Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Down about Discounts

To prepare for the garage sale we had over the weekend, I had to price everything that I wanted to sell. These included several sets of stoneware dishes (nothing fancy), many mismatched pieces of cutlery, a few cutting boards, an iron, a coffee maker, some vases, a GameCube console, mugs, some swag office bags, and knives.

For some reason, I had a hard time pricing my wares. I was entirely content to give everything away for free to some worthy charity, but when it came to my having to sell these things, I found myself wanting to mark up the prices to what I felt the items were worth... to me. In the case of the bags, many of them I wanted to mark up to $5 because they were brand new. It was hard for me to list things for $0.25 or even $3. Whoever heard of a $3 coffee maker?! An operable one, no less.

As people trickled in that morning, I was initially very very excited to see some of my stuff getting purchased for their marked prices, even if these were lower than my natural instinct would have priced them at. I was even willing to give an additional discount or two on items when people bought in large quantities. It never ceased to amaze me what people chose to buy; who would want a silly stuffed cushion, or wrought-iron pillar candle holders with wax stuck to the base of it? It was an interesting real-world example of the old adage, "one man's trash is another man's treasure." It also annoyed me to witness people attempting to haggle on an already-marked-down item; this wasn't the Ladies Market in Hong Kong, this was our garage sale!

Then the real sting of the sale hit. When the rain poured down and the clock struck 4:00, my savvy sis and bro-in-law knew that we had limited chances to rid ourselves of what remained in the garage. Their solution? Make them a deal. They marked a bunch of stuff down (my coffee maker ended up going for a measly $1), shoved all the $0.25 items onto the "free" table, and sold items in "sets" for lump sums.

It pained me to witness my valuable goods, all in working order and good condition, going for next to nothing. It would have been easier to give them away, I think, than watch them get so devalued at an end-of-day super sale.

And yet, as the sale wrapped up, I was informed that my stuff had brought in an extra $57. Not bad, considering how cheap we unloaded everything for. The remaining few items (there really weren't many) were loaded into the van and carted to Goodwill.

I learned a few lessons during this, my first, garage sale. I learned that a) the value of an item to me is not always the value of the item to someone else, b) people will always want to bargain down the price so it isn't wrong to price things according to how I value them, since that will always give me more room to haggle, and c) don't throw anything out that can be sold; one would be surprised at the sort of things that people are willing to buy!

I am now excited about our next garage sale (presumably to be held next summer). From here on, I am going to kick my packratitis into high gear and store up everything that we no longer need, for the future sale. Maybe, given my newfound insight into how to be a good seller, I'll be able to make $75 next year. Certainly, I know my prices are going to be a bit higher ;)

**** Incidentally, we found and adopted an abandoned filing cabinet this morning. Guess someone else's trash became my treasure =)


Cristina :) said...

Congrats! I made 100 bux at my first one and 145 at my second one! I had a single guy with no kids buy a boppy from me because he thought it was some kinda stomach pillow for like leaning on. WHATEVER. Who cares! I also found that pricing is tricky, but as my point was to seriously purge, I wanted to sell things as low as possible so long as I was making something on it. A nickel or dime here, a buck or two here. I don't think I had much over three or four bux besides HUGE items that were knew, like a baby swing or high chair. Other than that, Things were REALLY low! Some stuff that didn't sell at my sale, I craigslisted and made MORE money on! :) I made about 120 bux after my second garage sale on craigslist! :) LOVE selling my stuff now! :) Curb finds are great too! 'Lena got her play kitchen that way (looked very well taken care of, no missing parts or stickers, clean, and its a great brand!) I'm going to craigslist that this week and hopefully make something off of the find that she has had months playing with now. :) Hope you keep to your new ways. I want to keep to aquiring less and living with less clutter and junk in my life when we move!! *wish me luck*

Mrs. Loquacious said...

Way to go, babe! $100, $145...not so shabby! :) That and a more "clean" home are, in many ways, more valuable than the "treasures" we got rid of, I suppose. It's just the cheap-wad in me, borne of my many years apprenticing under the ultimate pack-rats (my parents), that have issue with someone else getting for nearly *nothing* what I had to work blood/sweat/tears to acquire.

Never done the Craiglist thing; I hate their ugly user interface (geek term: the look of the site). I'm so glad you got great stuff off it for Lena though! That said, hope you're not selling off ALL her stuff, esp. if baby bro/sis isn't too far in the future!!!

Best wishes on the "simple life" girl! Down in TX where all things are bigger and better and cheaper, though...this could be a tough challenge for y'all ;)

Cristina :) said...

Living in a small apt for at least one year...that should keep things easier for a while! :) Not all her toys, but it is almost Christmas and her Birthday again, and she'll be around more ppl buying her stuff, so I'm not worried about it! I really do think you are right. My parents are the same and there are ROOMS of the house dedicated to storage of crap that I'm certain they hvae forgotten about. I kept telling myself (esp when parting with things i adored, like baby clothes --we had SO MUCH!! too much for any one child!) that the items would help some other beautiful baby somewhere who could not afford these things or did not have loving ppl in her life to shower her with gifts like Lena had. That helped me get through departing with items for a buck or two! :)

Ontario Emperor said...

If you place a value on your time, it may be that a garage sale isn't worth the money that it brings in, especially if it lasted until 4:00. Here in Southern California, garage sales usually wrap up by noon.

Unless I have some very expensive item that I want to unload, I think I'd prefer to donate rather than hawk.

Especially since I don't have baby clothes. That's the major mover.

Cristina :) said...

Furniture does well too and appliances. We went 9-1. the latest they go here is 2 or 3. But it was great family time with us talking and having a picnic during lulls so it worked out nicely! :)