Life Lessons from Yard Sales

‘Let’s have a yard sale,’ he said. ‘We’ll make a little money and get rid of some junk,’ he said. ‘It’ll be fun,’ he said. So we had a yard sale. Here is what he didn’t say:

Yard sales are work. We got up at 4 am…on a Saturday. Four o’clock…in the morning…on SATURDAY. After a quick breakfast I pulled my hair up into a ponytail (trust me, this is the proper hairstyle for yard sales, even if you’re over 50) and helped load the last of our stuff (treasures) in the pickup and headed to town.

My mother-in-law has a nice shaded yard on a corner lot just one block from the main street. Perfect for yard sales. We picked a good weekend; mild to hot weather, steady breeze, and the Ice Cream Festival was in full swing just blocks away.

Eric, my husband, had set up tables the night before so we had a bit of a head start. Boxes had to be unpacked, tchotchkes artfully arranged, clothes hung on our makeshift line, large items (sofa, bicycle, table, bookcase) set near to the street in a clever ‘buy me, you need me in your home’ arrangement.

We had a lot of stuff. Several family members had contributed items to sell. Unfortunately, none of them were available to help with the set up (or the more dreaded and much harder repacking afterwards). I’m sure they were bummed about that!

The ad we put in the local paper said the sale started at 7am which, of course, meant that our first customers arrived at 6:30.

You meet a lot of people at a yard sale. Our sale turned out to be quite the social event. Our Pastor and his wife brought some items to sell and joined us in patio chairs under the large shade tree. We visited, chatted with people who came to shop, ate pizza and generally had a great time.

Apparently yard sales are popular with the retirement crowd. There were gentlemen looking for tools, guns (we had four), beer cozies (we had none) and someone to swap stories with for a while. Senior ladies clothes shopping and excited by the large bags of yarn.

A young man in head to toe camo asked if we had a four-wheeler for sale. Do you see a four-wheeler?

I saw ladies in sun dresses and wedge sandals, serious bargain hunters in cross trainers and leggings, and moms with their kids (kids that sweep over the tables, touching everything, asking for everything). Sparkle hats, tatoos, baggy shorts. One man that regaled us with a fish story, unaware his pants were unzipped.

Old friends who sat and visited for a while. A couple that caught us up on their family and major life events-“Who was that?” we asked each other when they left. People on their way to work, the lake, the grocery store; poor folks, and well-to-do, everyone is welcome at a yard sale.

There are some valuable life lessons to be learned from a yard sale.

  1. One man’s trash really can be another man’s treasure…if the price is right.
  2. Everyone likes to have someone listen to them.
  3. Sometimes, just smiling and saying, ‘Good morning’ turns a stranger into a friend.
  4. NEVER wet your thumb with your tongue when counting money (trust me on this one)
  5. If you are with people you love, even a yard sale can be a party.


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