Monday, September 29, 2008

The Yard Sale

Friday night, I went to the storage cage and filled my vehicle (small-sized SUV) full of crap.  A coffee table with a wobbly leg; a floor-to-ceiling cat tree; old sheets; some unused gifts (both received and never given); some crap I got off the internet in "mystery bag" purchases; some old suitcases; and a pile of candles.  (I have a cat.  Open flames are a no-no in my home.)  Also a box full of "possibly Victorian stuff I bought off eBay that could conceivably be worth something."

Saturday morning, bright and early, I head off to my friend's house for the yard sale.  Set up everything on the yard.  (The coffee table was useful for this.)  She had way more stuff than I had.  (Also, her parents drove by and donated substantially more stuff to the cause.)

Didn't take long for our first customer to show up.  She asked how much for a backpack.  This was a brand new backpack, never worn by a human back.  I thought I should at least get $3 for it, so I said $5, anticipating a haggle.  She says "Too expensive" and clicks her tongue at me for my greedy, greedy ways.  She turns to my friend and asks how much for a sweater.  My friend says "fifty cents."  She walks off with two sweaters. 

I change my strategy -- this isn't the Possibly Victorian Stuff That Might Be Worth Something crowd.  I slide that box out of view.  (Actually, my friend's mother turns out to be interested in it, and I'll probably end up selling her the lot.)

I eventually unload the backpack for $2.  I get $5 for an old carry-on bag, and (in what was clearly my best sale of the day) $10 for the cat tree.  I am thrilled that I don't have to take that back to storage.  Once I turn my corner of the world into my very own "dollar store," things fly off the coffee table -- all of the candles go (some for even two dollars), and some of the unwanted "mystery bag" stuff goes, too. 

A couple hours in and, now that I've had some yard sale experience, I decide to go get more crap -- now that I know how this thing works.  I debate between going home and going to the storage cage, and ultimately choose home.  I come back to the sale with several tote bags stuffed with more "mystery bag" stuff, earrings that scream "1980s," and a few other random small items.

The earrings are a big hit, and I sell three pair immediately.

We eventually packed up around 2:00 p.m.  I'd taken in about $50; my friend about $130.  We decide to try again the next day -- and she's got more friends coming (who will take up another spot on the lawn) -- a few more and we'll be a "swap meet" rather than a yard sale!

Saturday night I go to the storage cage and bring back three bags full of clothes.  I go through all the pockets, then sort the clothes into bags by price (50 cents, $1, and $2).  (I also make big signs announcing the prices, but everyone will ask me the prices anyway.)

We start again bright and early on Sunday -- as most of our traffic was early on Saturday -- and we'd kind of forgotten about church.  So we got very few people until about 11:00, when folks were done praying for the morning.  We put up signs that said "New stuff!"

The "New stuff!" did, indeed, sell.  A lot of my clothes went (oddly, all of the $1 clothes -- only a few in each of the other prices); and the couple that joined the yard sale on Sunday unloaded about $100 worth of stuff (mostly duplicate wedding gifts, maternity stuff, and newborn stuff). 

When all was said and done, we'd each earned about $100 for our crap -- not bad for stuff we would otherwise donate to Goodwill or Out of the Closet or something (which is pretty much where the leftovers will end up anyway).

Between Saturday and Sunday, it sorta started to concern me as to "what to do with the money."  I mean, $50 is, like, what? a tank of gas?  And, y'know, this was stuff that was previously destined for charity donation, so spending it on me didn't seem really right either.

Sunday morning (while waiting around for customers) we were sitting around, talkin' politics (which was convenient as we're all supporting the same dude).  I pondered maybe donating the proceeds to the Obama campaign -- we even joked about putting up "Yard Sale for Obama" signs, but then we weren't really sure of the politics of our prospective buyers, and we didn't want to turn anyone off.  But I liked the idea, on principle.

The thing that nagged me, a bit, was that, y'know, Obama doesn't really need my hundred bucks.  (OK, yes, sure, I know, he does -- in the sense that his campaign is based in part on a ton of small contributions.)  But $100 isn't going to make a difference in this election -- and when I give money, I like to feel like it's making an impact.  (Which is why I often give to Donors Choose and Kiva.)

The solution to my donation problem manifested itself Sunday afternoon, when I was walking to a theatre and passed a "Vote No on Prop 8" sign.  Proposition 8 is a ballot initiative to, basically, overturn the California Supreme Court's decision legalizing gay marriage in California.  Polling has been close (actually, recent polling says the proposition will be defeated, but there's reason to believe people are lying to the pollsters so as not to appear prejudiced), and I'm thinking my contribution could actually help.  And the issue is important to me -- both because I don't want to see my gay friends' marriages declared invalid, and because I very much would like to live in a State that enshrines equality, rather than discrimination, in our Constitution. 

So, there you have it -- turns out I had a Yard Sale for Gay Marriage.

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