walked out of sales because the homeowner is just plain rude and surly. Part of the enjoyment for me is meeting people and interacting with them. If you don’t want me there in the first place, which is what I surmise by your attitude, then why did you have the sale? I have, in fact, paid more or bought more than I had planned because some people are just so nice. They made me feel good with their friendly attitude and I made them feel good by buying in a frenzy fueled by that good feeling. Win-win situation all the way, baby!
I plan on bringing Bev with me to every garage sale. She is so genuinely nice that I think she will save us money with her personality. She is, in fact, my secret weapon. Those poor homeowners won’t know what hit them once they meet her. We will probably score tons of free stuff just because of her smile. Yes, I am in love with the woman.
WHAT I PLAN ON BUYING
Now that my focus has shifted I no longer will be buying items I think I need. Instead it is all about profit, on a very small scale of course. I don’t think Bill Gates has to worry about me moving in next door anytime soon but still, it would be nice to be in the black instead of the all-too familiar red come tax time.
Old furniture that we can re-finish will be in my sights this year, as will old, weather-beaten wood which I can use to make garden planters. I have a few designs in my brain and all I need is the wood. Interesting items that can be used as off-beat planters will also be scooped up; a fresh coat of paint and some dirt and seeds should do the trick.
Electronics are out; too unpredictable and most can be purchased new for a song and a dance so why bother with used when the history is sketchy? I will also be looking for pvc pipe and other items I can use to make something else out of; I do not want large items because they take up too much room for storage and hauling is tedious. This is strictly a small-scale operation and I am happy with that.
Used glass will attract my attention as will old doors and windows. Nix on the electric tools; see the same rationale as on the electronics.
OLDER IS BETTER
I’m not a big fan of garage sales at upscale homes; show me a home that cost over a half-million and I’ll show you a home with nothing for me. I love garage sales at old homes that have been in the family for decades; there are some serious treasures there just waiting for the discerning eye of yours truly and Bev’s smile. Old folks love Bev; go figure! Barn sales are a must and I might try my hand at an estate sale or two. The real bonanza is when a neighborhood pools their resources and has a joint sale…..no, not that type of joint! Five to ten neighbors gathering all of their items and making one large sale just saves me gas money and makes me a happy man. However, it has to be an older neighborhood; none of these planned community sales where items are overpriced by 50% because the people don’t understand the basics of a garage sale.
So today is March 7th. The weather in Olympia is iffy at best but we can plan on some decent days in a month or so and then it will be time to gas up the car and get ready. Oh, by the way, if you are new to this pay attention to when the sale begins. If you saunter in four hours after the start of the sale you may as well turn around and go home; all the good stuff has already been purchased by me. If you are wondering where I am shopping on any given day just look for the glow in the distance; that will be Bev smiling.
Oh, if you were wondering about the title of this article, I really know nothing about Feng Shui. I just liked the sound of it. So sue me!
2012 Bill Holland (aka billybuc)
To read another great article about garage sales see the following:
- Lifestyle Choices: Leaving The Rat Race Behind
Leaving the rat race behind is a lifestyle choice. Social issues like unemployment and debt can be guarded against but it takes a conscious decision and willingness to change.
- Debunking Misconceptions About Olympia, Washington
The truths about the sad city of Olympia, Washington, totally misunderstood by the rest of the world.