Saturday, March 08, 2008

Question - Has Craigslist Ruined Garage Sales?

One of the things I love most about America is garage sales, or yard sales or even 'yarda' in deference to most of our customers this morning. I love the fact that you can make a huge pile of all your rubbish on your front lawn, post a sign on the nearest cross-street and watch your hard-earned stuff walk away for 25¢ a piece. I know the UK has jumble sales at the scout hut and drizzly car-boot sales on that field off the ring-road, but there's something heartwarmingly freeing about being able to host your own, on a whim, because you need to raise a few bucks for your upcoming trip to England.

OK, not actually our lawn, because being professional slum-lords we know that if we even let our tenants have a sniff at having a yard sale there'd be one every weekend and suddenly all our garden furniture, nicer shrubs and guttering will have walked. We are nothing but cheap, and not a little savvy so we 'borrow' our friends yard in a much nicer neighbourhood for the occasion and make them feed and babysit our child while we make money. Good times.

I love selling too. Napoleon called England 'a nation of shopkeepers' and Good Lord it must be in my blood because I'll admit I get a little frenzied when the hoards arrive to nose through my hand-me-downs and it's a good job it's not held at my house otherwise I'd be plundering every room for things to sell.

It's an education in the true value of 'stuff' though. You have to mentally let your crap go well before you hand it over to that shuffling bloke who's spent an implausibly long time looking at your cast-off sports bra. There is nothing as disheartening as watching someone walk off with that mirror you spent $150 on two years ago, that has now a market value of $8 (and only $8 because you originally said $20 then they frowned, and you thought, crikey, I need the money, and then they didn't have a $10 they only had $8 and would you consider that?). Sheesh.

However, if you think about it in terms of people paying you to take away your rubbish then it's fine sport indeed. I would do it every month but even in America it's hard to accumulate crap that fast.

My question is though - have garage sales gone downhill? We don't go to as many as we once did, it used to be our regular Saturday morning pursuit, grab a coffee and a bagel and drive round the nice neighbourhoods hoping to pick up a $10 coffee table. Now LK works on Saturdays and the thought of buckling and unbuckling Anna into her car-seat so I can look for that one back issue of Hello magazine in a big pile of 'Watchtowers' leaves me cold.

Now that everyone uses Craigslist, no-one would even consider selling a nice couch, or an armoire that used to house a TV but no-thanks-we-now have-a-flat-screen at a garage sale for $30 and a chance it might not sell when you can just post a photo online and wait for the customers to come to you. Don't you think? If we were ever to get a flatscreen (ha, oh ha ha ha) and needed to ditch our armoire I would never dream of hauling it out on to the street on a Saturday morning when I could get my full asking price from someone who will haul it out of my house themselves. Has anyone else noticed this or is it just Santa Barbara? Is anyone still getting amazing yard sale bargains?


Amy said...

You have raised a valid point here. I never realized it, but I think Craig List is in fact killing of the yard sales! I, however, would rather have a yard sale than sell small things on Craig's List. I usually have one every spring. I already have a bunch to unload. If you're in he neighborhood, drop by! lol

Hope you have great weekend.

American Mum said...

Yard sales. sniff! :(

Hyphen Mama said...

I've thought the same thing. We've posted a washing machine and misc bigger items on craigslist, but we also had a huge yard sale last summer and sold bags upon bags of baby clothes, toys and smaller items. I guess I save the bigger stuff that I refuse to give away for $5 and sell it on craigslist instead. But I, too, get the rush of cash changing hands quickly as I sell 17 candle holders for 25 cents. Then I run inside the house to get more stuff that I really didn't need anyway.

Thanks for stopping by my place. Hope to see you again!

Sarah D said...

...and I've followed you right back over here :) thanks for the comment on my blog!

Oh you've stirred the desire now! Yard Sale... how I miss you.

ExpatKat said...

Yard sales still seem to be going strong up here. Craigslist has snagged the bigger, better stuff I think, but there are still a few bargains to be had!

nancy305 said...

Oh my - when Jennifer lived in Ky there was never any need for me to have a yard sale - I just gave her all my stuff or she took it. Fluffy

AliBlahBlah said...

Fluffy - well that would explain how Jen has so much fantastic stuff (most of her garage sale profits came from me buying her stuff from her!!!!).

LolaBloom said...

Thanks for the comment, came back over here and have been reading up and giggling away. Loved this post, I have to agree that the Craigslist era has hurt the good old yard/garage sale.

I love them and can't wait to have a couple this summer. Craigslist is nice for things that you don't want to part with for pennies on the dollar.

I'm actually a big fan of flea markets, just wish we had some around here, the Bay Area is the BEST for them.

Anonymous said...

Too funny - we just last week sold the huge armoire due to the flat screen purchase. And yes, we sold it through craigslist. And the nice man who bought it didn't argue with my price, and he didn't scratch my floors. Can't beat that with a stick. I hate yard sales any way.