Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Garage Sales

I love garage sales - whether I'm having it or I'm shopping at them. This past weekend, we had our community garage sale. I love garage sales.

First, I love garage sales because I want to participate and don't want to do so with only 10 items, so garage sales force me to go through things and get rid of what I don't use or want or need. There have been many things in my life that we have bought, expecting them to be great or to get regular use, only to find out that we don't like them or simply don't use them or after time we replace them with the latest and greatest. Now, with kids, there is a lot of things that we grow out of - clothes, shoes, toys. Throughout the year, I keep a bin in basement to gather garage sale items. As we clean closets and such, I make piles of trash, donate or garage sale. Plus, a few weeks before the big sale, we usually try to go through rooms and clear out the excess.

Second, I love that not only is someone finding something that they can use and hopefully, they see as a good value, but I can "make" money. In reality, I paid (or someone did at least) a lot more for an item than I can resell it at used, but when you sell a number of things at even 50cents or $1, it can add up quickly. This extra cash is a nice little perk. This year, since the kids cleaned out some extra toys this year, we gave them each a little bit of money from the sale to add to their piggy banks. They were excited to make some money and we achieved the goal of removing some clutter from their rooms, closets and toy boxes. We will use part of our money for a dinner out with friends - a chance to splurge without impacting a real budget and the rest will go to our savings account.

Third, I like knowing that whatever I don't sell, most of it will be donated. This helps me as a tax deduction, helps those in need by providing them products available at a thrift shop at a reasonable cost and it helps the community, as the groups like Salvation Army and Goodwill provide services to the community in part through the income at the thrift store.

Fourth, I love to shop at garage sales. When you find quality product, it can be a very frugal way to pick up items that you need or want - who doesn't like getting something at a fraction of retail? I don't necessarily buy a lot at garage sales, but I have found some really good deals at garage sales. You just have to watch - I went to one sale this year and everything my daughter wanted (like Hello Kitty pajamas) had stains on it. I told her we didn't want that outfit and guy having the sale overheard me and replied, "my daughter is a little messy and a lot of stuff is stained". Ummm, well I wanted to ask, "what makes you think that people are shopping for the stained stuff". When my children were babies, I found many simple things like sleepers, outfits and toys that I could pick up for a good price. As they have gotten older, I find less clothing and tend to get more books and games, but I have bought my daughter many dresses over the years, including some very fancy ones, for less than $2. This year, at the community sale, shopping together we spent $6. We bought Bingo, Mousetrap, 4 books, 1 dress, 1 pair of shorts and 1 shirt. Actually, in total we spent $7. My son went off and did some shopping on his own - which later turned into a great lesson about buyer's remorse and why to not making hasty purchase decisions. He had bought a folder and a book from a sale for $1. The book, he gave to his sister, which I found very generous. The folder, he was disappointed to learn when he got home that it was "dirty" on the inside - as it likely had housed papers that were completed with pencil, leaving a haze of graphite on the inside. I explained to him that he should have checked out the items he was purchasing in full, before purchasing - you can't make a return to a garage sale. I also explained, that had he asked, I would have let him know that he could have gotten a similar folder new for about the same cost, especially with upcoming back to school deals. In the grand scheme, the 50 cents that he spent on the folder is not a big deal, but to him it was huge.

I must vent a little though, about something I found and don't love. So, one of the houses that I stopped at in the neighborhood was selling a lot of razors, feminine care products, and more. It seemed clear to me that she had done well shopping the various drug stores and was now selling those products. Sure, she was selling them for less than someone could walk into a store and purchase them for so it was still a garage sale deal, find or gem, but there are many things about this that bother me. First, buy what you need, not what you can get. Sure, build a stockpile, buy for friends, buy for donation, but to buy it with the intent to resell it to make money on it - just doesn't feel right (selling it at a church or charity benefit - still not sure that feels right, but perhaps at least less wrong). Another thing that frustrates me is that it seems likely, given the quantities, that there was a chance that she was using more than one card. I say this because some of the items are "new" and there haven't been enough deal cycles to have the quantities that she did. It bothers me that people that abuse the system can make it harder for others to take advantage of deals (how often do you go to find the shelves bare) and really, neither the store nor the manufacturer is looking for someone to buy out the store, at or near free, and then turn around and sell the product to someone else. It's not a good business model. Sure, you can argue that someone else would have bought it if she had left it on shelf, but reselling it also removes a future consumer from the mix for a purchase cycle, as they already bought it outside the store. Am I missing something? Does this feel okay to others and I am unjustified in my feelings? Thanks for letting me vent.

Having garage sales to clear out items that we no longer use, need or want and shopping at garage sales to find good deals on things we will use, need or want - works for me.

This post shared at Works for Me Wednesday and Frugal Friday.


Anonymous said...

The new feminine care products you found at the garage sale I see for sale all the time in flea markets. I don't know where people buy this stuff, but it's annoying to me and I never buy from these dealers.

Amy said...

As an avid couponer I can see your frustration. Sure we can get them cheap or even free, but I agree with you, give them away.

NeedANap2 said...

I don't know which products you're talking about (you didn't mention brands). But I know the U by Kotex has been on sale at every store and multiple coupons released. At Walgreens, you would get a Catalina for free Always when you bought it. So it's pretty easy to stock up on multiple products at one time. It's possible too that several friends went together and are splitting the proceeds.

I don't have an issue with selling your good deals at a garage sale (Money Saving Mom even recommends it). However, I don't believe in emptying the shelves every time you shop! I usually find myself shopping on Sat so I can't empty the shelves b/c they already are. You often get rainchecks and use those so I'm not sure you could complain much about empty shelves (I mean that in the nicest way, most people don't bother w/ rainchecks ever).

My friend and I had a garage sale, I sold some toothpaste, razors, but mostly the "Glade"-type smelly things sold the best. One man tried to haggle me down on the price of the razor and I went down a little but not as much as he wanted so he left (you could view it as his loss or mine).

I'd rather someone be selling at a garage sale at a decent price than way overpriced on ebay. :) Interesting topic, will be looking to see what others say.

Jennifer said...

If she bought the stuff (even if she paid .50 each) let her sell them and not worry about it!!! She must have did something that made you mad before hand because it seems like your very concerned with how, when and where she bought or got these items!!! Maybe she got them as gifts??? Maybe she's been saving them for a long time (years perhaps)??? Maybe she has hairy legs and her frinds are giving them to her to try to hint it??? Who cares...Well, I really don't let petty stuff like this bother me!!!

Jennifer said...

Opps...My boss walked don't let stuff like this bother me..I have lots of other BIG things going on in my life right now...But Im not gonna say your wrong for feeling the way you do! "Different strokes for different folks"!!! I think that can be a quote for this situation!

Anonymous said...

I thought the same thing as you before too.. but then if you think about it, this person went through the trouble of having to take the time out to purchase and re-sell the item.

What if it was their only means of an income now and therefore they dont have have the luxury of giving things away for free?

I do agree with you that it is wrong to abuse the system hence making difficult for other shoppers.

Amy said...

I'm with you! It drives me crazy when people use more than one shopper card or whatever to get multiples of the best deals, leaving the shelves empty for the rest of us. I have pretty much stopped trying to get the Walgreen's sale items because they are always sold out by Monday morning, which is ridiculous. I always figure that if we don't play nice... aka: use coupons/ deals as they are meant to be, for one family... then eventually the manufacturers will stop having the really great deals. A few greedy people will spoil it for all of us.

My WFMW post today is about how I make my online time pay off in terms of happy snail mail.  :)

El Bilson said...

Garage sales are a great way to get rid of that stuff that just seems to linger...