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 =)