When I was in college, my mother always told me to go to the garage sales in Lincoln, especially the ones around the Country Club neighborhood. I didn’t end up going to many until a couple of months ago, and that was to find one birthday present for my husband and for research.
What did my research unveil? We are in some sort of recession. Some ladies were getting together with friends to sell 2-3 mid-sized items and all of their newer seasonal shoes. People were getting rid of heirloom-quality hand embroidered tableclothes by the pound.
This week I got to see the effect from the other side of the till. I would say 75% of the people who bought things were buying them for someone else, a family member in need, a friend who has a similar collection, the man who bought 5 pairs of size 4 womens’ shorts. Everyone is looking for some sort of baby clothes, and we had none.
The other observation that surprised me was the amount of elderly and non-english speaking folks really outweighed every other group. We had a very large amount of newer immigrants buy items at the sale, and they are not afraid to ask for a lower price! A lady from Syria bought up most of the plates for her sister. An eastern european couple came back every day. The last day, they only picked out from the “free” box, and even asked for a bag for their free stuff. Before one Laotian couple would buy our old blender, they required a demonstration.
Some assumptions we had at our sale were that if someone would pay $.10 for a knickknacky thing, they’d pay $.25. If they asked we’d come down, but that kept our change in quarters. If there were multiple items, we’d say 10/$1.
Now for the embarrassing parts. I had a lot of gift bags I had accumulated over the years. I don’t want to pay to move them, so we sold them. I kept my bags in pretty good shape, and people really bought them up. We didn’t make that much money, but people seemed to think it was an interesting concept. I even had a pile of tissue paper and wrote “Take what you need” by it. Sometimes if stuff is free, people just hoard it. This way, people pay a little for it, and want to get their investment back by actually using the items.
Final words of wisdom:
-candles do not sell, even new ones, unless they are large Yankee candles at least 3/4 of the way full, and even then you can’t get more than $1 for a used candle.
-no one wants a used 2-slot toaster, no matter how clean. no one wants used luggage. no one wants to buy unused adult socks.
-if you have a Thursday-Friday-Saturday sale, Thursday and Saturday morning will be your busiest time.