The World’s Best Ever Garage Sale!

Except. Not.

I love to streamline things. I’m that person who cleans her closet every 3-6 months and takes to Goodwill or Salvation Army what I haven’t worn in two years. (Although I usually pick up clothes at the local Salvation Army after I drop off. Whoops.) I’m sentimental about My Favorite Things, but not much else.

There is furniture in our home that we bought for our previous apartment. This furniture was the first (and last) time we’ve ever splurged on fine, quality home goods. We did this because I was becoming increasing sure we would have no children. (This was after IVF #2.) I was particularly in love with this beautiful, creamy velvet chaise lounge we bought for our bedroom. It was gorgeous: so neutral, so polished, so, well, luxe. It’s something that seemed to belong in a Four Seasons hotel room.

Then we bought our place, and it has a window seat in our bedroom, rendering the chaise lounge concept obsolete. I’ve held onto it, keeping it temporarily in my daughter’s room. But she’s becoming an artiste who needs her table space for projects and games, and that room is becoming rather cramped.

So we decided it might be a good idea to have a garage sale and try to purge our home of furniture that literally does not fit. Including our lovely entertainment center which is too big for any of our walls. This thing was not from IKEA. (Unlike almost all the other furniture we’ve had in our life.)

It turns out “Silk Stalking” DVDs are worth more than anything we were selling.

As befits my personality, I set up little tableaus here and there to make our furniture appealing. I set up a pretty beribboned clothesline and hung up some of the twins’ cutest clothes from Janie and Jack. I set up a little cozy scene involving our chaise and a wool Mongolian rug that we can’t use because of its size. Darcy wouldn’t let me unwrap the couch from its shrink plastic wrap. (“That makes it look new!”)

We advertised this garage sale multiple times online. I made signs I decorated the neighborhood with.

And then we waited. And people came. But not to buy what we wanted them to buy.

They wanted to buy a used TV that we were not planning to sell. They wanted to buy our printer. They wanted to buy our scanner.

We made $9!!!!!!

No one even wanted our nice stuff.

Honestly? It hurt my feelings.

Now our garage is fuller than it was yesterday.

So, does anyone (preferably in the Bay Area, but the US is OK) want curtains for a nursery? They were custom-made with the black out material in the back of the fabric to keep out light during naptime. They are 76″ long. I’m saving some clothes for Bodega and Emily.

Have you had luck with garage sales? Any secrets you care to share?

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11 Comments

Filed under My Favorite Things

11 responses to “The World’s Best Ever Garage Sale!

  1. Wow… how disheartening. I don’t have any great suggestions, just commiseration. I’ve had hit and miss success with advertising things for sale online. I think it’s luck of the draw.

  2. We have had absolutely no luck with garage sales. We use freecycle (http://www.freecycle.org/) and reuseit (http://www.reuseitnetwork.org) to give our stuff away for free. It is the best thing ever – the deal is that you can’t sell it (so it may not be what you’re looking for) and in your listing, you just say, “you must pick it up within X hours/days/etc.” People come to your house to get your crap (and I am serious, we’ve gotten rid of a lot of junk this way – we don’t throw ANYTHING out anymore). We even give our deposit bottles and cans away on reuseit because we hate taking them in for the refund, but can’t just waste them since someone else could use the money. I used to worry that our neighbors would hate it (our neighborhood is newer and has an association and stuffy people), but it’s not been an issue. We just label the stuff for each person and set it on our front stoop. They come to get it, and you rarely have to even talk to them.

    If you’re wondering if this would work for you, here are some of the more obscure things we’ve given away (and people flood our email for these items): broken lawn chairs (yes, broken), moldy patio furniture (honestly!), flakey blinds, slabs of marble that were in the basement of B’s first house (should have sold those – they were worth $600 or so but we didn’t know any better), super old computer monitors, unused greeting cards, notebooks that are HALF used, old chair, shoes, spark plugs (HA!), box of hangers – YOU NAME IT!

    Those items will be out of your garage by Wednesday if you reuseit. 🙂

    • OMG: this is awesome. THANK YOU!!

      • You bet! I hope it works for you! Sometimes people don’t come get the stuff, but there’s always a ton of people in your inbox waiting in line for your junk. Seriously. It NEVER fails! I told B that I told you about this (he’s the one who introduced it to me) and he asked where you lived and when I said “Bay Area,” he nodded his head and said, “she can be rid of it before mid-week.” I do think he wants your chaise though. HA!

        Good luck! If you do this, please use an email address you use just for spam stuff – you’re going to get a lot of emails!

  3. We had pretty good luck last time because we announced it as a “Dollar Store Sale.” Everything for a dollar. Because really, all we wanted was to get rid of stuff. Granted, we didn’t have anything really worth of purchase, like a chaise lounge or designer baby clothes. 🙂 (And actually, the few good clothes we’ve been given that I don’t pass on to other people I tend to consign, so I can then use that credit to buy the kids bigger clothes. It’s like a great recycling machine.)

    Wish I had better advice!

  4. Seeing a close up pic of your son and after seeing you in person, I realized how much he looks like you! Beautiful! I’m so sorry you had a horrible garage sale. I wish I could give you my luck with them. We also always do a 2 day sale. I think it’s also in my area people love garage sales. I know I grew up loving them. You should definitely look into consigning some of your stuff. It might sell better.
    You made me cry when you said you were saving some for me. You are so sweet!

  5. So sorry it didn’t work out, especially with all the effort you put in. For items that you do want to sell Craig’s List always worked better for us. Good luck!

  6. Did you advertise at colleges and universities? For students or fraternities or sororities?

  7. I like the IDEA of a garage sale. I’m always hearing about how much money people made on theirs. But it still seems like an awful lot of work to me, & I’m sure there’s always going to be stuff leftover that I’d wind up taking to Goodwill anyway. So I usually just take stuff to Goodwill.

  8. cw

    A few months ago our neighbours put on a massive garage sale. The combined with family and had so much stuff. A full day of selling and they made about $50 and they still had so much stuff left over. She was gutted. I just think these days eBay and other selling outlets are the way and people just don’t do Garage Sales anymore which is sad because how much fun is it to rummage through items till you find a winner!

    I totally love that you made little vignettes though to appeal to the buyer – you must have been after a more discerning market than the ones that showed up!

  9. How frustrating, and I bet you had one of the nicest looking garage sales! I’ve never tried a garage sale, but have had luck selling big items on craigslist. We’ve managed to sell a truck, a kitchen stove, microwave and baker’s rack. Maybe try that for the furniture? I love that chaise, it’s gorgeous, btw. And umm..if you have any boys 2T and bigger clothing you still need to sell? I’m interested and set up on paypal. 🙂 e-mail me!

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