One step forward…

Two steps back.

So it has been a while since we have posted.  Life decided to get on stage and take over for a bit.  Lee finished up an exhibit at work which pretty much sucked all of the energy out of him.  My office continues to evolve as I bring up my new team.  All good things, but it has made our progress a bit slower than we originally planned.  With the exhibit up, we have a bit more mental space to push ourselves forward on our journey to location independence (also known as running away…we have our own circus already, no need to join one).  It is vacation time.

Vacations for us have always been tricky.  Lee and I are both involved in project work, and finding time when we are both between projects, or more accurately, in the lower intensity phases of our projects gets tricky.  Lee’s projects have less flexibility than mine.  When he finishes a big exhibit, we try to go on vacation, as long as one of mine (think system implementations) isn’t at a crucial stage.  More detail than you wanted to know, I am sure.

We originally booked a week at the beach, but when we reviewed our finances, we decided that we had not made enough progress on savings to justify the trip.  Sacrifices must be made.  We also had put off the first of our yard sales, and if we stayed home, we could have the yard sale on the first Saturday of the month (when people often have a bit more money) and we could spread the prep work over several days so we would not be so tired afterwards.

Staying home turned out to be the BEST decision and here is why…

  1. Our 12 year old Honda decided that it needed some spa love, and went nuts in the middle of rush hour traffic on one of the busiest streets in town. Lights blinked, the engine stuttered and the car would not go forward.  Being residents of Music City, this town is full of frustrated musicians and they were all on the road right behind us when the car took a powder.  Using the instruments they had at hand, their car horn, they treated us to a symphony of displeasure for blocking a major street.  Having this happen seven hours away from home would have been a nightmare, so we are grateful that it happened at home.
  2. My work went a bit sideways and I ended up working a couple of days out of my planned week off. If I had been at the beach, that would have been much harder.
  3. Prepping for a yard sale is a lot more work than I remember it being. Since we were forced to stay home for couple of days (we only have one car, so when ours was towed to the dealership, we took an Uber home and stayed there), it took care of our procrastination problem.  We were well prepared for the yard sale.

The result?  Our first yard sale was a success!  We sold a lot of stuff.  We did not sell everything, and the big, old computer desk that we REALLY wanted to go away is still with us, but overall it went better than we anticipated.

What we did right

  • Balloon signage – We picked up balloons at the dollar store up the street, and for a couple of dollars, we feel they did the job of attracting folks into our sale. People speed around the corner where we live, and the shiny helped.  After the yard sale was over, we went to pick up our Honda from the shop, and when we came back, the yard sale sign was still there, but the balloons had been liberated.  As we had no further use for them, we were happy that someone wanted them.
  • Reusable Signs – Do not put the date on your signs. Our yard sales will all be on Saturdays, so we put that on the signs, but not putting a date on the signs means that we can use them again.
  • Plenty of Change – We started with 25 ones, 10 fives and 4 tens, with an additional group of ones, fives and tens in reserve. It was a good thing, since one of the first sales we made, required giving change for a fifty….grrrrrrrrr.
  • It was HOT! We tag teamed and we hydrated.  While we had seating in the shade of our porch, we needed those planned breaks.  We also had frozen grapes and frozen fruit slushies for snacks.  These were especially helpful when I made the brilliant decision to multi-task and do yard work during the slow periods.
  • Stuffed animal baskets. We both love stuffed animals.  We are not collectors by nature, but the cute little buggers have crept into the house over the years.  When we started gathering up stuff to sell, we realized that we had a loads of stuffed animals (mostly Lee’s…he’s a big softy).  We discussed donating them, as they were in great shape but decided to put them out in the sale first.  We did not sell a single one.  Instead, every time a family with small kids came by, the kids were drawn to the basket o joy (I mean really, who wouldn’t be?) and played while their parents shopped.  Because they were not bored, they were not wandering around bumping into fragile items.  They were so drawn to them, that we made a spot decision to just give them away.  We gave each child their pick of the toys (whether their parents bought anything or not) and the joy we saw on those little faces was a total high. Best. Decision. Ever.  I really wish we had gotten a picture of the one little boy dragging away a moose that was as big as he was.  It was priceless.

Things we would do differently next time

  • Pricing – We had folks looking over the merchandise before we even had it all out. They were digging through the bags we had not unpacked yet.  We should have pre-priced the items, because for some folks English is a second language, and they couldn’t ask.  Numbers tend to be universal.
  • Pricing some more – Next time, Lee will price my items and I will price his. Even though this is the first of several planned yard sales, there were items in it that we both were attached to and so we overpriced some of those items…including said behemoth desk.  The goal is for it to leave without us having to take it away ourselves.
  • Advertising – We purchased an ad in the local newspaper and posted an ad in Craigslist for free. While for others, it may make sense to advertise; our neighborhood is blue collar and is not one to attract outsiders.  Our visitors were overwhelmingly drive-by.  We would not pay for another ad.  We will still do Craigslist, because it is free.

Other things we learned

  • Learn your market – As I mentioned previously, our neighborhood is blue collar. Lots of immigrants looking to build the American dream, and these folks do not have a lot of extra money.  They focused on the basics.  Tools, clothes, exercise equipment, kitchen tools, sewing equipment, etc.  What did not sell as well were decorative items.  I was REALLY surprised at the clothing and shoe sales.  I was not originally planning to sell clothes, but I had a pile for Goodwill, so we put them out.  They sold like crazy.  We charged a couple of bucks each, and away they went.  Our next yard sale will focus more heavily on those items and we will discount decorative items more heavily.  If we were in a higher rent area, decorative might have sold better.
  • Yard work and yard sale do not mix well. During a lull I got bored, and started pruning bushes and pulling weeds and that was a bit of a mistake because it was so hot and sunny, and in no time at all, I was bright red, soaked in sweat and scary gross.  Also, even though I wore gloves, my hands were dirty.  I had to take a pause and Lee had to take over so that I could clean up enough that people didn’t want to avoid me.  On the plus side, my yard looks way better.
  • Sunscreen – Really, you would think that we had learned this by now…Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!

Final Thoughts

We made good money on our yard sale, though that profit was completely wiped out (and then some) by the bill for our Honda.  While it was a lot of hot, hard work and we ended up net down financially, we have cleared a lot of stuff out and learned a lot.  Now we are on to gathering stuff for the next one.

Cheers!

Author: carolyn@runawayrowes.com

Oops. You caught me pretending to adult. When pretending to adult, I hold down a job. I go to school. I parent cats. Whether pretending to adult or not, I love Lee with every fiber in my being. He gets me. He is pretending to adult too.

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