The People You Will Meet At Your Garage Sale

Garage Sale People (originally written in 2004)

What better way to meet the neighbors than to have a garage sale. Actually we called it a “yard sale”, and by neighbors I mean the cheapest freaks I’ve ever had the displeasure to meet. To be honest, the immediate people to the left and right of our house are quite nice, and they came by to wish us luck and shoot the shit for a little while. Most of the people you will attract to a garage or yard sale aren’t actually your neighbors, but seemingly professionals from outside “your” area. They are professional at being cheap bastards, and quite a bizarre lot.

On Friday night we spent a few hours preparing our goods (read old crap) for sale. We wanted to be very prepared because we had not efficiently readied our merchandise, advertising and signs advertising and signs for our previous attempt at a garage sale (1999)

We put an ad in the Penny Saver, we put up a few signs, went to the bank and got lots of ones and fives for making change. We priced everything very low. Relatively new videos and books – 25 cents to 1 dollar. Old, used crap, 10 to 50 cents. Nice pairs of jeans and shirts, 2 dollars. Etc. Everything was priced to GO!

While preparing these items, we met the first of the “garage sale people”.

The Really Fucking EARLY BIRD

The Really Early Bird doesn’t just come a little early in the morning, she (or he) comes a full DAY early. By experience, she knows that you will be home, preparing in the evening before the sale, so she comes a knocking. This type of buyer is cheap, and discerning, but knows she is early. So, she doesn’t haggle. Her job in life is to get the first look through your old crap because she hasn’t bought anything new in 50 years. What might be a couple (10 – 20) years old to you, is freaking brand new to her. Don’t give in, she will continue to terrorize all garage sale proprietors a full day early unless she is stopped NOW!


These people wait in their cars, camped out to get their hooks on your goods as you are putting them out for sale. They know this is very busy time for you, so they use the cunning they learned as “Carney-folk” to out-whit items from your inventory. If your house or garage door is open while you are carting items to your sale area, they will meander in and start making outrageous offers for your furniture, pets, TVs, and computers. They obviously think that everything must have a price. Sorry, but a $3.00 offer for my new Lap Top ain’t gonna get much play here. To avoid these people, turn your sprinkler system on 30 minutes before your sale is to begin, and leave it on.

The Haggler

The haggler is usually a short, balding man. He will come in any number of versions, but out here, he is usually and older latino or really old white dude. He wants all of your electronic items, CDs, videogames, and other expensive trinkets, and he is NOT willing to pay for them. The haggler will be the first customer to really piss you off, because he will blatantly act as if the $2.00 you have priced the almost new CD player is and outrageous insult to the buying public. The haggler will collect up and arm or box load of your most expensive items and then offer you $5.00 for the whole lot. The more you tell him “no” the angrier you seem to get. He will just act like he can’t hear you and keep repeating with outrageously low price. Keep a hose handy to spray him down if needed.

The Scammer

Watch what type of cars your customers drive up in. The scammer will usually drive up in an expensive car and then “only have $3.00” when it comes time to purchase. The scammer will sometimes come with his “mom”. Mom will be an old lady, dressed in an old country black garment. She will know very little English, but can somehow read enough to pick out the most expensive collectible item at your sale. She will be feeble, her hands will shake, and her little black purse will contain only a few old coins from a country that no longer exists. If you look closely though, her son will have brought her there in a brand new pickup, loaded down with an incredible amount of nice, new items that she has “purchased” with her old country collection of shells and ½ pence coins, and lint. Have the hose ready for these people – and put it on full blast.

Cheap neighbor
The cheap neighbor will show up late to your sale. It will be hot out and you will be dying to get rid of your items or suffer the long drag back inside or to the Goodwill drop off center. The cheap neighbor will feign disinterest early in the morning, but she will hit you up for cheap or free items right about noon. She must be stopped. Tell her that the neighborhood cat pissed on all of the items and that she would not want them. If the neighborhood cat DID piss on all of the items, then surely, it is best to let her have as many of them as she wants. In no cat pee is available, “accidentally” turn the sprinkler system on. It might ruin some of the items, but at least SHE won’t get them

Smart young people
Smart, young people, are the people that civilized garage sales were made for. They will come about 10 AM, pick out what they want quickly, pay you in relatively new cash (American bills, not shells and lint), very politely thank you, and then leave. They wont haggle, scam, or be cheap. They are as embarrassed to be at a garage sale as you are to be having one. I wish the world was made up of these patrons. Only one of these showed up, and god bless her, if she hadn’t brightened up my day I would a drug out the hose and hit them all full blast as the walked up to longingly ogle my once played copy of the 1999 Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Video.

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