Saturday, August 22, 2009

Yard Sailing Away...

The last time I did a yard sale was six years ago. The twins were about 1.5 years old, DD about 4 and I was much younger. This was also about the time when I used to breastfeed while cooking lasagna for dinner parties of twelve.

My father-in-law and my DH had been tasked with watching the kids, at least that was the idea. Things were going well until a well-meaning person pointed to my porch. I shook my head and said, no, the table on the porch wasn't for sale. She shook her head back at me and pointed again.

I turned around to see one of my twins standing on the porch, with her pull up, full with a few hours of pee, down by her ankles. I completed the transaction (a sale's a sale, after all) and ushered her into the house with rather loud instructions to the two men to get with the program or take over the sale. Running a yard sale with three kids under three was hard enough. With a distracted husband and father-in-law to boot? I swore I'd never do one again.

But why, six summers later, have I gone back on that vow? It's about a garage I'm coveting. A red brick two car garage that has been filled with the overflow of our lives for the last ten years, ever since we moved into our little dream ranch house in Longmont. When we moved in our oldest was just under a year old and we literally opened the door and threw our belongings into wherever they would land. And I'm still looking for the things I misplaced.

But this summer, after deciding that my consulting business, One Purpose PR & Communications (yes, shameless promotion), was worthy of being expanded into what I'm doing for the rest of my life, I also decided that the red brick garage would be the perfect office, studio and private mamazblogging space. Problem was that every time I entered into the garage, I had an anxiety attack. The stuff. So much stuff.

But just as I was undaunted six years ago by yard sales with young children and breastfeeding twins while cooking, I rolled up my short sleeves and started going through all that stuff. I organized it, sorted it and catalogued it into storage boxes and decided, that after a six year yard sale hiatus, it was time for another one.

That was in June. Today's date is August 22.

In between, the girls have negotiated hard for the return of their unused by still loved Beanie Baby shelf, but only if they agreed to sell the pink Barbie car. Items were played with one more time and then reluctantly put back into the yard sale toy bin, but only with the promise of BIG BUCKS.

I woke up this morning at 6am, made strong coffee and began dragging out the boxes. DH woke up a little bit later, then the girls and before I knew it the whole family was pulling together to get the yard sale open and ready for business. The twins helped hang the posters that they and their sister had made the night before. We fought over whether to put directional arrows on the signs, with our oldest storming off claiming creative integrity. I tried to talk our oldest into letting me use her allowance money for our starting bank, but she stood firm and they held down the fort while I went and got cash. By 8:28 a.m., we had come together as a family with minimal insanity and the yard sale was ready.

And then we waited. And waited.

Having a yard sale is a lot like throwing a party. The anxiety of getting ready, of waiting for the guests, or in our case, the customers, to arrive. Worrying if they don't, or what to do with them if they do.

And they did. First customer was a mother who literally squealed with glee when I told her the priced to move deals on girls' clothing. Our first sale.

With a bittersweet feeling, I watched a young mother put our oldest's first bike in her car for her three year old. A pregnant woman bought a much loved and worn, but still very chic shirt I wore during, between and after both pregnancies.

I'm not a great negotiator. Never have been and probably will never be. As far as sales transactions go, I'm motivated by movement and I wanted to move the stuff off of my yard. I balked at a Russian woman who responded $2.00 to my $2.50 counter offer so forcefully, that I caved in and then went ahead and just asked folks to pay what they felt was fair. And they did.

And so the stuff went. Not all of it. Not for the amount we had dreamed of cashing in on. But what I found out today is this - that what we make in a yard sale is not the point. What we make are connections with strangers who no longer were strangers by the time they drove off, whether they bought something or not. Some of the connection were through broken English and my not-even qualified as broken Spanish. Some of the connections were made by those who just wanted to stop by as an excuse to have some conversation. Like the older gentleman who took out his wallet not to pay for anything, but to show me a lovingly worn photograph of his oldest grandson and grandaughter in-law, both of who are being deployed to Iraq next month.

Yes, I'm exhausted. More exhausted than I am after a rigorous 90 minute Bikram class.

But at the end of the day, my red brick dream office is about half-way closer to being ready to move into. Our take for the day? A grand total of $75.

Would I do it again? Yep.

Tomorrow seems like a perfect day for meeting some more folks and yard sailing it forward.

Yard sailing away. Yard sailing away...


Kathleen Christensen said...

I joined in a garage sale recently. Similar experience: Lovely people to yack with. Poignant goodbyes to my daughter's trike, her rocking horse, and a bunch of her clothes. A small take compared with amount of stuff I put out.

But I won't be doing it again. I'm ready to keep things flowing out of the house instead of letting them clog up the garage for years. But maybe I have a bigger issue with clutter than you do! :-) I blogged about the experience in these two posts: and

JDG said...

Yard sailing away ... yard sailing away

What a fun piece --and such a brilliant title

BTW, you think I was distracted six summers ago?


Lisa Trank-Greene said...

Maybe distracted was not the right word - overwhelmed?

Lisa Trank-Greene said...

Kathleen, I love the posts on your blog on the garage sale - the clutter is always there, huh? Trying to let go and not make me so anxious...

Gail said...

Lisa, great post. I've had a number of garage sales in my life and it's wonderful to see something I no longer need go to a happy home.