Do garage sales help justify the clutter?

gayle0000March 10, 2009

Help me get into the mind of the garage sale mentality! I don't go to garage sales. I had 1 garage sale in my life, and that was when I was divorcing....moving out and dumping all the extras. I priced to sell...and I sold just about everything.

I know several people who are constantly saving their clutter for their next garage sale. Some of these people never have that garage sale. I often think this is just an excuse to not have to clean up, sort through, or clear out.

One friend does have garage sales, but prices her stuff so high, she's disappointed in the end. She complains she never gets rid of enough stuff, and never makes "good money" from her efforts. Know what...she saves what doesn't sell for the next garage sale. Her basement is filled with garage sale stuff.

Personally, I think saving for the garage sale is an excuse when you never have the sale. I've observed from the one who does have the sales that resale value is more of a sport to her than anything, but I wonder sometimes what her breaking point will be. If she never complained about all her stuff, I wouldn't take issue with her clutter.

I hope that didn't sound mean. I just can't grasp around the concept of saving clutter/stuff for the garage sale, and either never doing it...or never being satisfied that you accomplished when you did have a sale.

Any thoughts?

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I have had a few garage sales. I had one when moving and did really good because didn't want to move it and priced right. I had a second one after we moved into new house and had replaced some furniture, plus still had some stuff to get rid of that we didn't the first time.

Had a garage sale a few years ago when I went through all the rooms and purged things that were no longer needed or wanted. As I had stuff from every room and I priced them real low I didn't make that much money and my thoughts were that it wasn't worth the bother. I ended up going back to my old ways of putting clothes in a bag or box and when heading by GL dropping off a bad or two.

I see some people where I live that had garage sales almost every week. Most of the stuff should have been thrown in the trash, but they are out there every week with the disgusting stroller with all the stains and rips for $70.

Now that I have found freecycle if I am going through rooms I will place it on there and let people come and get it. I have even had a free garage sale when I had a lot of toys, clothes, etc.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 12:17PM
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i either give everything away or sell it immediately on is free, they come to you, no advertising in papers and sitting in a musty garage waiting for someone to come and rummage through your stuff.

i have had 3 garage no one came to, one one person and my MIL and another a few people..none were successes...took stuff to other peoples garage sales and set there with them all day,

either give it away or put it on craigslist..and sell it with THEM doing all the work

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 12:39PM
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I love going to garage sales, but hate having them. I've only had a couple in my life, and only when I had furniture to sell so that sitting there all day was at least worth my time. I don't get people who don't price their stuff low enough for it to sell. Do they really enjoy sitting there for hours and only making a few dollars??

My old stuff either gets put in the donation box or thrown away. If it's good enough to sell, I usually list it on ebay. I haven't really tried Craigs List yet but I will.

As a veteran garage sailer, I'm always ready to give advice about how to have them when asked. One of the most important things to remember is that what you paid for an item doesn't enter into the equation of what you'll sell it for. I've had lots of sellers say to me, "but I paid $X for this!" I don't care WHAT you paid for it, what matters is what I'm willing to pay for it now. Take it or leave it.

Putting it back in your garage just doesn't make sense. Sell it for what someone is willing to pay and get rid of it. I think people who won't sell at a reasonable price, or those who never do actually hold the sale, are just too attached to their stuff, even though they no longer want or need it.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 4:55PM
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Garage sales are a lot of work for pretty small return. I've had two, but would never do another. I made about $200 on the first one, less on the second. People even STOLE things while I wasn't looking. I had to sit outside all day. I priced stuff to sell-like a TV and a working portable wash machine for $15 each. After each one, I left the remaining unsold stuff out for the Salvation army, anything they didn't take went in the next trash collection.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 5:38PM
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I think jannie said it well - a lot of work with a small return. I've had 3 garage sales, and unless I'm moving, wouldn't bother again. Our house is just too small to hold stuff for a year or more.

