Saturday, August 20, 2011

When Yard Salers Attack...

So it's taken me a week to get to this post because OMG, people, yardsalers are batshit crazy!! From the trench coat clad guy who showed up to my yard an HOUR before my sale started, looking for "electronics and whatnot," to the couple who ripped me off in my own driveway, to the guy who came back throughout the day over & over again just to peruse my wares (as if I would be revolving merchandise, I guess? At a yard sale?), I am still recovering from the hours of dealing with weirdos, fearing for my own safety and mercilessly stomping all over my own dignity by selling my used things to strangers.

Let's start at the crack of dawn, shall we? I have my iPhone alarm set to chime happy church bells because the last time I changed the tone, I was setting my alarm to wake up for the spectacle of Will & Kate's Royal Wedding (not to mention the coke-head cousin's poorly reconstructed nose, and sister Pippa's backside in that dress. Damn!). It was a glorious occasion. This time? Slightly less auspicious. The bells started chiming at 5am, but the only thing "royal" about this day was going to be the degree to which it was a pain in the ass.

While the rest of the house slept, I headed to Starbucks; had to drive a full 2 miles from my front door to find one open at that ungodly hour (there are at least 4--FOUR--closer to me, but none open at 5am. Believe me, I realize how ridiculous that is). The problem with eating a muffin at 5am? You're hungry again by 7am. This is how "second breakfast" comes to be. Second breakfast is a very bad idea, because even though you barely remember it, you did just consume something like 400 calories while only partly-conscious a few hours earlier.

Two hours later, by 7:30 (I had advertised the sale as starting at 8am), I had a yard full of people while I was still pulling crap out of my garage. One of my first sales of the day?

::sob:: Ethan's little red wagon of hope. ::sob::

It pulls at my heart strings to have let it go, but truth be told, we haven't pulled Ethan anywhere in that thing in over 2 years. It was a pain in the ass to lug back and forth to the farmer's market when we lived in Studio City, but we did it because it was a radio flyer little red wagon, damn it, and that's what you do!!!! Kid on one side, a veritable cornucopia of fresh produce on the other? It was practically mandatory in our neighborhood in LA.

But here the farmer's market isn't close enough to walk to and the handle is just low enough that you can't quite stand up straight to pull it, so by the time you get anywhere, you're on the phone with your chiropractor seeing if he can fit you in later that afternoon. More than a little red wagon of hope, it was a little red wagon of spinal misalignment. So, yes, sir, I will take your $15 cash money for my 3 year old red wagon. Sigh.

And then there was the couple who ripped me off. We'll call them the Thievy-McStealersons. They, and their grown-up son, sauntered onto my property about mid-way through the sale. The woman picked up one of my barely used Baby Bjorns that I had marked as $20 and said, "$2? I give you $2?" Um. No. No you don't give me $2. You give me $20. I said, "well, I could go $15 on it, but no less than that; it's barely used." She chucked it back down. Okay. That's fine. Not a problem. A few minutes later she held up a pair of never-worn shoes that were priced $4. Again "$2? I give you $2?" "No," I said, "those are $4." And so forth...

Several times they asked me about a duvet cover. Still in its packaging. From Crate & Barrel. A queen sized duvet cover that we were never able to use. Queen sized duvet covers from Crate & Barrel run somewhere in the neighborhood of $80-$100. I had ours marked at $15. FIFTEEN!!! A steal! And of course, the lady first offered me....$2. I felt like I was in a damn John Cusack movie.

I stood firm on the measly $15 price tag, but they kept coming back with offers. They offered me $5. I said, $12. And so forth, until we got to the point where, against my better judgment, we settled on $8. EIGHT! Ugh, I cringe just thinking of it, but one piece of advice I got prior to the sale was, "your goal is not to get rich; it's to get rid of the stuff you can't use--if you price something at $10 and someone offers you $5, just take it. At least its gone at the end of the day." So fine. I agreed on $8 for my $80 unused duvet cover.

We exchanged our wares--I gave them to duvet cover & they gave me the cash. Except.

