Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dumb encounters at yard sales...

Last Saturday I went to a community yard sale not far from where I live. Only about 8-10 homes were participating. Most had things I was not interested in like baby items (been there) and books (I have plenty at home that I haven't gotten to yet). If I bring something home, I try to get rid of something else so it has to be worth it (or take up very little space).

One house was busy with several adults trying to pull things out of boxes, the garage, and the house onto the long driveway. I was thinking that this was a bust, too, when I noticed a man unpacking some china. At the bottom of his pile was an antique oval ironstone transferware vegetable dish. The transferware was teal and very pretty. I asked, "how much," and he asked his wife, "what do you think, $20?" She said "yeah." I said "oh, thanks anyway." It's not that it wasn't worth it. It's just that I didn't want to pay $20; I would have paid $10. Only a few weeks before I found a less wonderful, but nice, ironstone piece at another sale for 50 cents (way cheap--I took that one home). Besides, they said it was a piece from the wife's family. So my feeling was that they really didn't want to sell it; I didn't counter offer. When I'm out, I don't want to irritate anyone with a low-ball offer.

I did spot 2 small galvanized steel topiary pots for 50 cents (the pair). Sold! I'll craft them into something.

When I've been on the other side at my own yard sales, which usually are held not in my yard but at other sites for charity (your registration fee goes to the PTA, American Cancer Society, whatever, and you keep the proceeds of your own sales), I've been amazed at some of the things people say. A couple of years ago at the sale at the kids' elementary school, I had an old print among my things. Most of the stuff I sell hovers around $1. A shirt-$1. A hardback book-$1. Etc. So I didn't see the harm in bring a few things that went a bit beyond $1. Most people are very friendly, but there are exceptions.

One woman approached me holding the old print and asked nicely, "how much for this?" I said, "Oh, I'd like to get $15 for that." She blurted out at me, "I just BET you would!" Then she turned and stormed off. Another woman looking at my magazines said to me, "well, that was weird!" My daughter, who was probably 9 at the time asked me what was wrong with her. Couldn't explain that.

Last year at the same school sale, a woman wanted to pay $1 for my son's Yugioh (sp?) thousand plus card collection. He was only asking $4. He worked with her to get a small number of cards for $1. She was so cheap about it, but he didn't let her have the whole thing for her price! Then some younger boys came along and bought the rest for $4. He came out ahead on the deal and the other boys were thrilled.

Usually when people low-ball the prices, I balk. If it's marked $2 and someone offers 25 cents, I say no. But other times I'm a wimp. At the Pink Cabbage sale last month, I was asked if I would take $4 for an item marked $5. Not really a low-ball offer, but $5 was the price I had paid--what a fool I was-should have marked it $6 for some wiggle room. I caved only because I wanted to move things out of my house. Overall, the sale went well and I sold a lot.

I'm signed up to do another yard sale for my son's soon-to-be high school at the end of the month. We seem to have an endless supply of saleable junk!


Lydia said...

Hahaha. at our yard sale w/your ever helpful son in attendance, a guy came early and said"I want everything!" I looked at him with a ? in my expression.

He then proceeded to tell me all the things(about 10 items) that he wanted- for only $50-. 2 items put together at prices I pd. were more than $50- So he went for one of the items at $17-(we pd. 20-) &3 charm bracelets.I had said 25% off, and he kept dickering. I caved, which I never do on artwork. I'm still saying, I shouldn't have caved.


Lydia said...

ps- I almost always counter offer. But, I do it nicely. You just never know!

Jenny said...

At Pink Cabbage my caving included one piece of artwork. A desperate woman asked me for a discount so I gave it. Felt bad about it afterward, but I chalked it up to being exhausted at the time (it was about 8 hours into the sale).... We're only human!