The Yard Sale Tesseract

We’re trying to sell all kinds of junk today in a yard sale outside my sister’s house: old shoes, striped mugs, a thirty year old food processor, baby clothes, and, among many other things, a kid’s riding toy that looks like a huge worm.

It would appear there’s nothing you can’t sell.

It’s kind of like being in a parallel universe where there’s a huge demand for over-sized rubber ducks, and there’s no shame in negotiating 25 cents off a 50 cent item.

Other reasons a yard sale makes me feel like I’ve gone through a tesseract?

1.  a dvd recently bought for $14.99 is sold for $1, and that’s after the customer negotiated it down from $2

2. a green robe hangs from the handle of a stationary bike, and there’s a My Little Pony on the seat.  You could own all three for $11.25. And this all seems completely normal

3. the cook book I thought I couldn’t wait to get rid of suddenly takes on new meaning and importance when I’m about to sell it to a stranger for 75 cents

4. all the best stuff gets snatched up in the first thirty minutes.  Then you have the rest of the day for someone to buy “Host Your Own 80s Night” which is sitting next to the book, “Dog Training, Fly Fishing, and Sharing Christ in the 21st Century”.  There is clearly no one person on the planet who would be remotely interested in buying either of these things, yet you can’t start packing it all up at 7:30am

5. who owns this stuff?  when did I buy it? and who am I trying to kid, offering for sale things I would gladly pay $20 to someone if they were willing to take away the whole lot?

6. my sister has four kids.  I have four kids.  Between the 8 of them all they want to do is buy each other’s stuff.

So what’s the strangest thing you’ve ever bought or sold at a yard sale?

5 Replies to “The Yard Sale Tesseract”

  1. My late first wife, Em, was a *professional* garage saler. She know what neighborhood sales sold what, and so my son Jasper wore nearly-new Carter clothes that cost 10c to 25c when other garage sales were trying to sell stained off-brand clothes for 75c to $2. I also bought a lot of hand tools, the good ones, name brands with lifetime guarantees. We spent almost every Saturday snooping though other people’s junk.

    Books don’t sell well at garage sales, because they are such a niche item. Go into a bookstore with 30,000 titles, and you may or may not buy a book, so if you go to a garage sale and there are 30 titles, are you likely to want any? Janet Daily romances and Louis L’Amour westerns would get snapped up fast, and once in a while, someone would offer porn, but anything else, people would paw through and turn up their noses. The price was immaterial. Ask $2 or ask 10c, if they want it, they buy it, if they don’t, they won’t.

    People don’t haggle over a 50c item for 25c because they need the 25c, but because the haggle is part of the fun. We don’t get to haggle in WalMart. Find something and haggle the price down to 25c, and you can show it to your friends and say “Look at what I got – and I was able to work him down to 25c!” There’s not much haggle in Craftsman tools or good furniture, but everything else, you need to ask more than what you’ll settle for.

  2. This isn’t a strange thing I’ve bought or sold, however…

    My wife and I own a sporting goods store. We mostly sell hockey items. We’ve had these very nice Bauer hoodies in the store for about a year now and they just have not sold. So, when my wife said she was having a garage sale, I took 2 racks of these hoodies home and told her to sell them for whatever she wanted and she could keep the coin. She figured she’d price them at about a third of what they were worth at regular retail…$75 down to $25, etc…keep in mind, we live in Canada…no $30 branded hoodies, here. Well, a bunch of our relatives were the first ones to show up and they pretty much cleared the racks! However, my wife made enough to purchase a nice trampoline for the kids, so, all in all, well worth getting the “junk” out of the store.

  3. … one morning I got a very hip pair of white Italian shoes for $2, no haggling. Oh, and I bought some DVD’s, as well, what was it now, Shawshank Millionare? or Slumdog Redemption? something like that….


    1. i saw the shoes, and in my book they go down as the best yard sale deal ever.

  4. I LOVE TO YARD SALE!!! My mom’s nickname is Yardsale. Some of our best purchases have been, Cranium brand new still in wrapper, $2. Coleman camping stove, $10. Brand new tent in box, 2 rooms 8 persons, $30. I also spent $27 on clothing and shoes for my daughter… it was 3 garbage bags and each piece and pair of shoes was 25 cents! We’ve gotten power tools and all sorts of stuff from yard sales. But it’s totally true you need to get there when it starts or you’ll miss some of the best stuff that’s offered.

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