yard sale - cookie jar - emailIf you ask me, springtime is synonymous with yard sales. All over America, moms are clearing out their overstuffed closets, getting rid of old, worthless junk. And I’m not just talking about their husbands lying on the couch drinking beer and watching the Poker Channel.

I’m also talking about that lime green Nehru jacket you bought in 1972, which never was in style to begin with. Or that model train set that your kids last played with during the Reagan administration. Or your late ‘60s lava lamp that always leaked pink ooze. Why on earth are you still holding onto all this crap? Remember the Latin saying, Crape Diem (“seize the crap”). Time for a yard sale.

When planning your yard sale, scour your house for things you no longer use. While I know it might be difficult, it may be time to sell your Big Mouth Billy Bass singing plastic fish. Let some other family enjoy the hours of entertainment it has provided to you and your 3 am drinking buddies.

A yard sale is a great opportunity to reduce the clutter and make a profit in the process – and by profit, I mean finally unloading that universal gym taking up two-thirds of your garage, which you bought seven years ago for $1,295, used precisely five times and tried selling for $499 before marking it down to $249, then $149, then $49.95, before finally settling on a $25 Starbucks gift card and a free car wash. (Remind me later to talk to you about your negotiating skills.)

In preparing for your yard sale, there are a few things you need to do. Enlist the kids to help out. Teach them a few things about sales and negotiations. On second thought, given your universal gym fiasco, never mind.

yard sale - thievesStep 1: Give your sixteen year-old, Monica, $20 to go to buy 15 yellow signs to post around the neighborhood.

Step 2: When Monica returns from the store with a pack of post-it notes and some Elmer’s glue, apologize for not providing clearer instructions.

Step 3: Return to the store to buy 15 large yellow signs.

Step 4: Have your fourth grader, Albert, write in LARGE LETTERS “YARD SALE – SAT & SUN” on every sign.

Step 5: Compliment Albert on his excellent penmanship on all 15 signs, each of which very legibly announces YARN SAIL – SIT ‘n SUN.

Step 6: Return to the store and buy 15 new pink signs (they’re out of yellow).

Step 7: Write the 15 signs yourself.

Step 8: Put the signs up all around the neighborhood two days before the sale to generate awareness.

Step 9: While driving home the night before the yard sale, look in astonishment at the freak hail storm which has obliterated every one of your signs.

Step 10: Repeat steps 1 through 8 in the dark, with a flashlight.

Step 11: Collect all the items you wish to get rid of. Invite the kids to bring to the garage those things they no longer want.

Step 12: Affix price labels to all the yard sale items. Might I suggest $50 is a bit steep for your leaky pink heirloom lava lamp?

Step 13: Explain to Albert that while you appreciate his help, you’re not selling his pet turtle Sheldon for $1 million or best offer.

Some things sell like hotcakes at yard sales and others don’t. Great things to put up for sale: Furniture, electronics, health and fitness equipment, bicycles, power tools, toys, and lawn & garden equipment. These will all go quickly.

Things you probably should not try to sell: Pictures of your family’s 1992 vacation to Yellowstone, anything with the words “8-Track”, “Atari”, or “Commodore 64”, anything with a Hello Kitty graphic emblazoned on it, your middle child Frederick (unless you are certain he would go to a loving home), any record album by Jim Nabors, Pat Boone or the Bay City Rollers, your 9-foot tall sculpture of Pamela Anderson you made in college with LEGOs, and finally, your 16-year-old family cat Patches (unless he no longer remembers how to use the litter box, then by all means, get whatever you can for him).

Before you open your lawn for business, be careful to clearly label anything that’s not for sale. One time, while I stepped away to make change, my teenager signed over the title of our Toyota minivan to a guy who had come by looking for hedge clippers. In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t intervened. He actually offered a very fair price, given the transmission was about to go out.

yard sale - simpsons sofaMake a commitment to reduce the clutter in your house. After all, when was the last time you actually used that do-it-yourself dog-neutering kit you bought at someone else’s yard sale in 1994?

Well, I must be off. It’s a nice spring day out. I see the Wilsons are setting up a yard sale down the street. I drove by earlier and I couldn’t believe my eyes. They actually have the complete collection of LIFE-SIZE inflatable action figures from Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace, 25 figures in all, including Jar Jar Binks and Queen Padmé Amidala. (She’s so hot.) They will look awesome in our family room. I’m going to buy the whole set – for the kids. It’s all about the kids.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base. 

Tim Jones - Profile at Safeco - TinyPS:  If you enjoyed this week’s post, please let me know by sharing it on Facebook, posting a comment or giving it a Like.  

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2012

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