I think too many people do consider what they paid for it when pricing items. Or else they've watched one too many episodes of Antiques Roadshow. Couple of years ago I was looking for end tables. Saw a couple in horrible condition but I thought they could be cleaned up enough for temporary use until I found some I really liked. I offered $10 for the pair (although I might have gone to $15). The answer? "Oh no, these are from the 60's. They're retro. We couldn't take less than $50 apiece." I'll bet those "retro" tables are still sitting in their garage.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 10:12PM
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Seasyde, you are so right. One too many episodes of Antiques Roadshow. Yeah, maybe they paid $100 for them in 1965, but today they are at a garage sale. Your offer seems reasonable. Retro my foot!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 6:57AM
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Yeah, the "Antiques Roadshow" mentality bugs me. I'm of the opinion that if you have...or think you have something of true value, you would take it to a proper auction house, consignment...or some other avenues geared toward valuable collectibles & merchandise to sell at appropriate value.

There's no way I put items of true antique value on a garage sale. You're not drawing the proper buying crowd.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 7:21AM
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Retro - yeah Right. As gayle says, you don't put true antiques in a garage sale. You can usually tell when the people having the garage sale have never been to a garage sale. They don't get the distinction between a garage sale and an antique sale. They think their stuff is worth a lot, and hey, it might very well be! But that's not what I'm shopping for. At a garage sale, I'm shopping for a bargain, cheap stuff, a hidden treasure at a great price, etc.

If I'm looking for a pair of "retro" tables costing $100, they won't be from a garage sale. That's the sort of thing I want to buy from a reputable dealer who has already cleaned it up. But the trouble is, that dealer, who may very well get HIS stock from garage sales, won't pay $100 either.

Mark it to a low price, get rid of it and move on. THAT'S the point of the garage sale.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 12:14PM
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Up until recently, I did like to save stuff up for our church rummage sale--sort of. I actually prefer to get it out of sight, out of mind, but since the church often madeoh, $800-1500 (we're a small church) for our charity projects, it was good to participate. It did take several hours of time from a number of volunteers, most of whom also felt that this was a good way to give time to church and charity if you didn't have the cash itself and also if you just like to see stuff recycled, so it works out well.

Now I have a DD back in the previously "spare" room, which was where I was comfortable stashing stuff, I have gone back to my Goodwill plan.

I've never tried craigs.list but after hearing so much about it on all the forums, may think of that when I've got a more valuable (meaning more $$ down the drain) "poor judgement" item or for larger item like furniture.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 9:00PM
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For me personally, they are a once or twice in a lifetime thing. We've had two, and both times it was because we were moving to a new home, and had total lifestyle changes as well...downsizing in a major way because kids married and moving on, retirement etc. We priced it to sell, sold heaps and donated the rest.
But now, because I am (supposedly) in "maintenance" mode with de-cluttering, I only need to get rid of a bag every few months, if that. I just donate that.
Anything really valuable that I no longer want, I'd sell separately to a proper dealer.
I think success with garage sales depends where you live, a lot of the time. Our son lives in a city suburb and there are so many garage sales on a weekend, that it almost becomes a neighbourhood social swap and meet. People just put out a few goodies, sit outside with their morning coffee, and then stroll around the block to see what the neighbours might be selling this week. It's all rather relaxed and fun, and works, because it's the sort of neighbourhood that people just stroll around anyway on the weekend.
But I've had friends who've slaved for days setting up a garage sale, only to make enough money to just cover the advertising cost, and they still had to haul away a heap of stuff.
I agree with lowspark...look on it as a way to get rid of stuff, and for me, only if you have a lot at the one time.
Cheap household goods and toys and baby stuff is really what most people are looking for.
I couldn't stand having bits and pieces build up over a year or more waiting to have The Garage Sale. But if we ever have to move again, and needed to downsize in a major way, I'd certainly do it again.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 2:12AM
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you are gals after my own heart..i hate garage sales..hate having them and even hate going to them..once and awhile i'll go, but seldom buy..

sell stuff quick and easy on craigs list..including MIL's house

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 8:01PM
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I suspect that most of us on this forum are at a socio-economic level where we have the option of giving things away on freecycle or taking a tax deduction for a charitible donation. However, just like the people who sell things on craigslist - or even EBay - for $5, there are people for whom making $50 at a Saturday garage sale is good money and worth the time.

