Halloween is sometimes inspired by yard sales--especially this time of year as some of us start trying to decide how we or our kids are going to dress up for the festive occasion. Just a stop at one of our local halloween retailers is sometimes enough to scare us more than any witch or monster when we see some of the costs involved with putting together a decent costume. The fact that most of the costume buying crowd is usually making a purchase for one time use means that there are a slew of people out there who have still reasonbly like new costume that they probably won't wear again. For those who don't just throw them away, pack them away, or donate them to some charity this often means Yard Sale merchandise. Thus today's topic is tossing it out as in moving it out the door so it doesn't have to take up space that can be used for other valuable junk.
Today I had a Yard Sale. Rather I should say I participated in a Giant Community Multi-Family Yard Sale. Par for the course, we probably had 10 or so households participating out of a potential 113 households. This was less than we have usually have had, but even at that participation in our accumulated junk liquidation ventures is usually less than exciting. Nevertheless, partly in the spirit of community involvement, but mostly for the purpose of getting rid of crap (or "another man's treasure" as it is sometimes known), I try to be a part of the fun. So today I was up before dawn setting out tables and merchandise and then waited for the crush of bargain-hunters that were to come. Except they didn't--not many at least. By 11 AM I was packing everything after having sold about $25 worth of stuff -- worked out to less than minumum wage when I factor the time I put into it all. At least I filled my trashcan and recycle bin with trash that I decided I could part with-- finally tossing it out. And I did reorganize my garage so that now we can again fit one of our cars in it. What a concept! A car in the garage. The morning was not in vain.
So to what do I attribute the less than stellar outcome of our sale? Signage was adequate. The folks that scavenge the housecleaning of others by trolling the neighborhoods looking for yard sales found us easily by the signs. What we lacked was effective outside advertising. We had decided to save advertising expense and forego The PennySaver, where we had found a modicum of success in the past, and of course, at least in L.A., advertising in the classifieds of the newspaper is about as effective as attaching a message to a helium balloon and hoping that someone finds it and tells everybody they know. To save money we posted an announcement on Craigslist.
In the past few weeks preceding my yard sale I have been posting items to sell on Craigslists with a fairly good level of success. Craigslist is kind of like the world's biggest yard sale except that you don't have to stand outside with your stuff. You just put it on the site and if someone's interested you make arrangements to get together with them. Sure there is the creepy factor, but if you're careful I think you're okay. I have people come to my house to pick things up; I insist on cash payment; I don't let anybody come inside my house, but transact everything in my driveway out in the open; and I don't allow anyone to come after dark. I was a bit uneasy about dealing with strangers in this manner, but actually the people who have bought stuff from me have been pretty nice and just hand me what I've asked for something with no haggling.
Very much like a yard sale by appointment only. So advertising a Yard Sale on Craigslist is kind of like advertising a yard sale at someone else's yard sale. Maybe some readers have had some experience with posting your yard sales on Craigslist and found it to be effective. I'd love to hear your experiences with this and what you did that made it effective.
As I have been dealing with Craigslist, I have been looking at some of the postings and noticing that a lot of people are selling those old Halloween costumes that they have in their closets. And cheap when you compare them to store pricing. For example, there seem to be a lot of the sexy Leg Avenue costumes that you find in stores for $50 to $100 or more selling used for $5 to $50. I'm pretty sure that they are usually almost like new and if you go to buy you can check them out and you're not obgligated to take it if it's not to your liking. Likewise, I have noticed in many of the yard sale postings at this time of year people are advertising Halloween costumes. I know I've sold them in the past very cheaply and somebody got a heck of a deal. And didn't sell trash either. Those of you who are already committed thriftshoppers, Craigslist junkies, or yard sale buyers know the advantages of this kind of buying, especially for something as ephemeral as Halloween. And it's not just limited to traditional costumes either. Make your own costumes with some of the retro fashions, hats, cheap baubles, or other accessories that you can often find for virtually pennies. Don't throw away a fortune on a costume for one time use. These are tough times for many and this calls for drastic measures. And even if times aren't tough for you, I'm sure you can find some better ways to spend your hard earned dollars.
As always, if any of you have any experiences to relate, or suggestions, or debate to the contrary please toss it back. We'd love to hear from you.