On Friday, on the spur of the moment, my wife decided to gather a minivan full of things we don’t need, and, the next morning take them to a local church that was renting tables at their church yard sale. We paid $40 for the use of 2 tables, which we filled with our used children’s books, kitchen gadgets, dishes, and plates, Christmas decorations, and assorted other items. Our rule was that we were only taking things that we no longer needed or wanted. These things would be sold at the yard sale and if unsold would end up donated to Goodwill or put in the trash.
We priced things to sell. An entire table was filled with items that we initially priced at $2 and after we passed the sale’s halfway hour, we reduced them to $1 each. Later we sold the remaining items 2 for $1 and in the final 15 minutes we sold them 4 for $1. Parting ways with these things was the goal. We filled the other table with things that were priced between $3 and $10. Some people were happy to pay the price we asked, but many times we accepted offers that were a little lower. When someone made an offer on an item that had gone unsold after it had been seen by dozens of people, we were ready to accept it. We also had a box of small odds and ends (kids arts and crafts supplies, paper goods, small items) that we gave away for free. Kids liked looking through the box, which kept their parents looking at what we were selling. There was also a girl scout leader and a couple of grandmothers who appreciated the free items. At the end of the day we gave several books away to kids who seemed happy to get them.
The point of packing everything in the car and taking it to the sale was to get rid of things. We tried not to put much stock in our own opinion of how much a thing was worth. Something is worth what someone is willing and able to pay for it.
When the sale was done we had more than $100 (after deducting the $40 we paid to rent the space). You might say that’s less than $10 per hour considering the time it took. But money isn’t the only thing we got. We had some very pleasant conversations with neighbors and old friends. My wife networked with some people in the same line of work. We bought a couple items at very good prices.
One consideration was whether we were better off renting a table at the local church, which cost $40 — or should we have held the sale in our own yard, for free? My opinion is that the $40 for the space in the church parking lot was worth it. The church is on a busy corner with lots of traffic. The parking lot full of people and tables overflowing with things for sale certainly attracted attention. We had potential buyers looking at our tables during most of the sale. Our house is on a side street with little traffic. It’s easy to imagine that we would ended up spending lots of time alone waiting for buyers if we’d held a solo sale in our own yard. The people organizing the church yard sale advertised with street signs and online announcements, which we would have had to do ourselves if we held our own sale. Overall, I’m happy to have spent the $40 in order to make > $100. It feels good to convert a lot of stuff we don’t need into money.