Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Yardies

I participated in a yard sale today. My condo association sponsored it, ran newspaper ads and gave us the space. All it cost was $10 for the privilege. It gives us the chance to rid ourselves of the accumulated junk that we don't have room for in our already-cramped condos.

Ebay ruins yard sales. The online experience allows bidders to price-up an item that they want and what sellers wind up with is a fair market value for their stuff. The same cannot be said for yard sales. People who attend yard sales work from the advantage of supply and demand. We have the supply and no longer demand the stuff, so the shoppers expect incredible deals for things that are worth much more than their eventual selling price. I don't know if they have an official name, but I call them The Yardies.

For example, I had a box of CDs that I no longer listen to. Either it's because I have already converted them to mp3 files or I just don't want to listen to them. Either way, the CDs are still in like-new condition, and a reasonable person would expect to be able to get $5 for them. When you consider that it would cost $9.99 to download the content from iTunes, selling them for five bucks would seem to be half price. But no.

The Yardies drive the price down. How far? I sold mine for fifty cents and heard from a few shoppers that somebody was selling them for twenty-five cents. Twenty-five cents? How about I just mark them "free" and you just take them – is what I wanted to say.

I had some nice junk that I'd have liked to unload, including an unworn pair of Nike sneakers that I was pricing between 30 and 40 dollars, depending on who was asking. At one point, I received a string of Spanish exclamations when I told a woman that I was asking $30 for them. Hey lady, try buying a brand new pair of Nike shoes for less than $80 and tell me how you do – is what I wanted to say.

The yard sale people are a strange ilk. I think of the TV show "Hoarders" when I see them roaming around with cars full of stuff that they have bought from us. My friend Jennifer sold a set of dinnerware for ten bucks. The woman who bought it had her husband carry it home in the car on his lap because the rest of the vehicle was filled with other yard sale items. They were headed for Wildwood. 75 miles with a set of plates on your lap. They are probably done having children by this point.

I wound up making $68 for the day, which isn't too bad for four hours. I had anticipated making more than that, but what I hadn't anticipated was the bargaining influence that the yard sale brings out. The concept of "fair market value" goes out the window and you have to get in the mindset of ridding yourself of things that you don't want to schlep home. For example, I sold a perfectly good DVD player for ten bucks and several DVDs for two dollars each. That's only a dollar more than it costs to rent them for a night.

And I never did sell those shoes.