48 hours after the fact, I remain wiped out from our nine-hour 90-degree yard sale last Saturday. Six families contributed assorted items, leftovers, and baked goods as a charity event to benefit three different needs identified by our church on local, national, and international levels. Our results exceeded our humble expectations by far will hopefully fund many a blessing in the future, but fell short of 100% sell-through.
Luckily for my overcrowded bookshelves, my set of the first eighteen Garfield collections sold in the first hour to an elderly gentleman who also carted off a second armload of children’s books. I was equally glad to pass along a Wheel of Fortune home game that we’d used only once but ultimately rejected when its questionable structural integrity began to damage our calm. My wife cheerfully chatted with the two separate families that now provide new homes for her duplicate Star Trek: the Next Generation still-on-card action figures. A pair of small boys each gave a quarter for the only other action figures on hand, a loose Nightwing and an unidentified all-gray DragonBall Z figurine with one point of articulation. A discerning music collector nabbed himself four zero-hit Oasis CDs (naturally we retained Live Forever and What’s the Story, Morning Glory?). The most surprising sale was our redundant copy (long story) of Spider-Man: the Complete Clone Saga Epic, Book 4.
The other five families had their share of victories, notably in the departments of tiny girl clothing, Disney Animated Classics on white-cased VHS, men’s tools (the hot item of the day — figuratively at first, then literally after hours of sitting in intense sunshine), the aforementioned baked goods, and extremely heavy objects.
If we do this again, next time we’ll have a better idea of what not to bring. I’m not sure why I thought a charity drive was the right place to give up old horror anthologies like Kirby McCauley’s Dark Forces and David Hartwell’s The Dark Descent. Also untouched were my dub copies of Metallica’s S&M, which wore out their welcome long ago after a second listening, but somehow evaded all my previous collection culls. My wife’s Grease soundtrack sat alone and unloved all day. My thirty-year-old copies of Bargain Hunter and Life, both still playable, went into the Goodwill sacks at closing time. The only two large-scale objects that she and I brought, our obsolete 25″ CRT TV and my ancient microwave, returned home with us perfectly functional yet rejected by all.
In fact, all things CRT wound up the biggest loser category of the day. We started at eight a.m. with eight CRT monitors and one flatscreen monitor. We ended the day with eight CRT monitors. By one p.m. we were willing to make crazy deals with the few customers bold enough to brave the afternoon heat just for roadside discounts, but no one would touch the monitors. By three p.m. one of our more adventurous companions was offering a free monitor to every customer, with or without a purchase. No luck. Imagine if the concept of “Get Eight Monitors for Just One Penny!” had been concocted years ago, perhaps Columbia House and BMG might still be in business today. Such a shame that window of opportunity has now passed. Customers were kind enough to continue making charitable donations in addition to their small random purchases, but Adopt-a-Monitor was a total no-go.
Maybe we should’ve added Garfield stickers on the sides of each one and labeled them “Collector’s Item Classics!” or even “Actual props from that one scene in Office Space!” Maybe that’s what we need to work on for our next yard sale. Maybe our problem wasn’t poor merchandise, but poor marketing.