However, my sister is one of those people who Gayle describes - a basement filled with "treasures" and no time to sell them. I once took one of the items and showed her the value of it on EBay, which was that it was being offered for a couple of dollars and wasn't selling at any price. It was a vintage 1960-ish cardboard advertising display for cigarettes that she had pulled from our uncle's market. She was unconvinced and believed that if she sat at a public flea market one Saturday, someone might come along and buy it for $25.

As others have said, it comes down to believing an item has value despite proof to the contrary. My sister is a contrarian in other ways as well.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 7:38AM
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When I want to get rid of the few things I need to clear out every once in a while, I have to ask for stuff from family and friends to donate stuff because I don't have enough to cover a regular piece of plywood laid on 2 saw horses to have a garage sale!! I don't collect things and the only things I have to clear out are things that are old or I can't use and that's very little.

I have a neighbor who is a shop a holic. She then turns around and has a garage sale, selling things pennies on the dollar and loses a fortune. She goes through this cycle every year. It's amazing to me that people waste so much money on buying stuff they don't real need or want then turning around and selling it for pennies.

I think shopping and collecting stuff is a national epedemic brought on by the ease to charge things and emotional voids trying to be filled.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 12:38AM
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Do garage sales help justify the clutter?


I have never really had a problem with buying useless things. But when I was given something useless, but "still good," I could not bring myself to just trash it. For years, I had been saving big boxes of nice-but-useless-to-me stuff for a garage sale that would never happen. I was too busy to cart it all upstairs and lay it out on tables. I didn't have any tables, anyway. So it never happened.

Then I discovered FlyLady and she convinced me that I would be much happier with the stuff out of my life (given away for free on Freecycle) than trying to convert it into cash.

Every once in a great while, I decide to snoop around at a garage sale. Occasionally, have found something I truly needed.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 2:17PM
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Where does this neighbor live? I want to shop at HER garage sale! LOL.
Yeah, I'm a garagesaleaholic - I don't buy much but love to look. It's really amazing some of the stuff you do find, as brutuses says, for pennies on the dollar. It's that one incredible treasure at a bargain price that I'm after, and I do find it once in a while!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 12:25PM
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Maryliz, if it's any consolation, we would have come out ahead financially by donating the stuff instead of doing the garage sale- and that's before we spent hours on it!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 3:15PM
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lowspark, just outside of N.O.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 1:39AM
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Well, I'm in Houston. It's a bit far to drive for a garage sale.... :)

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 9:30AM
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Graywings sister must have taken lessons from my husband...he picks up useless stuff cause he is sure it is worth a bunch..not.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 12:35PM
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We moved last month. After living in the same house & raising kids there, we had a TON of stuff to get rid of. I have done a couple garage sales in the past, and have said NEVER AGAIN! So I have been just donating it to several places (still have a pile in the garage to go, but it will be gone soon). I have gotten to the point where I just say, this has served it's purpose and I have gotten my $$ worth and send it on its way and hope someone else can get some use out of it. I don't even ask for the tax deductible slips when I drop stuff off. I just want it GONE!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 9:09PM
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I've done the garage sale thing and hauled to others' garage sales. Too much work to do one by myself now. Hauling is a lot of work but what I did was brought it to some little old ladies who handled the sale. I set up my own stuff, priced it and they tended it. I gave them half for doing it and they were thrilled. Afterward, I'd usually give them the rest of the stuff to sell later at their next sale. They did it to make a few bucks and for something to do. But they're not doing it anymore. I'd like to do some stuff on Craigslist or ebay. Might take some things to an ebay place and pay them the percentage. But then again, is it worth it? A lot of the stuff can be donated to ARC and they'll make good use of it. I really am not so greedy that I need to get cash out of everything. I need to get rid of it, and preferably not PAYING to get rid of it!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 10:52PM
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Nope. I always think there's something better I can do with my time. Only once did I have a good sale because everything was priced $5 or under. Didn't make a ton of money but didn't have to haul stuff back into the house either. The last "sale" I had was a You Haul It! I posted a few signs and put stuff by the curb. It was all gone by the next day.