They only gave me $6. Which I didn't notice until the duvet cover was in the tight clutches of Mrs. Thievy-McStealerson. I politely said, "oh, sir, this is only $6, we agreed on 8," to which he replied with a smile and a nod, "Yes, I know; you help me out. $6 is enough," and started to walk back to his car with his wife (who was probably pissed that she had to pay more than $2) and their son. I tried to call him back, to let him know that, um, NO. $6 was not enough, but when I said, "No, actually; you still owe me money," he just waved and said, "no, you're fine," and got into his car with the rest of the Thievy-McStealersons and drove off.

Now, let me clarify here that the last thing I care about is the money. I mean, the most I stood to make out of that deal, even by my own pricing system, was $15, hardly an amount that warrants making a scene over. And $8? $6? Its pretty much all the same, and it doesn't matter. Like I said before, the goal of the yard sale was to get rid of stuff, not rake in a fortune. And technically, I did get rid of the item and got $6 I didn't have before out of the deal. And none of this is the end of the world, but OMG, really?! You stand in someone's driveway, talk them down to like 90% off the retail price of something and then intentionally short them in the deal?!!! Who does that?! My head still spins.

And then there was the lurker. The guy who came back about four times from 7:30 until about an hour after the end of the sale, when Husband and I had hauled 2 old bookshelves out to the curb with the signs "free" written on them. He had previously bought an old Calphalon sauce pan and cover, a pair of shoes and a Parents brand cat-shaped piano toy on his other once-arounds my property, so by the time he walked up to the bookshelves and hoisted one onto each shoulder, I felt like I should be inviting him & his wife in to dinner. He was pleasant enough that I didn't quite feel a freaked-out sense of stranger danger, and he did buy things, so at least he didn't give off a creepy just-hanging-out-in-your-yard-until-you-go-out-so-I-can-break-in-and-steal-everything-you-own vibe. And his steadfast lurkiness DID garner him a sweet set of bookshelves that would have cost him $20 during the actual yard sale. So good for him. But still. That is some seriously committed, hard-core yard sale-ing for you.

But you know who I didn't feel like should invite into dinner? The Thievy-McStealersons. Funnily enough (as in not really funny at all), they showed up in our front yard at around 5pm. Three hours after we had closed up shop, hauled a carload of unsold things to Goodwill, I had showered, resigned myself to spend the rest of the day in a pair of Husband's boxers and an old t-shirt, glued to the TV in my room watching a fracking Lifetime movie called The Pregnancy Pact, the Thievy-McStealersons pulled up to our house, and began demanding their $6 back.

The problem? They had apparently been unaware that they were purchasing a duvet cover. They were under the impression that they were in fact procuring a set of sheets. Fortunately, Husband was outside playing with Ethan when the disgruntled karma-challenged trio made their grand return. Husband, who had not been present for the delight that was my initial encounter with these people, ran interference and explained that neither I nor the money was available for a chat at that time. Please note that "DUVET COVER" was written front and center on the packaging AND I specifically remember saying, "this duvet cover is brand new, never used, in its original packaging." Last I checked, "duvet cover" and "set of sheets" barely even share any of the same letters, nevermind sound anything alike. And at no time did anyone in the offended party query, "Duvet cover, you say? Exactly how does a duvet cover differ from, say, a set of sheets?" So given everything, my sympathy for their misguided purchase was nil.

Mrs. Thievy-McStealerson apparently tried to walk past Husband to come into the house. (REALLY???!!) And at that point Husband told Ethan to come inside because OMG, who knows how crazy these people are going to get over a duvet cover that cost them $6? Fortunately they left after Husband told them they really had to go, he was sorry, but there was nothing he could do to help them.

And I'll tell you, if ANYONE else I'd encountered that day had come back later saying that they'd purchased erroneously in any way, shape or form, I'd probably have given them their money back. If Little-Red-Wagon-of-Hope guy had gotten home and his kid hated the wagon ::sob::, I would have taken it, and given him his $15 back. If the Lurky-loo thought he was buying a 6-quart sauce pan, but it ended up being an 8-quart sauce pan and he already had one of those at home? I'd have given him his $5 and taken the 8-quart sauce pan to Goodwill in the morning. But there was something about these people and their audacity to rip me off & then return hours later demanding a refund. And I'm not a habitual yard sale goer myself, but do people REALLY think that I have a return policy??!!! Do people usually think they can return something they bought at a yard sale?! Does that happen?

