Friday, August 28, 2015

Yard sales ... from the other side

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

And so it's time to empty out my Mum's house of a lifetime's worth of stuff.  But wait!  My brother and I want to downsize, too.  So we've been heaping our stuff over in our mother's garage for weeks.  And sale time had arrived.

It took weeks to clean and sort and price everything.  WEEKS.  Working at it EVERY DAY.  So it was with a bit of nerves that I approached sale day.  Except ... my brother went off on a long-planned vacation.  I decided to go forward with it because we knew we were going to have more than one sale simply because we needed to clear out the house so we could clear out the basement.  (I see more WEEKS of work ahead of me.)

Since I go to yard sales every week, my brother decided that I should price everything but the tools.  (I think he did that just to get out of some work.)  I thought I priced things fairly, because I know what I would pay if I were going to a yard sale.  (Some people want the MOON for their stuff.)

I put an ad up on Craigslist, we put out signs, and the sale started.

I couldn't believe it when four cars showed up at EXACTLY 9 am. One piece of good luck; one of the neighbors decided to hold a yard sale, too.  That meant we were getting double coverage.  YAY!

Most of my customers were very nice.  (Women, of course.)  I understand that it's part of the game to haggle, but some people were truly obnoxious (and most of them were men). The worst are the dealers. Who else would come to a sale within 15 minutes of opening and insult you by demanding less than half of what you have priced an item for?  Mind you, I was a dealer for 12 years, but I never came to a sale and tried to bully anyone to lower a price.  If I didn't like the price, I walked away (and I still do. That could be why I wasn't exactly successful as a dealer, but I never felt bad about it, either).  My brother would have given them what they wanted, but then my neighbor Amy says her husband would do the same thing. ("A bird in the hand" and all that.)  Since my brother had priced the tools, he told me certain prices should be firm.  He said I could do what I wanted about them ON THE SECOND DAY (not the first hour).

One man wanted some big wood clamps. My brother had marked them $5 each.  This man decided he wanted to pay $6 for both of them -- DURING THE FIRST HOUR of the sale.  So, he holds the clamps in one hand and shoves $6 in my face.  "I want these for $6."  Since they weren't a "FIRM" item, I said, "I'll sell them to you for $8."  He said, "No, I want them for $6." I said, "$8."  He started getting louder and louder and then said, "Honey, you don't know how these things work," then he turned around slammed them back against the bench and left.

I felt like sticking my tongue out at him.

It was later that I wondered if I should have stuck to my guns--because I got to thinking ABOUT guns, and how childish and unreasonable people can be when they don't get their way.  And that there have been some yard sale robberies in my town this summer.  But that man was being unreasonable.  And many other people who visited the sale remarked about how fair the prices were.

I know we have one more sale ahead of us, and then we'll be doing Craigslist and eBay for the rest. I can't say I'm looking forward to it.  A couple of friends have suggested I just pack everything up and give it to charity, and take a BIG deduction. But it's not just about money.  It's seeing my mother's treasures find new (and loving) homes. Parting with things was always hard for her, and it's just as hard for me to part with her things. I see her clothes on the rack and think about how she always looked nice in that shirt or sweater. It makes me sad. But she's beyond using the item, and it doesn't fit me. It needs to go.

I'll be glad when the house is empty and it's no longer my responsibility to take care of it and her things. But I will be infinitely sad, too.

If you've been in the same position, how did you handle these things?

23 comments:

girlygirlhoosier52 said...

Gads, I'd forgotten how cheap some people are!! I got whined at because my yard sale didn't have any guy stuff. Hello, the ad said women and children clothing, toys, and books. Sigh.. I go with the attitude of what goes around comes around.

Geneva Stokes said...

I hate yard sales!!! Just something I could never get into, but I lost my mom in 2008, at the age of 87, my dad had been dead 20 years she sold the house to my brother at that time, we (5) kids went through and took what we wanted. So that deal was done before she passed. She moved in with my youngest brother as a built in babysitter. BUT kept her bags packed and traveled among friends, cousins and us kids. I have been very thankful, I never had to go through the chore of cleaning out her house. I miss her everyday, but know she is in a better place.
The sharp hurt will get easier, but you will never forget.

AnneL said...

It's scary nowadays, the way people treat others. I'd say stick to your prices or close to them. I hope you are not alone while you're doing the sale. If I were closer, I'd come help you. Take care.

Mary P said...

I had a yard sale a while back. I had the prices on things labeled. If I thought an offer was reasonable, I would accept it. If you feel your price is valid, stick to it. Next time have at least one other person with you. I send you my sympathy on the loss of your mom and dad. I understand what that feels like..

Cheryl du Laney said...

Had to clean out my mom & dad's house, too, and have held my own moving sale. Most people wanted little cheap stuff & furniture ended up being donated, along with clothes. Costume jewelry, pretty dishes, etc. mostly went to dealers. Now I wish I'd kept a bit more of that stuff, but then I'll just have to get rid of it anyway as I start to downsize. On my last clean-out of a friend's place after her death, after giving things to other friends, I took a lot to a re-sale shop & they took about 50%, so I've seen better money from that, than from a garage sale. Still had to donate a lot, though. In my opinion, garage sales are more work than they are worth.

Karen in Ohio said...

Egads, just thinking about the prevalence of guns causes me to think twice about all kinds of things these days. Isn't that upsetting, to realize how bullying has ratcheted up in such a way? Which is what the gun thing is about, when you get down to it, in many cases. Bullying with bullets.

