Sunday, March 24, 2013

First yard sale of the season

This morning, while out running errands in town, we happened upon a sign steering us towards a big moving sale a couple of blocks away. It's a bit early yet for yard sales, especially with the temperature around 40 degrees and a brisk wind blowing, but it's our policy never to pass one by, so we walked the couple of blocks and checked it out. It turned out to be mostly kids' toys and clothes, the sort of stuff we normally pass by after a cursory glance—but we took the time to check out everything, and a good thing we did, because we unearthed a few hidden treasures priced at way, way below their original value.

The two ladies hosting the sale clearly understood the key to running a successful yard sale: price to sell. After all, the point of having a yard sale isn't to get back as much of your money as possible; if you want to do that, you sell individual items through the want ads, or take them to a dealer who understands their value. The point of a yard sale is to unload as much stuff as possible, so these two ladies declared their goal to be "collecting dollar bills." When Brian picked up the Big Dump (about which more in a minute) and asked the price, the seller said "Two dollars," and when he paused for the merest fraction of a second, immediately revised that to "One dollar." And as it turned out, we bought two other items for a dollar apiece each, all of them super good deals. Here's what we found, and what it would have cost new:
  1. A vintage Tonka Big Dump truck from the 1980s, made of actual steel (none of this flimsy plastic they use nowadays). This is an item you can no longer buy new, because they just don't make them like that anymore—but Brian found similar ones on eBay priced between $13 and $60. The lowest price is a starting bid, so it will probably sell for more in the end; the highest is marked "or best offer," so it will probably go for less. The two marked "Buy it Now" are $35 and $40, so that's probably the best estimate of what this thing is really worth today.
  2. A pair of black women's pants, Merona brand, sold at Target. This particular style seems no longer to be available, but other Merona pants in comparable styles are selling for $20 to $30. Unfortunately, there was no way to try these on at the sale, and when I got them home I found that, while they're wearable, they're not exactly flattering on me—and they don't have pockets, which is a pet peeve of mine. So they probably won't be worn much, but for a buck, it was certainly worth the risk. They can still serve as an emergency laundry-day backup.
  3. An extra-long extension cord, which is a must for working in the yard. (All our power tools, like the hedge trimmer and the string trimmer, are electric-powered, because we don't want to deal with the hassle, mess, smell, and emissions of gasoline.) These long cords go for anywhere from $13 to a whopping $133 at Home Depot, so we saved at least $12 with this purchase.
So, just by going a few blocks out of our way, we saved nearly 50 bucks (not counting the pants, since that's an item I probably wouldn't have bought in a store). The moral of the story: never pass up a yard sale sign, not even if it's cold out.
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