“You don’t see anything for a quarter anymore.”
True, I said, to a friendly customer at my latest garage-a-palooza, a.k.a. Colossal Cleanup, a.k.a. Premiere Purgefest 2014.
Amen, brother, and how about that inflation anyway?
But your point raises the question: If very few items at modern-day garage or yard sales sell for less than a dollar anymore, why do those colorful little sticker variety packs still come with so many cent labels?
Come on, people, get with the times, which are a’changing.
Another yard sale in the books — I have them every couple of years, and each time I wonder how I got to this point and vow never to get to it again — and I’ve once again learned a few interesting tidbits about human nature as well as merchandising, which I’ll gladly share. In case, you know, you want to do something crazy like spend weeks combing through your rooms collecting all kinds of nuisance stuff that at some point seemed swell but now makes you wonder where your head was at the purchase point.
Without further ado, a Top 5 of yard-sale talking points. Here goes:
1. People will rarely buy what you think they will and often buy what you think they won’t. Hot for 2014? Blue jeans, T-shirts, sweatshirts, bedsheets and even shoes. What do these have in common? Not only were they used but more personally than, say, your blender or five-in-one grinder/slicer/chopper/processor/karaoke machine. Who knew? It might behoove you to groom for your next sale to further increase the appeal of these already popular items. I have a hunch people size up sellers and decide whether they’re willing to don their old duds, see.
2. Not so hot for 2014? Kitchen kitsch, small appliances, cutlery, etc. Can’t really explain that except to say if I’m out of room other people probably are too. And words to the wise: Even church flea markets reject coffee mugs these days. You should probably stop giving them as gifts.
3. People don’t decorate much anymore. Well, except for holidays, and more of them than ever. My take? Holiday embellishment, in which Halloween is almost as big as Christmas and Valentine’s Day makes a run at Halloween, may be gaining ground because you put the stuff away in short order. And therefore have to less to dust on a daily basis. This year, decorative items of a general nature sat around on the folding tables until reduced to, well, 25 cents, while holiday items moved early and often at full price.
4. Books aren’t as popular as they once were, but the kids are all right because the kids are still reading. Blame e-readers maybe, but this year I had some pristine books, which I treated with care (no spaghetti sauce on these pages, baby) and then offered to others for maybe 2 percent of what I paid for them. In many cases, I still have those books. But the few kid-friendly tomes I had? Gone in a flash. That has to mean something.
5. Same goes for toys and trinkets suitable for the younger set. There’s a healthy market out there, people, for well-kept playthings, though not so much games. My first-edition Trivial Pursuit is still so unloved. Maybe a vintage game party is in order.
Now, a bonus thought: Yard sales may not be the boon to the bank account you dream of — higher price tags may mean people just buy less — but you do feel lighter and airier after they’re over, and they’re a great way to meet the neighbors. This year I made the acquaintance of someone who has lived across the street for two years. (Shame on me.) And there’s already talk of a porch party.
Which, by the way, will be the next big thing for 2015. Decks schmecks. You heard it here first.