Yard sales -- gismos, junk jewelry and doodads ...

... a brief business venture hits economic skids

from the SilverStringers

Our neighbor held a yard sale on a recent Saturday. It lasted maybe three hours, and when it was over, most of the same stuff was still there.

Since we're a neighbor, we were invited to participate in this Saturday morning American tradition. So Lorry spent two days sorting through stuff and boxes that date back more than half a century, to a time when our three kids weren't even a gleam in the old man's eye. Yes, even a few sparkly wedding gifts.  

And we netted $27. I estimate the cost of that stuff we sold was probably about $150. We celebrated by going down to Farnham's Clam House in Essex where we dined in the rough for only $32. Plus 80 miles roundtrip for gas at $3 a gallon. Oooph da, as my Norwegian ancestors would have said.

But the question here is, What sold and what didn't? Firstly, not much, and secondly, most everything. What we found out was: Most (about 50 percent) yard sale followers arrive in Toyotas. Most of these folks spend an average of 4.5 minutes on site. Most know what they are looking for, and can browse the selection rather rapidly. Idle talk isn't part of the scene, unless you recognize an old friend who swore that this was the first EVER yard sale she'd ever been to.

What sold? Certainly not those 55-year old wedding gifts in faux-silver (top row, left). Not the funky green shells nor the nice smokey dessert dishes. In the second row, those fancy drapery drawers didn't draw anyone. Nor did the solid brass fireplace set -- I guess not many newly-weds these days have a fireplace. Actually, neither did the lady who was selling them. But she did sell that convertible chair, partially visible in the middle picture.

The hit of the day was this awful candle thing, genuine faded orange plastic, that represented either something from a southeastern Asia temple or an item from Harry Potter's latest ghost novel. In the end, nobody bought it. One guy, from Thailand, was interested but couldn't afford the two bucks.

The crockpot didn't sell, but funky pieces of jewelry virtually walked off. The goods at the right sat there for three hours, untouched, unappreciated -- and were there at closing.

The slow cooker was a slow mover -- it didn't move at all. Nor did the pretty wreath of roses, or that nice utilitarian basket.

The staple gun and paper punch went, but for a negotiated price. Hit of the day were the three frisbies that went for free, and these two ancient nutcrackers that sold for 25 cents. And I hate to say it, but nobody was interested in the small pile of children's books.

It was a good day -- not for getting rid of stuff, but in socializing with neighbors and meeting new friends. Economically our yard sale was a flop, but still we enjoyed the happening.

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