“All Swords, One Dollar” . . . “Each!”

Swords were the big seller yesterday.  It’s genetic: put any Boy Child between the ages of 4 and 8 within a 6 foot proximity to a plastic sword and the two will become inextricably joined.

That was the highlight of my yard sale experience, seeing little swashbucklers making their way back to the family vehicles brandishing their happy finds.  Thank goodness one of my donators had brought a whole bin of swords.  Plastic, of course.

Not that I’m ever going to have a yard sale ever again, for as long as I draw oxygen into my lungs, you are my witness: never again. However, if I were going to advise someone on the mechanics of such a thing as How to Have a Yard Sale, I would say, load up on the swords.

Reason #1: swords bring joy to the people who would otherwise be moaning, “Can we leave now?” Secondly, if Mommy’s going to go through the exhausting trouble of unzipping her purse, and pulling out her wallet to pay for a Joey’s sword, she’s much more likely to buy something for herself at the same time.

I did a bit of internet research before the big day, and I’ve gotta say, what I learned in 12 minutes of reading saved us.  If it weren’t for skimming the websites of the Yard Sale Freaks Professionals, I never would have thought to go to the bank in advance to get small bills. We’re talking A LOT of small bills: two tens, nine fives, twenty-fives ones and a roll of quarters.  I never would have known to keep the money on me in a travel pouch. I wouldn’t have known that during a sales transaction, it’s wise to keep the payment given segregated in plain view until AFTER the correct change is counted out. I never would have dreamed that one must keep an eye out for shop lifters. And a big life-saver – bags. Shopping bags. I think I might have been the only one among us to remember plenty of bags.  God bless the internet for making this information available to me.  And God bless the Yard Sale Freaks Professionals for spreading such valuable advice.

The whole Yard Sale Experience taught me a lot. Like what? For one thing, Andy is a saint. I’ve known this about him for years, but he continues to top his own saintliness. The man was out of bed at 4:30am to help me load the car. Later, when we arrived at the site at 6am only to find an empty lot – we were the first people there – he wasn’t irritated at all. He comforted me. He walked with me to the nearby gas station, bought me a cup of coffee, and didn’t flinch when I threw it out after two sips. After the sale, he packed everything up and unloaded it at the Good Will. And he had a sweet attitude during the entire day. I feel so fortunate when I think about how kind he is to me. Plus, I adore him. But, I digress.

You know what else I learned? I hate haggling. Don’t make me look you in the eye and insist that shirts are one dollar each over and over again. One shirt, one dollar. Two shirts, two dollars.

The whole experience was heart breaking. I felt utterly guilty when I told a man that a big hardback book of children’s picture stories and two video games would be eight dollars and he promptly put everything back. I felt even more guilty when a woman asked her husband for a dollar to buy a really fun looking green belt and he ignored her while she asked three times.

I learned that grown men cannot resist buying Star Wars memorabilia. It can be dirty scratched up plastic – but if it’s shaped like a Darth Vader mask or a light saber, raise the price. That man pulling up in a BMW, wearing $300 sun glasses and carrying a venti latte is going to give you money for it and take it off your hands.

I learned that I have grossly underestimated the scope of human weirdness.  It’s easy to forget that my daily existence is sheltered beyond my imagination.  For my whole adult life, most of my conscious hours have been spent with people who are paid very well to make moving pictures appear on our screens in theaters and homes all over the world.  I’m surrounded by a reasonably smart, very good looking, physically healthy, well-traveled bunch.  For better or worse, that’s what normal feels like to me.  Yesterday, spending 3 hours at the corner of 83rd and Lincoln, I realized that what feels normal to me is very different than the average L.A. yard sale attendee.

I learned that bending and squatting over a blanket full of merchandise for hours on end exercises a unique muscle group. Training for an endurance event did not prepare my hamstrings for the parking lot marketplace.  Ouch.

I learned that requesting donated items from my friends – and the fact that they did, indeed donate items, was the biggest factor in making the sale a success. One woman I know, and her husband, even drove a truck load of large items to the sale, and later removed the large items that we weren’t able to sell. How kind!

Because of my friends’ donations, I was able to offer a selection of goods for nearly every member of a family. I had an electronics department, games, toys, clothing for boys, girls, men, women, housewares . . . my friends really “eclectisized” the spread & I’m so grateful.

Okay, okay, I’ll stop holding out on you. I walked away with $124. That’s $124 towards The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This put me over my $2000 mark. Now I have less than $400 to raise to make it to the starting line. Not so bad.

As usual, there’s a whole lot to be grateful for. Grateful for the sweet couple with Down Syndrome who bought the duffle bag ($5) and the walkman ($4). Grateful for the 86 year old man who bought the paperback I had purchased for a Sunday school class – “Unmasking the Powers” (25 cents). Grateful for the assertive and beautiful girl who translated so that her parents could ask me about computer games ($5 each). Grateful for the first customer of the day who argued with me about testing the boom box ($7) and later apologized and offered us free coffee from his gas station across the street. Grateful for the last customer of the day who bought the sheet grippers (50 cents), a black cord (25 cents) and the Bug Rug ($8). Grateful for the Good Will that was literally 50 feet away for receiving everything that didn’t sell. Grateful that the whole thing is finally over.

6 thoughts on ““All Swords, One Dollar” . . . “Each!”

  1. I hate having yard sales too…but I also love having the room in my house that I always relish in afterward. There are yard sale experts? That’s too weird…

    Congratulations on the fund raising!!!

  2. My mother in law (to be) is a yard sale freak.. which is brilliant for us because she hunts it all down for us if you tell her you need a certain something. I have to say thought I don’t even you doing this – especially in LA where we both know the weirdo population is denser than anywhere else on the planet. Well done on raising so much though! :D

  3. I LOVE yard sales! LOL. You are right though the haggling part really drives me insane! I once had a NEW violin for sale. It had been played twice. A woman asked me how much I said $20. She wanted it for her 4 year old grandson and she wanted it for $10. I told her that it wasn’t a toy, that it was a FULL sized violin and not appropriate for a 4 year old, they made special sizes for children that age. I thought she was going to S**T right there.

    Then the topper of all toppers. The old woman who walked in to my flower bed with her CROCs on, mashing my mulch and demanded that I dig up some of my bulbs for her….FOR FREE! Scott handled that one!

    Maybe I should post some tips! LOL

  4. Jen – Great yard sale horror stories. You should definitely post tips; I would love to hear them. . . . you know, for that time when, I’m never ever going to have another yard sale. Ever.

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