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The Feng Shui Of Garage Sales In America

Updated on August 6, 2012
So many sales to choose from; so little time.
So many sales to choose from; so little time. | Source
Ample parking is nice!
Ample parking is nice! | Source
Barn sales are my favorite
Barn sales are my favorite

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.

HAPPY SHOPPING!

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:

http://sharynsslant.hubpages.com/hub/Spring-Cleaning-DETAILED-DOs-AND-DONTs-for-a-SUCCESSFUL-GARAGE-SALE

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    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      As an avid hunter and re-seller I agree with some of your points. My neighborhood is having our bi-annual community yard sale this weekend 160+ houses be sure and stop by! I'll cut you a deal!:)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      What a great sale! A bargain hunter's dream come true. Thanks for the invite; I'll let you know if I'm coming.

    • Curiad profile image

      Mark G Weller 5 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      LOL Bill, I think you are a new man an I send Bev a pat on the back!

      Voted Up!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mark, I agree, there is definitely a change in me. :) Thank you my friend.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Did someone say, "Garage Sale"..."Yard Sale"....Estate Sale?".....Hold up, I'm coming! Like you, I enjoy the whole ceremony. Driving and walking around, meeting and chatting with people, haggling over pricing and finally, coming home with a trunk full of "STUFF." Most of all I have the BEST time seeing the look on my husband's face when I get home. It's kinda, sorta.. a combination of horror, disbelief, fretful, nervous, half-smile-half-sorrow, look of hmmmm, I don't know what to call it, really....OH! C'mon, let's go! There's another sale up the street!

      Honey...just put that stuff in the garage..OK? Honey...Jim....why are you crying?

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jim is one hell of a man; that's all I'm going to say. Believe it or not Bev had never been to a garage sale until last summer when I felt it was my obligation to educate her on the American tradition. We went to the first place and I thought she was going to buy them out of everything; I had to explain that we had several others to go to and she might like to pace herself. Now she is chomping at the bit for the weather to warm up so we can go. Women! I'll never understand them! I'll drop you a line when we are going and you can catch up to us on the road.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Well, now I've only held a garage sale about 5 times in my life and I have to shamefully admit that I didn't put prices on the items because: (1) it takes a lot of time; and (2) I figured that the person interested in buying would ask and we would just arrive on a price. When it comes to visiting sales, I love "people watching" - both other buyers and the types of sellers that are out there.

      With spring here (or around the corner), its time to start thinking about getting out there. Maybe I can find a book on Feng Shui... :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      If you find that book, Steph, you will be able to tell me what the heck Feng Shui is. :) It's always nice to see your smiling face pop up; thank you as always.

    • Spirit Whisperer profile image

      Xavier Nathan 5 years ago from Isle of Man

      As I was reading your hub I was looking for the Fen Shui mentioned in the title but your conversation with stephhicks68 answered that LOL!

      Being the devil's advocate here I must once again question a statement you make - "and considering the fact that money will continue to be somewhat of an issue for a couple more years" This is a self fulfilling prophesy so why say things like this and call them facts. They will be facts if you keep saying them!

      Have you ever considered giving tuition to children after school? You could put fliers around and in shops. You are still a teacher!

      Thanks for another great read.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 5 years ago from United States

      haha...no one can dare sue you, Bill :)

      Feng Shui (flow of energy) and Garage sales kinda go together after reading your logistics on his hub...gotta be able to haggle the prices wisely and also know what you really are looking for...or else the stuff from one house will be accumulated in some one else's garage...lol

      voted up indeed!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Xavier, you are of course correct and I will work on erasing old tapes that pop up now and again. Thank you for pointing out what should have been obvious to the teacher. :) Go in peace my friend!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ruchira for covering my behind on the Feng Shui. You are a friend for sure! :)

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I am listening to Patty Page right now - love that song! Funny how you mention surly yard sale people - just doesn't make sense. If you want to sell something you should be nice, but I've run into a few myself.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Love Patty Page and I welcome as a friend anyone with the good taste to listen to Patty Page! :) Thank you for taking the time to visit.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      I clicked the hub because of Feng Shiu in the title. But I'm not suing you because I found your voice very amusing. Maybe I will consider your points while selling my farm machines. lol

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      LOL! I like your bait and switch title! I want my money back - I was all primed to hear Billy's Feng Shui Philosophy! Bummer.

      I'm glad to hear thoughts from the shopper's perspective. I've had just one or two garage sales, and stopped by a few, but I'm no expert. I do remember not being happy when some zealous bargain hunter woke us up before dawn once to get ahead of the crowd. If the ad says 7 am, please honor it! Maybe I was surly - I think I was too tired to remember, though.

      Fun hub! I enjoyed it!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Marcy, I don't think you were being surly. I have never had a garage sale where someone didn't show up two hours early...rather annoying to say the least. Thank for dropping by and I'm glad you found some humor in it.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Vinaya, always a pleasure to have you stop by my site. I'm glad you found it funny; wish I had my farm now so I could take a look at your farm machines. :)

    • adriankhy90 profile image

      adriankhy90 5 years ago from Georgetown

      Great one Billy!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Adrian; I appreciate you taking the time to visit my site.

