Thirty years ago, after my last yard sale, I swore I'd never again put forth so much effort for so little monetary return. But the kids wanted to make a few bucks and I wanted out from under all our stuff.
After the cleaning and sneezing, ticketing and sorting, after calling the neighbors to warn of (I hoped) lots of traffic, after borrowing tables, making signs, hanging signs, posting on Craig's list and telling every single friend and family member not to come (I was selling some of their old gifts) we were ready for our own personal black Friday on Saturday.
We hauled our stuff to the end of our 1,000-foot driveway in the woods at 6 a.m., set up by 7 a.m., and hoped for the best. My oldest daughter was unable to be there because of a previous commitment, so we had to track her sales along with ours.
The first to show up - a swarm of mosquitoes. I made a mad dash back to the house for repellent. And then the dealers came. I used to sell antiques and imagined some of my items showing up on Antiques Roadshow, but I figured if a stranger made a financial windfall because I was uninformed, good for them.
The first customer was a classic I had been warned about by friends. For her $5 item she handed over a $100 dollar bill. Shop early with big bills and yard-salers usually let the items go for free, so as not to deplete their shoebox full of change. I was prepared. The only items I planned on giving away free would be the leftovers donated the following Monday.
During the course of the day folks came and went (even connected with some old antique-buddies) and negotiations for lower prices continued. One middle-aged father showed up with his young daughter, she was about 10. The little girl shopped and the father sat down and played one of the two guitars we had for sale. It was nice. He was friendly. They left with a tiny purple stapler and a small, well-used purse which had belonged to the daughter who was unable to help that day.
Within minutes the father and daughter returned, the little girl had found $42 in my daughter's purse. We were astounded, not only by the find, but because they actually returned with the money. I gave the little girl a $10 reward and after they left I felt guilty that I didn't let her keep the entire amount. I quickly checked the rest of the purses and found a nice pair of earrings. The balance of the found-money went toward our dinner of pizzas and salad that night.
Regarding the effort put forth, my kids did okay. As for me, I used my windfall to buy a new laptop, on which I am typing these very words. But I still wish I had given the little girl all the money she had found. Enough said.