By now, my spouse and I have participated in more than a dozen neighborhood yard sales. Tempted by the possibilities of amassing a small fortune AND creating space in our basement, garage, and closets, we’ve hauled all matter of objects from the house to the driveway, only to haul most of it back at the end of the day.  I might fuss about all the work it takes to have a semi-successful sale, but I always relent and jump into the spirit of the event.

Yard sale sign

Having had a yard sale two weeks ago, I thought I’d be presumptuous and share some tidbits of wisdom I’ve gleaned from these experiences.

First, determine your goals. If you want to decrease the amount of stuff you own, go for it. You’re not going to use that old wooden tennis racket with the screwed on racket press, are you? If your goal is to earn a lot of cash, forget it. Smack yourself in the face and get a grip on reality.

If you and/or your spouse are pack rats, buckle up. If you’re polar opposites when it comes to accumulating things, buckle up twice. While being different from each other in this regard provides a healthy balance in your relationship, the chasm that exists between you and your love complicates the positions you’ll take when you try to decide exactly which masterpieces of your well-used, partially non-functioning bits of house ware you need to offer to the early morning vultures…uh, bargain hunters who will sweep down the length of your driveway the second you open the garage door.

When you negotiate the sales worthiness of this and that, watch out for (or prepare to launch) the BIG DEAL BREAKER: “That (insert object) belonged to my mother. I remember all the times I watched her wear/use/polish it.” Contort your facial features to to their most  forlorn expression, and you’ve won. Just don’t overdo this strategy or you might find yourself responsible for paying a monthly rental fee for one of those small walk-in cages at your closest mega-storage facilities. You know what I’m describing. Those places that remind you of your old college dorm room, or of the perfect setting for a grisly murder. (Can you tell I’ve watched one too many of those British D.C.I. so-and-so vs. psychotic killers series?)

In the run up to the day of your sale disregard the Weather Channel’s chart, especially if there’s a huge sun beaming next to “Saturday.” It’s fake news! Gather as many old umbrellas as you can find. Look in the trunk of your car. Search every closet. Check out the old bucket in the garage. And yes, include the umbrellas that have several ribs poking through the material, similar to the weaponized tires on James Bond’s Aston Martin DB-5 Special.

Wake up very early the day of your yard sale. Get dressed (casual attire…wait til you see some of your shoppers,) and grab a mug of coffee, but only if you’ve remembered to put coffee into the appliance’s brewing basket.

Remember that shoppers who know what they’re doing make a beeline toward anything made of metal or glass. If you notice said shopper turning a piece of jewelry or a glass object upside down and then squinting at some faded image, watch the shopper’s face. Do you see a lip twitching or an eyebrow arched toward his/her hairline? If you’re at all telepathic, you’ll hear the shopper’s inside voice intone, “Offer a dirt cheap price. She probably doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing letting this go.” And if you use your imagination, you’ll hear the familiar voice of that boxing match announcer as he bellows, “Get ready to bargain!”

And now, some observations and questions:

No one values your possessions as highly as you value them.

Your opinion of your car’s value



OLD model car
Your car’s value in the eyes of others







No one needs computer desks with those handy pull-out shelves that hold your keyboard and printer, especially if it’s an IKEA product and the pull-out shelves fly off the desk without notice.

Salad spinners are passé. Obviously, people prefer to eat wet lettuce.

Is there no one who still bakes pop-overs and needs that special baking pan?

Why did I try to sell the weatherproof car mats I used briefly when I owned a Juke? Nissan has taken that car out of production.

Relax a bit and chat with the shoppers. You never know whom you’ll meet. Two Saturdays ago we spoke with a Vietnam War veteran. Listening to his descriptions of his wartime experiences seemed so timely, as we’d been watching Ken Burns’ series, “The Vietnam War,” during the past week. This guy held us spellbound until he switched gears and said how much he reviled the NFL players who continue taking a knee while the National Anthem is played. Perhaps he read my mind when he saw my eyes narrow and my forehead take on the deep lines of consternation. It was time for him to move along. Later that day I reminded myself to keep a space in my head and heart to accommodate different points of view. After all, I’d never toted a sixty pound backpack and an M-16 while clearing a path through a Vietnamese jungle.

For goodness sake, phone a local charity and schedule a pick-up of all your usable unsold treasures. Do this prior to your yard sale. It beats dragging all that stuff back to the basement, or worse, gritting your teeth when you hear your spouse say, “Know what? We can use that (insert object) in the (insert room.)”

[In my September blog, I wrote about a project I’m doing with Lee Lynch, OUR HAPPY HOURS, LGBT VOICES FROM THE GAY BARS. In order to produce the best quality book possible, we changed our official publication date to November 1, 2017.]

Renée Bess is the author of LEAVE OF ABSENCE; BREAKING JAIE; RE:BUILDING SASHA; THE BUTTERFLY MOMENTS; and THE RULES, all published by Regal Crest Enterprises. Her next project (see above) is an anthology of short fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. Renée and noted author Lee Lynch are the book’s co-story collectors.



  1. Bwahahahaha! I’d love to meet you at a Yard Sale, but alas I’m in Australia. I do genuinely need one of those lettuce spinners though, how can they go out of fashion??

    We have our own fiasco going on over here in our politics & the news, but not quite as bad as yours…


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