Observations on a moderately successful garage sale

Saturday, June 14th 2014

Today was the annual Laurelhurst Garage and my family took the opportunity to try and clear-out the garage. We'd never tried this before and it was interesting to note what worked about the garage sale and what didn't. Some observations:

  • Big-items are hard to sell, and in some cases hard to even give-away. The big give-away item was my piano, which attracted a lot of attention but ultimately stayed-put. I'd kind of expected this outcome but was more surprised to see the tables, desks & chairs we'd set out stay put without attracting so much as an inquiry.  The only big piece of furniture we moved was an interesting, vintage dresser that would probably look amazing restored... and that was to a family friend!
  • It's helpful to have one item that will draw people in, even if not one buys it. In our case it was a busted-up saxophone. It got many polite inquiries and looks — more than anything else we had out even — but no buyers. Still, it seemed to pique people's curiosities and might've helped generate a sale or two of some of the smaller items...
  • ...but while we're on that topic, the majority of the things I sold today were music things — pieces of guitars, trombones, keyboards and the like. It seemed to be what set our sale apart from most of the others in the neighborhood and it generated a lot of conversation. People seem to be out looking for unusual, uncommon things. The more practical things like tables, chairs, shoes and shelves just weren't super popular.
  • It never hurts to have a $1 box. I had an assortment of USB cables to devices I hardly recalled owning, thumb drives, RAM chips and similar tech detritus I wasn't sure what to do with and threw them in such a box. Second to the music stuff it was quite popular.
  • A young boy who couldn't been much older than 8 was fascinated with the piano and kept coming by to play The Entertainer — a song he'd learned taking piano lessons at Ethos, Inc., a community music center. The first time it was just him; the second time he brought his friend; the third time it was his friend and cookies; the fourth time it was his friend, cookies and his friend's older brother; the fifth time... Well, there was no fifth time. The fourth visit coupled with persistent inquiries about whether any of the stuff still around would be "free" made me decide to close it down. I jokingly told them the next time they come by to play the piano they'd have to buy it...
  • ...and speaking of jokes, if you're trying to give away a piano for free you can joke that purchasing anything else at the garage sale comes with a free piano! They will probably laugh. Your family who has heard it fifty times that day will not.