A while back, fellow blogger Elizabeth and I wrote a pair of posts discussing how we prefer to sell our excess or unwanted stuff. I like having old-fashioned garage sales. I grew up in a family that had garage sales every few years, and I enjoy the process of organizing and hosting a sale. I also have enough experience with garage sales both as a seller and as a shopper that I am fairly confident and efficient when dealing with common problems like early birds and aggressive hagglers. Beth likes selling via Craigslist and eBay because she can purge things when she is ready to do so on her own time table, and she avoids people knocking on the garage door at 5:30 a.m.
Why I Still Prefer Garage Sales
Online selling is so popular these days. My Facebook newsfeed always shows a few listings from friends who have posted on local garage sale pages. So, this past winter I decided to branch out. After my last garage sale last May, I had a few large items left over. I followed Beth’s advice and tried listing a few things online. I started with the old standby: Craigslist.
Things started well. It sometimes took a few weeks before potential buyers contacted me, but my first two sales went smoothly. I sold a toddler activity table and a play tent to two courteous, prompt buyers. I met people in my driveway. I had heard stories about how common it is for buyers to be late or not show up, so I wasn’t going to waste time waiting in a public location like the corner gas station. To be safe, I only had buyers over when my husband was home with me, and they never came in the house.
I was encouraged by my early success and listed a few more items. I also listed items on some of the Facebook garage sale pages for my area. My friends talked about how quickly they sold their items on Facebook compared to Craigslist.
I made just one good sale – a set of dishes – through Facebook. Then I tried to sell some name-brand, barely worn clothing. I set up a meeting with a woman who never showed up and never contacted me. I moved on to the next woman who expressed interest. She said she would meet me at 1 p.m. She sent a message at 1:45 saying she was on her way. It was nearly 3 before she arrived with no apology for being two hours late.
I encountered a few more flakes on Craigslist. Someone wanted to buy a rocking horse and we set up a meeting time. She never showed up but e-mailed saying, “I was so tired after work that I completely forgot. Can I pick it up later?” I gave her a time frame and never heard from her again.
I was so irritated after multiple encounters with unreliable people that I removed the rest of my Craigslist ads. “I’m collecting a pile of stuff in the basement for another garage sale,” I told my husband. “I’m done with online selling.”
While this was going on, my parents were trying to sell their camper. They expressed frustration with their local Facebook garage sale page. Many people said they were interested and asked for my parents’ location so they could look at the camper. When my mother sent them the information, she never heard from them again.
I read a thread a few months ago on a Facebook garage sale page that offered possible insight into why so many potential buyers feel it’s okay to not show up. The thread involved a seller who wanted to report yet another no-show to the page’s administrators. A surprising number of people verbally attacked her and insisted that no-shows are no big deal. “It’s just used stuff,” one said. “It’s just a few dollars,” another said. One troll remarked, “I bet you tattled on the other kids when you were in school.”
I still believe that when people say they’re going to be somewhere at a certain time, they should keep their word. It doesn’t matter if it’s “used” stuff.
Late buyers and no shows make me “jumpy” according to my husband. For instance, one day while our family ate at the dinner table, I kept glancing toward the front window to see if a car had pulled into our driveway. My husband claims this is because I have a “judger” personality according to Myers-Briggs. I like to get things done efficiently.
My husband is a judger, too, but the crazy people don’t get under his skin. “You have to set up your sales so they don’t inconvenience you,” he told me. I insisted that’s what I’m doing when I have buyers meet me at the house. “Then it should be no problem for you if they don’t show up,” he said, “since you’ve lost nothing but the few minutes you spent arranging the meeting.”
I told him he was welcome to handle the sales then. So he did. He has taken on the task of selling some of our larger, big-ticket items that make more money when they’re sold online. He’s already had a couple of successful sales. Meanwhile, I’m collecting everything else for a traditional garage sale this spring. In our house we have it both ways – we have garage sales and we sell online. It’s not a bad arrangement.
How do you prefer to clear out your unwanted or unused things?
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