Monday, August 22, 2011

Buying and Selling

Quick update on Friday's post - looks like M. and I will be replacing our HVAC system. Doing nothing is an option - we won't all die in our beds one night. But it's an option that will probably leave us without heat or A/C at some point in the next several months, and then we'd be looking at an emergency replacement job. Fixing the bad part(s) isn't a good solution, because it would still be fairly expensive and wouldn't necessarily buy us any more time before other parts of the system start going bad. So now we just need to decide which company/quote to go with.

I am (mostly) resigned to giving up on hardwood floors for now. But still moving forward with my plans to reclaim the living and dining room from the kids. M. and I have already started cleaning out closets and reorganizing, and we are amassing a pretty considerable "do not keep" pile. Some of it is clearly headed to the dump, but for the rest we are thinking about holding a yard sale. A prospect that makes me nervous, exhausted, and excited all at the same time. Excited because we might earn a little bit of cash that will help finance our new dining room furniture. Exhausted and nervous because I think it will be a lot of work, and it's entirely possible we won't sell much of anything. But the thought of donating everything for a tiny tax write off doesn't sit well, and the mere idea of posting all the minute details on Craig's list and setting up bagillions of appointments for people to come by and look at one or two things just makes my head hurt and my eyes want to cross.

So, yard sale. I've never held one before, and frankly, I hardly ever even GO to them. We have a tiny front yard and lots of neighbors. Does not make for an ideal situation. I plan to let the neighbors know about the sale ahead of time out of courtesy, and maybe some of them will want to join in with us. But I hate talking to people I don't know very well, so those conversations are dreaded and will surely be awkward. Maybe I can make M. have them.

What are your tips? Have any of you held a yard sale without actually having a substantial yard? Any creative tips on displaying merchandise? We were thinking of having the sale on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend - is this a bad idea? What things have you had good luck selling, and what things never move/should just go straight to Goodwill? How did you entertain your kids during the sale (pretend your kids are 2 and almost 5)? Did they participate in any way (have their own table of toys and/or food/lemonade they were in charge of selling, for example)? How did you advertise your sale? I'm inquiring with the county to see if we need any permits to stick up little signs on the road or to hold the sale. I'm hoping we do not, as that would cut in to any profits we might make.

And one more set of questions, unrelated to the yard sale as it pertains to items I don't think we'd be able to sell. What have you done with old textbooks? More specifically, science textbooks, several of which are probably fairly out of date now (a problem with studying a field that is constantly advancing/changing). Can they be donated somewhere? Is there anyone who might actually need them? Or is recycling our best bet? I need to rally my solutions and arguments, because my hoarding husband is reluctant to let these textbooks go even though we NEVER look at them, and have never looked at them since midway through grad school. And by the time Finn and Lucy get to high school biology they no longer be somewhat out of date, they will be REALLY out of date. Help me battle these pack rat tendencies, please!


  1. No idea on the yard sale.

    On the textbook part, have you tried listing them on We made a killing selling old textbooks on but that was 10 years ago! Anything that didn't sell was because there were too many editions since then.

  2. I've never had my own yard sale, but I've helped to put a big one together several years in a row in Durham. The best advice I can give you is to sort and display your things by category (e.g. housewares, holiday, women's clothing, etc.) a department store. Most yard sale-goers know what they're looking for; by sorting your things, folks will be able to find what they like right away!

    Oh, you also can make tables where everything is "$2" so you don't have to label everything.

    And...remember to have lots of cash on-hand for change.

    Good luck!!