We're doing a garage sale this weekend as a fundraiser. All items are donated and we're not pricing anything -- it's strictly Make-an-Offer. The sale is at an local auction barn so anything left over will be sold at the auction on Wednesday and clothes will be delivered to the Salvation Army.

There's a local auction here every week so I gather up a few boxes of stuff and drop it off. If It sells they send me a check. If it doesn't sell they get rid of it.

Don't save clutter for a sale, it's worth more and easier if you just donate it.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 1:00PM
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I think to have a good garage sale, you need to be organized and be willing to lower your prices. My youngest daughter and oldest daughter have a garage sale twice a year and they are big events. We put up big canopies and we have nice folding tables and things are clean and orderly. It is more of a family get together as I fix the meals and we have a really good time. The neighbors stop in and this is in the country. Even the men get involved with it. They can last from 2 to 3 days. The more help you can have the better. If we have things we want to get rid of, we just put it out by the road with a free sign on it and in a few hours it is gone. Sometimes these are held when there are festivals in the area, so we do a good business. She sells everything plants and vegetables, as well as the usual things.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 11:32PM
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I like garage sales--I have found lots of bargains for under $5 thru out the years. One of my favorite bargains ($1)is a dark stained solid wood paper towel holder I put up over my utility room sink.

Question? Does anyone participate in "dumpster diving" and "curbside shopping"? Can't remember where the site was but folks would post pictures of their best "finds" each week. Was a very interesting web site.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 10:54PM
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Hailefin, it's probably Trash to Treasure on the Garden Web.

Ya Ya - who's a curbside shopper! LOL

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 7:49PM
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My sons are in a boy scout troop that has The Mother Of All Garage Sales every year in August. It is H-U-G-E. They start collecting in May and use 5-6 giant storage units. It takes a week to set it all up in the parking lot of the church that sponsors the troop. It takes 50-60 people all working for 4 months so you can only imagine how huge. Last year they made $11,000 and they price EVERYTHING to go. The prices are really, really cheap. The troop has been doing this for more than 25 years so it's a neighborhood institution.

Anyway, all of that said is it justify my keeping junk for the garage sale. I have a corner of the laundry room devoted to it. I bring boxes home from work and box up stuff all year. And then the se-up week I become ruthless and start culling from all over the house. Last year I got rid of SO MUCH junk - it was wonderful!

And the best part is, what doesn't sell goes first to charities. After they take their pick, the the troop goes through and pulls out all the stuff the humane society can use and all the scrap metal, then the rest goes into a dumpster. So NONE of it comes back home with me!

After all the work I'm not even tempted to bring home anyone else's donations either. Last year I brought home a paring knife, a hat, and a blanket - that's it. Working the sale also makes me not want to go to garage sales, so I don't drag home unneeded stuff.

Anyway, if your friends are saving and really would have a sale then it can be a good thing. It's a great thing for me!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 3:56PM
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On of my best finds at a garage sale was a like new floor model air conditioner for $35.00. We had just bought one for my Mother's house and paid $500 for it. I put mine in my downstairs kitchen as we do not have central air and the windows in my kitchen crank out. Son in law fixed it out the window with plexi glass and tape. Sure was nice down there last summer.

When my daughter was doing eBay, she bought a little rooster, pottery, I don't remember the name of the company that made it. I had pointed it out to her. Anyway she bought it for $.50 and later sold it for $125. That doesn't happen too often, but it can happen.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 5:26AM
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Our school has a once a year sale where anyone can donate stuff to the school, all funds to the programs, like music, theater etc and they get rid of what does not sale. I had some stuff and forgot to take it over, so it went to either the Good Will or Dakota Boys Ranch Thrift Shop.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 10:53PM
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