Garage Sale Entrepreneur


Garage Sale Technology (DKB)

Every winter our garage seems to accumulate items that, I suspect, just drop out of orbit, so in the spring we have a sale. We figure it’s the next best thing to having the garage professionally demolished. Without the occasional sale we would be getting “nuisance abatement” warnings from the city.

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

This year we actually advertised our garage sale. Having taken a class in advertising in college I know the importance of a snappy presentation, but with a promotional budget of $9.25 I had to settle for a newspaper ad that said, “Garage Sale! Great stuff!” followed by the dates and the address. The signs we put on the streets allowed for a little more creativity except that other homeowners have already used the snappy garage sale slogans like, “Big Sale Today” or “Garage Sale.” These eye-catching banners are definitely passé in the modern world of garage sale technology. In pursuit of the unusual, I settled for a fluorescent pink sign with a little house painted on it and the words, “Splendid Sale Today.” For strategic flare I added an arrow that pointed down our street and a smiley face.

I probably shouldn’t have bothered with the newspaper ad. Anybody that would want the stuff that we have for sale probably doesn’t read anyway. As it was, the ad attracted what are called “early bird” shoppers who circle the house before daylight so they will be there when you first get up. That way they can weasel you out of anything of real value before you’ve had your morning coffee and your brain can manage elementary computations and form coherent sentences. The two that showed up at our sale looked familiar to me although I can’t be sure where. I think maybe the post office—and not waiting to buy stamps, if you know what I mean. They probably wanted to get an early start so they could resell anything they bought and still be on time to their arraignment.

The second “early bird” got there just as Judy was putting out an old piano stool. He bought it for $25.00, which I suspect was low, but Judy, always diligent to get rid of anything that hasn’t been used in the last 48 hours, insisted that it had to go. I am expecting to see a news bulletin in the paper to the effect that a custom piano stool once used by Mozart was purchased at a garage sale and subsequently sold for a gazillion dollars to a collector in Brussels.

Retail Exercise

One of the realities of the garage sale world is the thriving market for exercise equipment. That’s where we got our stair-stepper in the first place—$70.00, if I recall. We used it briefly before we lost it under a pile of underwear.

JunkThis isn’t the first time we’ve done this. Several years ago we bought a treadmill that looked like a conveyer belt with handlebars. After it was clear that we weren’t going use it for running, I started exploring other uses for it. Judy rejected the idea of using it as a pole for our mailbox so I suggested putting it on the dining room table as a kind of linear ‘lazy Susan.’ That didn’t appeal to her either. I think we finally recycled it.

So, you tell me why we bought the stair-stepper. What sense does it make to buy a machine that simulates climbing stairs, that we had to carry up the stairs to the second floor of our house, just so we could climb up on it and simulate going up the stairs?

We lugged it out to the street and asked ten bucks for it.

Toward the end of the day, I always get nervous that all that stuff we dragged out of the garage to sell is still going to be there for me to drag back in. We have quite a few items, including some things that we bought at other neighborhood sales, that have been dragged out and back in more than once. To avoid this, we tried an  innovative marketing ploy this year. We put out a sign that said “FREE!” The results convinced me that there is a direct evolutionary link between humans and piranha. Minutes after we posted the signs crazed citizens, conditioned for years by “blue light specials,” swarmed in to gather nearly every scrap of free stuff they could get their hands on. When the dust cleared we gazed with amazement upon the skeletal remnants of our garage sale. All that remained were a few cardboard boxes, miscellaneous broken toys, and one item bearing a sign that read: Stair Stepper – $10.00.

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