The Death of The Garage Sale


Make-money-selling-clothes-onlineGoodbye to Rummage Sales and Farewell to Estate Auctions! The cellphone has killed them off! That’s right, of all the free Apps you can download, there is none more ingeniously convenient than the one that allows you to make an appointment to invite local strangers to your home, knock on your door and promptly hand you cash for your trash, err I mean your used items.

I got so excited when someone told me about these apps (with names like Close 5, Nearby, and Shop/Swap/Plop/Drop (okay, I made that last one up) that I downloaded ten different ones.

It didn’t take long to notice that the same adverbs were repeatedly used to describe all aspects of my neighborhood’s resale merchandise. Everything was “Gently” worn or “Lightly” used or “Gingerly” sat upon. Where were all the items that had the living crap beat out of them, like the junk I needed to get rid of from my basement? “Designer Heels Slightly Walked In!” Seriously? Nobody tiptoed gracefully around our home in their sneakers. No, they stomped and romped, scuffed and roughed until a pair of Keds had zero treads and was reduced to mere threads.

Even the garbage collector would turn their nose up at our offerings and Goodwill would remind me that the emphasis should be on the word, “Good.”

Nonetheless being a writer, I caught on quickly about how to profile my stuff so I could competitively advertise with the best of ’em. For instance – – My great Aunt Martha’s badly scratched chest (but she once had a nice set of bosoms) with six drawers (stuck in the “pulled out” position) and made of pinkish particle board instantly became:

“An artistically etched antique rosewood bureau (french words always add class!) containing a half dozen open display shelves to showcase your negligees!”

when I got through listing the ad. My cellphone buzzed with interest and a full price offer was promptly made.

I learned two words to include in all my little ads that are guaranteed to elevate anything old, outdated and ugly into something special.  “Vintage” and “Retro.” Why my own face, eyes, hands, complexion and butt can’t be described similarly is beyond me but regardless, I’m grateful for the inanimate object glorification these two terms provide so that I can get top dollar for my great Aunt Martha’s hand-me-downs.

I also take a tip from real marketers and list many of my items with exciting tag lines like, “Brought back by popular demand!” (this was written about my king-sized mattress) or “Buy this and get another one free!” (I use this with things that normally come in pairs, like gloves and bookends.) But my favorite tagline is, “Help me remove the excess Junk in my Trunk!”

Meeting the suckers  people in the flesh who were about to fork over their hard-earned cash for my old shlocky wedding gifts (forget that the ink on my marriage license has long dried up, hell our divorce decree is completely yellowed from 20 years of being framed and hung on a sunny wall) was a fascinating experience. We are talking highly motivated buyers here.

After going to the trouble of borrowing their friend’s large SUV vehicle, programming my address into their GPS, then standing awkwardly in my living room while my six kids watched hopefully, praying this purchase would put them firmly into Disneyland territory, (and knowing they could run into me again in our local grocery market) were these strangers really going to say, “On second thought. That’s the grossest thing that’s ever been born into the second-hand consignment market. I’ve changed my mind. Goodbye!”

No Siree, baby!  If these people bid on something online, you can consider it SOLD! (Too bad online dating doesn’t work that way.)

However imagine my surprise when last week, I read the description of a piece of furniture that I just knew I had to have. It was an “armoire!” It was teakwood! It had ample storage! It was a “Designer’s Delight!” So I raced over to the address with the money I had just obtained from selling my mattress burning a hole in my pocket, jogged up their driveway, pounded excitedly on their door — only to look past the expectant eyes of their darling children and see that it was my old great Aunt Martha’s cruddy chest, with a new coat of paint on it.

“Well, hope you have fun at Disneyland, kids!” I said and handed over a crisp $100 bill.

Tomorrow I’m putting an ad up in Craigslist.  It will be for a Garage Sale so I can properly palm this thing off onto somebody else the old-fashioned way.

 

 

 

 

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15 thoughts on “The Death of The Garage Sale

  1. Hi Stephanie,
    I had no idea apps were making traditional garage sales obsolete. I have friends in the estate sale business. I hope they will be okay.
    Question: Are you still interested in guest posting for my site? I don’t recall getting anything from you. If you are still interested, I’d love to have you. Is that how we left things? Were you going to send me an article? There is no rush; I just want to know if it’s still forthcoming. Thanks. Hope all is well.
    Janice

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  2. You certainly take this to a whole new level. You have given me some great ideas about how to be creative in this arena. For instance, I had several unmatched kids socks, I used your technique and labeled them as designer mismatch pairs and was able to fetch top dollar. Thanks, you are the best. BTW . . . I’ll leave the next comment on your phone.

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  3. So I take it that I will have a great many takers if I run this ad: “Uncle Bardie has some vintage odes for a few discriminating buyers. His comedic turns of the phrase can be exclusively yours if you truly desire the retro in your witticisms. Only one to a customer.”

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  4. Perhaps you could have just sold Aunt Martha’s bosoms instead.
    Have you ever gone into a Crossroads store? They buy used clothes but they’re quite picky. It’s very insulting when they turn you away. I often want to say, “Have you SEEN some of the crap that’s on your shelves?” Your poem reminded me.

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