Seriously. Never again. I far prefer the warm-fuzzies I get when I drop a bag-load of toys off at Goodwill to the alarm-going-off-at-5am-so-people-can-rummage-through-my-shit feeling I had last weekend. I'm grateful for the money we made; its going to help with the move & some of it will be going into my 3-Day Walk for the Cure fundraising, so in the end it was all worth it. But really. Never. Again.


Becca said...

People are SO CRAZY. We've gotten a lot of good stuff at yard sales, on the other hand. Karma challenged is right! $8 for a Crate and Barrel DUVET COVER is a STEAL!

Tara said...

We had a garage sale before we moved and it was zoo nt worth it. Should have just Craig Jared the bigger stuff and donated the rest. Never again for me too!

Sue said...

Our neighborhood does a twice a year yard sale. Someone buys an ad in the paper and they put signs up out on the highway and everyone puts their shit...errr...crap...err...valuable family heirlooms out in the driveways. I have never ONCE participated, yet twice a year, I get some redneck yayhoo with more tatoos than teeth come ring my doorbell to inquire if I've got anything for sale. They get the door (nicely) slammed in their face.

Nope. Not a garage-saler here! Never been to one and never plan to have or be involved in one.

Mama Bub said...

OH MAN. We once had a giant yard sale when my mom asked us to help clear our her storage units and people were AWFUL. Listen, if you're trying to bargain me down for my baby clothes, then maybe I can see a need, but when you're giving me a sob story over why you need these candle sconces for $2 instead of $5, it's hard for me to feel sorry for you! I had to walk away and leave the bargaining to my husband.

Honestly though, I can't believe the arrogance of that man! "You're helping us out!"

lonek8 said...

I seriously want to throttle someone over that story. let me tell you - the goal of a yard sale may not to get rich, but it IS to make money. if you just wanted to get rid of your stuff you would have just taken it all down to Goodwill in the first place and saved yourself the hassle.

I do not bargain. If I'm at a yard sale and something is marked with a price, I pay it. And likewise, if I've listed something at a certain price, that is what I expect to get for it. I will actually go UP in price, if people try to haggle me down- I'd rather give it away free than give some jackhole the satisfaction of saving another $2 on something that is already saving them 90% retail. Ridiculous. A few months ago we were selling a ceiling fan on Craigslist (my husband handles this stuff thank god - clearly i'd be a nightmare). We were asking $125 for a $300 fan, and this guy kept trying to get us to lower the price, telling us he could get a new one on Ebay for $200. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's still more, no? weirdest logic I've ever heard - he won't pay us a cent over $100, but he'll buy one on Ebay for twice that amount? plus shipping? whatever you've got to do dude.

Okay, I've got to go find someway to burn off all of my displaced anger over tacky, jackhole bargain seekers. now you know why (beside abject laziness) I will NEVER hold a yardsale! I'd probably end up arrested for assault

Brandi said...

Just another reason for us to NOT have a yard sale. My 5 yr old son went through some of his toys and wanted to have a yard sale. He was so excited! Instead, my husband gave him $20. I donated the toys to Goodwill and my friend's in-home daycare.

Sarah said...

Oh my god that's INSANE. INSANE. I am not a yard sale shopper, so I have no idea of etiquette, but I do want to HAVE a yard sale next summer. Or I did....

an octopus: said...

OMG we had a Mrs. Thievy-McStealerson, too. She played the me-helping-her-out card, too. Even tried the "This is for orphans in Africa" line. Right - the dress (mine), and R-rated DVDs, too?? She was awful and I stood my ground - yelling like a crazy pregnant lady while other "shoppers" stared in disbelief - and she left cursing me (but carrying all her loot she got for waaaaay less than she should have). Other than that one incident, though, our sale was awesome - we can't wait to do it again!!

Anonymous said...

Seriously?! Husband wants to have a garage sale and I just don't want to hassle with it, after reading this we are definitely not having a garage sale.

I am pissed with the jackH* that ripped you off !! WTF?

cicadalady said...

OMG, it is so true about the yard sale crazies. If it wouldn't have been too weird, I would've snapped photos of some of the people who came to ours. It's like a whole subculture.