    • Sky9106 profile image

      Sky9106 5 years ago from A beautiful place on earth.

      Lol- Great billy I won't be surprised anytime if I do see your name on the Ballot sometime in the near future!

      Small town and am sure you are well know . It just came to me.

      Another that speaks truthful and helpful tones , Yes Put a price on it!

      God Bless .

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sky...lol...me and the ballot will not be happening in this lifetime. Thanks my friend and I'm glad you got a laugh from my silliness. Laughter is a wonderful balm for the soul.

    • billips profile image

      billips 5 years ago from Central Texas

      An interesting hub with good information for buyers and sellers alike - some sales are painfully well-organized, and others so chaotic that I don't even pause - the pricing issue is a big one - saves time for everyone and eliminates that feeling that you are being evaluated to see just how much they can squeeze out of you - also, your article does have significant Feng Shui - B.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Billips, thank you! I am chomping at the bit to go to the first garage sale of Spring. Now if only Spring would get here.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      I love this Billy, title and all!!! About a year ago, I wrote a hub on how to have a successful garage/yard sale. It's very detailed because I believe there is some "feng shui" involved in doing it just right! I agree with everything you've said - planning, routing, pricing, kindness, all that stuff! And I also agree that "older is better" - when I go to a sale at a new, expensive house, they might have really nice stuff but they also want more money for the items too. Great hub, got me excited for the weather to change!

      Sharyn

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sharon, if there is a God He will make the weather warm up so we can get our "fix" at garage sales.:) I am so ready to go and just need some sunshine to get me in the right mood. Thanks for your kind words and let me know when you go and what treasures you find.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Great Hub! And I loved that you put Feng Shui in the title. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      phdast7, in truth I don't have a clue about Feng Shui but it sure sounded good in the title. Thank you as always for dropping by.

    • trish1048 profile image

      trish1048 5 years ago

      Oh boy! my favorite topic! I have been going to yard sales, fleamarkets, junk shops, antique stores for 40+ years. My late mother-in-law introduced me to them.

      I then discovered Ebay, and oh my goodness! I was a buyer for a number of years, till my financial picture changed, and the day it changed is when I stopped Ebay cold turkey. Good thing, or my home would have collapsed under the weight :)

      I could go on and on about this, and in fact, have written a hub about just this thing. It seems as I have enough in my head to write still another one.

      I love old things, always have, and I think it stems from crawling around in my grandmother's attic and basement, as well as doing the same at my aunt's house.

      I think a good project for me would be to inventory everything I ever bought from these places, but I fear the grim reaper might arrive first :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Trish, you are hilarious! When we buy our farm I fear what it will look like after five years because I'm a pack rat when it comes to old stuff. We went to a barn sale a year ago and Bev had to drag me out of there before I took the sign literally and tried to buy the whole barn. :) Thank you my friend and have a wonderful week.

    • trish1048 profile image

      trish1048 5 years ago

      Oh I'm so jealous! You're buying a farm? I still have vivid memories of my aunt's farm in OK. I so loved it there. At one point, my late hubby and I considered doing that, but one day he said to me, no, I don't think we should. I asked why, and he said because we'd starve. You'd have a name for every animal and they would all be your pets :) Oh, well. He was absolutely right :)

      On a different note, I was at my favorite fleamarket one day, and came upon this very old table affair. The wood had a gorgeous patina, as well as the brass fittings. It was approximately 4 ft. high and 5 ft. long. It also had 3 drawers in it. You could tell it was quite old, but a very lovely, sturdy looking table. It had a leather top. So, are you ready for the kicker? Turns out it was an old gynecological table complete with the brass stirrups. Oh, did I mention I love unusual things? I thought, at the time, it would make for some very interesting conversations as it sat in my then 25 x 50 living room. The guy only wanted, if I recall correctly, $200 for it. Well worth it in my opinion, but after much deliberation, I thought, nooo,,,people would think I had lost my mind :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Trish, I am howling by myself in the studio right now. I'm sure Bev will be out wondering what the hell I'm laughing about. I am so disappointed in your for not buying that table. :) It would have made the perfect conversation starter and provided endless laughs for years and years.

      When we buy our farm you will receive an invitation to our housewarming party. I wrote a hub about it and we are now less than four years away from realizing that dream.

      bill

    • trish1048 profile image

      trish1048 5 years ago

      Hi Bill,

      You know, the more I think about it, word of mouth may have gotten around and it may well have invited weirdos as well :)

      I would be beside myself with anticipation if I had to wait that long. Is it an existing farm or one you're creating?

      oops, I should probably go read your hub :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      No, Trish, we haven't even looked for the farm yet; once we find it everyone in our circle of friends will know it immediately and then the work will begin transforming it into the farm that we dream about.