We had a big estate sale when my father-in-law passed away, several years ago. He was 93, and they had lived in their house for 67 years, so it was full to the rafters with stuff. I still have not gotten rid of everything, nine years later. But we had the same thing, with mostly men trying to bully me. One woman, though, took me aside and told me not to sell one piece because it was very valuable. It had a chip in it, but she told me the price I'd marked it was ludicrously low, and I should just save it for my own children. Which was very kind of her. I know I sold a lot of things for much, much less than they were worth, but everything needed to go.

Do you know about Everything But The House? They will sell certain things for you (including entire households full of whatever) on their auction site. It started here in Cincinnati, not far from my home, and they have expanded all over the country. EBTH is especially good for selling art and artifacts, jewelry, and collectibles, sort of like eBay, but you don't have to manage anything.

Jeannie D. said...

My Mama passed away in March of this year and my Daddy had passed in 2011. She had been sick for a year and we had to move her from their home. Luckily she helped us decide what to sell and what to keep at that point. We had a yard sale and like you some people were just down right rude. When she had to be placed in a Hospice, we were lucky in that the neighbor was a reseller and took the furniture that was left and the odds and ends my daughter and I didn't want to keep. It would have been hard for me to have had one after she passed, as sentimental as I am I would have wanted to keep everything. There were still several things I wished I had kept. My daughter kept my Mom's clothes and is going to make a quilt from them and some teddy bears for the grandkids.

emilia.m said...

I'd probably trash my own place and put like 80% of things there, simply because all would be memories...
Had one garage sale in my life. My Husband said - never again. Like you said - people wanted anything and everything for like $1. or less. or free. phew...

NoraA said...

When we travel on vacation my partner and I stop at tons of yard sales. She looks at the glass and I look at books and comic books. I also look for anything odd that grabs my fancy. Since we have to shlep anything we buy back to Brooklyn. I'll look at the posted price, consider how much lower the home owner might go and say to myself "Self, do we really need this or do we just want it?" I buy a lot less that way and there's peace in my home.

SiChiang said...

I did garage sales with my Mom many years ago, and sometimes antique dealers would show up just before the sale started. They knew how to haggle over prices, and some were real rude.
When Mom and our brother passed away, my sister and I had Dad put in a nursing home. Then we had to have sales to empty the house, and sell the house before the bank took it. Plus there was lots of stuff to throw out, so we filled 2 dumpsters. We had sales every weekend for a month. It was a lot of aggravation and very exhausting. That was 14 yrs. ago. Dad passed away 2 yrs. after we sold the house.

Lelia said...

It might be easier on you/family to put things into an antique mall. Rent a booth a few months.

Lorraine Bartlett said...

LOL -- been there, done that (for 12 years in fact). Wayyyyy too much work (not that getting ready for these sales hasn't been a mountain of work).

Lorraine Bartlett said...

I've had that happen before. Or dealers who arrive 4-5 hours into the sale and get nasty because all the "good stuff" is already gone. Hey, the ad said 9. You weren't there,somebody else bought it. One dealer asked me to call him if I put out any more vinyl records. I went through my stash and put them out the second day. I dutifully called him, and he practically ORDERED me not to put them out in case someone else looked at them before he got there. I ignored him. Wouldn't you know he tried to chew me down on the price when he got there.

Lorraine Bartlett said...

I miss my mother every day. And I keep thinking ... oh, I should tell her .... I always heard people say that and wondered why they could "forget" the loss. It happens.

Lorraine Bartlett said...

Mr. L stayed with me the whole two days. We're going to have to do it again,and my neighbor said she would hang out with me when my brother can't be there. Some of the people who come are really scary looking.

Lorraine Bartlett said...

Thank you, Mary.

Lorraine Bartlett said...

Mr. L agrees with you. I don't know about any resale shops in my area. I'll have to investigate. Thanks for the idea.

Lorraine Bartlett said...

The reason we decided to do this ourselves was because we found out that some estate liquidators take up to 90% of the income made from a sale. It is a lot of work, but we also didn't want people traipsing through the house. Of course, right now it looks like the place has been ransacked (my brother's words), but after this sale, I think I can safely make decisions on stuff that just won't sell and isn't donateable. I think the tote will be full on trash day.

Lorraine Bartlett said...

I'm very sentimental, too, which has made this sorting hard. My mother had so many unfinished projects. I put them in packages with notes that implored "FINISH ME" and only a couple of them went. I hope more go in the next sale.

Lorraine Bartlett said...

I hear you about the exhaustion. I try to put in a few hours a day over at the house, but it has really cut into my writing time. But we have a short window left for yard sales, etc. (they end by October in this climate). I need to convince my brother that time is of the essence. I'm crossing my fingers he listens.

Shirley said...

There is a Quilting Classified Facebook page you may want to check out. Quilters love buying another quilter's stash!

Shirley said...

There is a Quilting Classified Facebook page you may want to check out. Quilters love buying another quilter's stash!

katherine is love said...

I wish you the best of luck. That guy had no right to be rude to you like that, and the insult you to boot!
I think garage/yard sales are the best way to go in letting go of a loved ones things. When my grandpa passed away, my dad and his siblings had a large yard sale. They kept the sentimental stuff (photos of course, homemade furniture, certain books and artwork) but the rest was sold. My problem is that to me, EVERYTHING is sentimental! I have a hard time getting rid of anything, and I know that when my parents pass, it will be heart wrenching to go through what they have.