Introvert's Guide to Holding a Yard Sale

>> Thursday, May 25, 2017

In the last week or so we've had a yard sale, taken two trips to the children's second hand shop, and I've also made my first transaction via a local mom's Facebook sale group. I feel like a superhero of sorts when it comes to getting rid of all the dreaded stuff. Yet, when I think back . . . I thought I got rid of everything last year. You know, the great purge. Why am I doing it again? Obviously I haven't been following my own advice to stop bringing things home. That's not the topic of today's post, though.

Let me tell you about introverts having yard sales. It's a comical situation. I got so wrapped up in the prospect of making cash money from all my things that I hadn't considered the strain it would have on me. And, yes, strain is the right word. Of course, I am being slightly dramatic. But sitting around while random strangers paw through your children's old toys and make small talk is a nightmare scenario in my eyes.

So, here's the setting: Saturday morning, dawn.

I got up early. I had already staged everything in the garage the day before so it would be at the ready. I pulled each makeshift table (these camping cots we've had for eons sure come in handy for lots of things!) out to the driveway and proceeded with marking prices. Most were $1, $5, $10, and even amounts. Pretty easy -- I was ready to go in 10 minutes. But also pretty hard to put a price on things with so much sentimental value and even guilt attached. I digress.

And just like that, it happened. People started slowing their vehicles. Stopping at the foot of the driveway to gawk. To ask questions by shouting out their car windows. Walkers and joggers took notice, too. You know, because that's what people do when they're trolling around for deals. It's part of the game, Ashley.

When people started approaching . . . the conversation I had in my head was sort of like this:

Oh, god. 
Here comes this or that person. 
Do I look right at him/her? 
Should I say hi? 
Maybe I should just let him/her look around first. 
OK. That's the plan.

It would never fail. I'd say an awkward "hello" and nervously giggle.

Inevitably, someone would want to chat or ask a question. It's a social interaction, after all. I don't know what I was expecting. (Maybe next time I'll have a sign that reads: "Please just buy my things in silence.") We had all sorts of people come by. Some of them ended up being people we'd met briefly in the past. Some of them, we learned, do this trash-into-treasures hunt every weekend. And some seem to have crawled out of the woodwork. One woman exclusively clapped to get her 2-year-old son's attention. I think I made a nasty face at this whole thing, and she left in a huff.

I think one of the most uncomfortable parts of the sale, at least to me, is when people wouldn't buy anything. Instead, I feel like they may have come just to look for looking sake. We had primarily baby and little girl things. It was plain as day because the driveway was basically glowing primary colors.

We would have people slowly examine each and every item only to come up to us and say "Well, I don't have a family or any friends with kids. In fact, I have never even met a human child -- so none of this stuff interests me". Thank you. You could have decided that from the road versus slowly stalking that table of brightly colored toys for the last 10 minutes. Have a nice day. Merry Christmas.

I imagine Stephen's account of the sale is different from mine. In short: People were everywhere. People lingered. Drivers honked and waved. Some tried to haggle. Some lonely stragglers had no interest in the sale and simply wanted to talk to someone. In the end, though, I survived to tell the story. And I'll probably do it again sometime. That is, after I get back the mental energy. People zap me out cold.

So what are my tips for introverts who want to hold yard sales?

1. Grab your extroverted partner, if possible. Stephen -- thank god -- was able to take a big shift while I took Ada to gymnastics. He was loving it. He's entertained by people. He genuinely likes chatting with strangers. So, I let him do it while I pretended to clean the garage. Only problem is that he had an appointment during the bulk of the latter half of the sale. So, I was solo for a good chunk.

2. Hold your sale with a friend or neighbor. We were lucky because it was a neighborhood sale, so our friends next door were also outside. I considered them my crutch if I started getting uncomfortable. Actually, the husband is quite like me and retreated to his basement during most of the festivities. (Lucky.) Anyway, at least I had a familiar face to hang with.

3. Set definitive start and end times. Some people hold sales all day weekend long. They sit and sit and sit. I knew that I wanted to be done by 2PM because -- well -- that's what I decided on the spot. So, when I got uncomfortable, I knew that we were getting closer to my somewhat early end time.

4. Consider alternative modes for selling your stuff if you're really uncomfortable with the idea of having people scattered about your lawn. As I mentioned in my intro, I also went to the local children's second hand store. So, we made $165 at the yard sale (by selling only like 5 things!) . . . but we made another $100 at the store. Honestly, if I had started by taking everything to the store, I may have made slightly less . . . but if you consider the time and energy that went into holding a yard sale . . . you have to figure the cost of time.

Have you had a yard sale? Do you love it or hate it? You have to admit that -- no matter what end of the spectrum you're on -- it's an experience.

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