Posted in garage sales

Garage Sale, Step One

I am sure that those of you who have been following my blog for any length of time have wondered what could possibly be going on in my life to thwart my previously frequent postings.  In fact it is not one what. Instead, it is more of a series of things. Besides working on my book and sorting through my mother’s things for an upcoming garage sale, I have also been hired for freelance work with the local newspaper. My first feature article in 17 years will come out either in next week’s paper or in a late April Workforce section. I don’t count the feature I wrote about our grandson Jacob for the week of the benefit supper because that was mostly written from a blog posting on the same subject. For this current feature I interviewed four local business people, including my sister Pat, and found that I really enjoyed it. I’ve always thought of myself as a shy person so it continually amazes me to realize I love public speaking and enjoy going out in the public and meeting interesting people.   (It is the non-interesting people I could do without.)

Now that most of my mother’s items are priced, I have started working on my own. I must say it takes a special husband to put up with the mess I make when preparing for a sale.  It is nice to have a storage area to hide things beforehand, but once I start pulling it out to price, it isn’t pretty.

This is what I have priced so far. I have more on the back porch and a lot more on my attic steps.

Since I am emotionally spent (going through my mother’s things day after day tends to do that to a person) I don’t forsee writing any heartfelt entries on here until after my garage sale is over. Instead, I thought it might be fun to let my readers follow me through a garage sale preparation and the sale itself.  For anyone contemplating a sale, I might have some good ideas. For those who have held a sale, I will garner some empathy. I have been holding successful garage sales for many years, from the days I lived in Cedar Falls as a mother taking college classes and selling her extra refund premiums to the days of lugging vans full of boxes of stuff to my mother’s to sell, to the last three years here in town.  I’ve learned some lessons along the way; Don’t have garage sales during fair week,Don’t try your yard sale on  your porch when it is raining, don’t participate in city-wide sales if you really want to entice customers, and don’t deal with the guy who tries to trick you every time.

The garage sale is a week away and I’d like to take you on a journey through Mary’s garage sale.   The garage sale preparation actually started last year, after the conclusion of my last sale. Determined to never, ever, have a sale again because I was so exhausted, I didn’t start setting things aside until mid-November, when Pamida inexpicably offered triple-coupon sprees.  There is only so much toothpaste and shampoo one family can use so after I filled my own cupboards and they still had two weekends of triple coupon heaven…well, my resolve never to have another sale kind of melted away. I filled extra large baskets full of health and beauty items for three of my adult children for Christmas gifts, since I didn’t do that much shopping for them while my mother was dying. Still, I had stuff left over.  A large tote filled. And then another. A thrift store I frequent held a few 6 for $1 clothing sales I couldn’t resist.   Then I ran into a deak on Ziplock at Hy-Vee and used up my coupons, netting a dozen free boxes. Before I knew it, I was back in the couponing saddle and my attic steps started filling up. A $1 a bag book sale a month ago filled the back porch.  I could have priced as I put things away, which is a wonderful idea, but I didn’t get quite that organized.  Instead, I started pricing last week.  Besides all the new health and beauty, brand name clothing and books, I have been cleaning out cupboards and closets, ruthless in my sorting. I’ve filled plastic bags with greeting cards, notepads and rubber stamps, Oretega seasonings, Tone’s spices, and even extra pens and pencils from my cabinet.

After the accumulation of stuff to sell comes the pricing. I’m using yellow stickers for my mother and white for mine. I always initial my tags.  I use string tags pinned to the clothing, and label it with size and price. (ie. Gap, size 2T, 50-cents). It usually takes me a good two weeks to price everything. Adult clothing is priced between 50-cents and $4 an item, depending upon the brand name. I priced a Chico’s suede jacket at $4 because if it doesn’t sell at my sale I know I can take it to my sister’s consignment store.  I only pick up good names to sell at my sale: CJ Banks, Lane Bryant and Cato for plus-sizes, Gap, Gymboree, Lands End, and hanna Andersson for children’s.  For this sale I also have a  selection of Cherokee and Circo with brand new tags because of a special 6 for $1 sale at a thrift store.  I priced each of them for $1-$1.50. 

I always price everything individually.  Nothing frustrates me more than going to a garage sale where things aren’t priced.  New items I set at half the retail price or less.  Books I price individually, too, using stickers on the back of the book over the ISBN number.

Tomorrow I will show you my attic step stash and in the next few days, will walk you through our method of keeping track of sales, how we set up, make signs, etc.  I’ll take lots of pictures during the process.

Author:

Author, public speaker, and workshop presenter for community colleges, libraries, women's groups and for grief support groups, Hospice and retreats. Certified grief counselor and Senior Service librarian for the James Kennedy Public library. Popular public speaker and workshop presenter on the topics of writing, couponing, utilizing your creativity in everyday life, and finding hope in grief. "Coupon Crazy: The Science, the Savings, and the Stories Behind America's Extreme Obsession" was published by Familius Publishing in 2014. "Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage" and "Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace" were released by Familius in 2014. "Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink," co-written with Mary Jedlicka Humston of Iowa City, was published in September 2015. Grief journal to be released in 2018.

4 thoughts on “Garage Sale, Step One

  1. Hope your sale is a huge success! Looking forward to more blog entries on the topic, as well as seeing LOADS of pictures!!

  2. Well my friend, I do price my things as I get them. It would really drive me crazy if I thought I had to price all that stuff sitting in my extra room. That’s why I do it as I get things? Actually years ago I would do the same thing, stack things and price but actually I would never price then they would sit and sit and sit, the only way I can “handle” the stockpiles is if I price as I get them. I think it’s extra work to do it your way. I usually agree with your thinking but not this time my friend.. But that’s ok isn’t it? :o)

    1. I have always wanted to price as I go, but by the end of a day of shopping and the piles and bags sitting there, I just can’t stand it and box them up and get them out of the way. After this sale, I will probably make a concentrated effort to do so. It would definitely be easier!

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