Last Saturday a couple of friends and I had a garage sale. I came away from the experience learning two things:
- I’m not cut out to work with the public.
- Unless it’s signed by Picasso, you’re stuff ain’t worth shit.
I’ve been trying to purge my things for a couple of years now. The project has taken on more urgency ever since I came to the conclusion that my starter studio apartment will likely be my retirement property unless there’s a drastic correction in the Vancouver real estate market.
Friends have always admired my taste in objet d’art. Thanks to a series of boring jobs in the early Naughts, I had plenty of time to scour eBay for weird antiquities at great prices with the idea they would be worth something some day.
Word of advice: if you are ever bidding on an eBay auction with the intention of making money in the future like it’s an RSP, don’t (unless you own an antiques shop).
My intention going into the sale was to try and get rid of as much of the “good” stuff without having to bring it back to my apartment or donating it. I’ve had mixed results with eBay in the past; it’s definitely not what it used to be. More often than not, I’ve lost money on listing fees for auctions that didn’t sell; the ones that did, didn’t seem worth the money after eBay and PayPal took their cut.
I’ve had better luck with Craigslist, but items don’t move as quickly. Half the time selling your shit on Craiglist feels more like online dating; you’re constantly playing tag trying to connect with the person, then you never know who is going to show up at your door and when they do, they’re judging you.
The funny thing about advertising a garage sale on Craigslist is that you are bombarded with emails about what you’re selling and for how much. I’ve been trying to get rid of a bunch of Superman statues for years now and never had so much as a bite. Then I post pictures of them in my garage sale listing and every nerd comes out of the woodwork. It’s like, “Where were you people a year ago?”
After a while I just stopped replying to the emails. People were asking really specific questions about what was for sale despite the detailed list of items in the ad. While I can appreciate there is a market for vintage video games, if I were selling them, I would have listed them along with the DVDs, Vinyl, and CDs. At a certain point you just want to tell people, “It’s a garage sale, not Target.”
Despite my bitching, I actually took in a pretty good haul. Like I said, I had some pretty cool stuff to sell. But it was a lot of work.
I was selling shit at bargain prices. I sold an R2D2 action figure for a $1. It wasn’t in great shape, and it wasn’t from the original film, but nonetheless a $1 for a Star Wars action figure is a great price, and still the asshole dad that bought it asked me if I would take 50 cents for it with his kid standing right there. I wanted to say, “Are you telling me you’re kid isn’t worth a fucking Loonie?” I didn’t budge on the price (because I didn’t have quarters) and then that fucker paid me in nickels and dimes.
There was another guy who mulled over 2010 Olympic Cowichan sweater that was in near mint condition that I was selling for $10. TEN DOLLARS! But he wanted to wait for a second opinion because the sweater was made in China. Dude, the reason it’s $10 is because it’s made in China along with everything else you buy at Hudson Bay; not only that, you would never find that sweater in a second hand store or on eBay for that price. He ended up buying it.
What kills me about that sweater though is that this mom and her awkward teenage son tried it on earlier and he looked amazing in it. Then she put this buffalo plaid Vancouver Canucks cap on his head and it transformed this kid. I said I would throw in the hat for free if he bought the sweater, but for whatever reason, he wasn’t into it—probably because his mother loved how it looked on him. He ended up buying a DVD instead. Kids these days.
My one regret about the day was that I didn’t flirt more. There were some really hot guys who bought shit I would have never thought I would sell, like my glow in the dark Madonna (the mother of Jesus, not the queen of pop). Had I more guts I would leered more and worked out a “deal” but that’s what comes from being a shy guy.
By the end of the sale I was so sick of answering mundane questions about my shit, I was ready to push people out of my way on the walk home. The straw that broke the camel’s back was this guy who was hanging out with his friends on the porch a couple doors down from my building.
“Hey!” he shouted at me like I was hooker. “What’s in your suitcase?”
I was so close to yelling back, “What are you? The fucking porch police?” Instead, I blew him off and said, “Stuff.” If you ask me I was being too polite.