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Friday, January 15, 2010

YARD SALES

I don't think my neighborhood is much different than anyone else's in suburbia, we have our share of feuding neighbors, an obnoxious and overbearing homeowner association, an army of Spanish-speaking landscapers who take care of the lawns, and yard sales, lot's of yard sales. I'm not sure why they call it a "yard" sale as they are primarily held in driveways and garages. I prefer to call them "garage gridlocks" as they tend to tie up traffic in the community or "Walmart wannabes" for their inclination to attract strange looking people searching for rock bottom bargains.

People typically host a yard sale whenever their junk exceeds the storage capacity of their garages, attics or basements, usually once every other year. This is junk which should have been thrown out twenty years ago, but is retained in the hopes it will be worth something some day which, of course, never comes. There are also the "professional" people who routinely host a yard sale once a month. These are the same people who also enjoy the sport of dumpster diving whereby they fish for the next piece of junk to sell to the public. Just wipe it off with a sponge, claim it is a family heirloom, and some poor slob will pay dearly for it.

Here in Florida, a yard sale typically lasts from 7:00am to 12 noon. The hard core shoppers are there bright and early (some will even camp out in your driveway like they're waiting to buy a hot ticket to something). These are the professional shoppers and are looking to swoop in and buy the best stuff before anyone else arrives. With great finesse, they graciously offer to take the goods off your hands (at a fraction of the asking price). They will then turn around and sell the merchandise on eBay at a considerable profit.

It's bad enough when one person holds a yard sale, but it's bedlam when your neighborhood hosts a community event where everyone is selling something, thereby turning a quiet and pristine neighborhood into a grungy flea market, complete with people who come down with a bad case of the stupids. My neighborhood hosted such an event one time. I didn't participate, but my garage was open while I was preparing to cut my grass. By God, if I didn't get a few people walk into my garage and ask me how much I wanted for the lawnmower (no joke). I also had to yell at people to move their vehicles off the edge of my lawn. To make matters worse, we couldn't escape our neighborhood as the roads were clogged with clods. I've found the best thing to do when a community yard sale is scheduled is to close up the house tight as a drum, run the lawn sprinklers (thereby discouraging people from parking on your property), and wait until the mayhem has subsided.

It's also interesting to see how the same junk sold at one yard sale reappears at another. Either junk is recycled between neighbors or the dumpster divers are working overtime, or maybe there is some junk you simply cannot throw away. I suspect the latter. I think most of the items sold at yard sales has been circulating since the 1920's and has actually traversed the United States several times.

At the end of the day, you finally count the money you collected from the yard sale. Although you had envisioned making hundreds of dollars, you are disappointed when you discover you only made $52.65. You then have to cleanup after the sale, put the rest of your junk either back in the basement or the dumpster (where the divers are eagerly awaiting), and pour yourself a strong drink to relax. Let's see now, hmm... You worked your tail off, watched filthy people run their grubby hands through your stuff, listened to insulting offers, and yelled at people to move their cars. Yep, for $52.65, it was all worth it.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

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Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.