    • trish1048 profile image

      trish1048 5 years ago

      I hope you are able to find a very old established farm. When I was a buyer on Ebay, there was a gal who was selling things out of her grandfather's barn. She had the most amazing things. I have several things, one being a WW2 artillery shell that I use as a vase for dried arrangements.

      Good luck in your search!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hey Trish,

      We are off on our search in a couple hours as soon as it warms up a bit outside.

      What a great find in that barn; if I'm half that lucky today I will be happy.

      Thank you my friend and have a fabulous day!

      bill

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      This is a very interesting concept. We just had a garage sale with another family and she didn't put a price tag on a thing. I had price tags on everything. I think it's important to make sure everyone knows what the price is. I wish I had read this before I had our garage sale.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kelley, thank you! I have a hard time writing hubs like this one; they restrict my personality too much and I read them when I'm done and I just want to yawn. I'm glad you liked it, though, and I appreciate you taking the time to stop by.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Pssst...Bill...am I going blind or is the word "America" really NOT in the title????? If not, then you might want to re-work the first paragraph. Just sayin'... (LOVE "Feng Shui" in the title, btw. Catchy, even if nobody knew what it means.)

      I too am - or used to be - a yard/garage/jumble/boot sale addict. (The last two are Brit terms, but mean the same thing as here in the States.) The town I live in now doesn't seem to be a "target rich environment". Rather than have yard sales, the locals open "antique stores" or "flea markets" in empty store fronts downtown, then put "antique" prices on JUNK. You betcha I avoid those places like the plague!

      I'm with you on the half-mil+ upscale homes. They're at the top of my "avoid" list, but one cul-de-sac back in Kansas was a great place to go for a laugh. It was hilarious to park down the street from a "garage sale", watch people get out of their cars, stroll up the driveway far enough to read the price tags, then get right back in their cars without even trying to haggle, because every tag said "FIRM!" under the price. Yeah, right...why not put it on Ebay.

      Similar to what you said, it's my experience people in such homes don't REALLY want to get rid of unwanted items as much as they want to recoup 95% of what they OVERpaid for it in the first place. Sucker!

      Large homes in nice, older neighborhoods I found to be the opposite. They really DID want to get rid of their stuff, usually for pennies, and I always suspected they only offered it at a yard sale as an excuse to meet other nice people. Most of my kids' school clothes and some of my own - all with designer labels and possibly never worn - came from "sales" in those neighborhoods. Also many birthday, Christmas, and gift exchange gifts for work, and none of the recipients ever had a clue I didn't buy them (at retail) in a brick & mortar store!

      Good luck on your buying-for resale venture! ;D

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL....Jama (yes, I know your real name but I'm being secretive today) I didn't even notice the America thing...what was I thinking when I wrote that? I guess it would be easier to just re-write the title. I'm shaking my head.

      We just ran into this issue this past weekend...rich homes...snooty people...horrible garage sale. So we might start narrowing our search to barn sales which are always a treasure chest of goodies. I did pick up a tripod for my camera for five bucks and got Bev a puppet theater, so the day wasn't wasted with regards to garage sales.

      I'm off to fix the title...thanks my friend!

    • profile image

      NanceInWA 5 years ago

      Hey Bill, When I lived in SoCal, my friends, daughter and I would go to Beverly Hills and surrounding communities to yard sale. They had fabulous sales and for the most part the people were very nice! They sold stuff for cheap and I picked up a lot of high end stuff for pennies on the dollar. For example, 2 practically new graphite tennis rackets for $10 each; a wrought iron Italian espresso machine for $12 (retailed for $400)and another smaller one for $7; a ski outfit for my daughter for $40 and tiny skiis for !10; a solid wood card table and padded chairs for $60 (retailed for $350); a solid metal microscope for $3; etc...! I guess it depends on where you live. These people seemed to have the sales for socializing more than making money. It was so fun and miss them a lot.

      BTW, earlier this year, The Barn Sale on Fox Island shut its doors for good....boohoo. I bought so many yard tools and miscellany there.

      http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/04/12/2105289/t... .

      The past several years I have become enamored by salvage shopping, of which there are a few in King and less so in Pierce and Kitsap counties, all near me. Keep in touch! Nancy

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hey, Nancy, thanks for dropping by. I'm laughing...I would love to see a garage sale in Beverly Hills. I can't even imagine. There are some great deals out there if you have the patience to find them. I hadn't heard about the Fox Island one shutting down. That's too bad; I've been there before.

      Thank you and take care!

    • profile image

      NanceInWA 5 years ago

      Oh, and Bill, Beverly Hills High School has an annual rummage sale as well that is fun, with lot's of stuff, but tends to be pricier that the BV yard sales.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Nance, good to know if I ever again return to S. California! LOL...thanks!

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 5 years ago from UK

      A great way to spend time and also accumulate some good ideas for from garage sales: The thrill of finding something special. Great hub, Bill!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Doc! Not one of my favorites but I appreciate your kind words.

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