Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tag sale de-briefing

We had a front yard full of items, but sold few of them. We now have a truck full of items, scheduled for a trip to the dump tomorrow morning. Here's why I think the sale was of limited success:

  • Limited advertising. Although there was talk of putting an ad in a paper, nobody did this. We did have signs on the corners of busier streets, though.

  • Limited appeal. I don't know, I'm not a big tag sale shopper. But my guess is that people go to these things looking for rare/old/valuable items, working/useful items, or good deals on furniture. We had no furniture for sale. Only about 1/3 of our goods had any utility, and these were dishes, appliances from the 70's, and candles (which all melted by the end of the day). I'm surprised more cookbooks didn't go. The rest was knick-knacks, items that were made and purchased specifically for how they look on a shelf. Things that are only useful for collecting dust.

  • Inappropriate pricing. The day started with pricing the collectible dolls (which consumed an entire large table) at $25-$30 each. While this may be appropriate for new/antique dolls being sold to a dealer/collector, I don't think this was a reasonable price for a tag sale. Other items were tagged with dollar amounts, and untagged items were quoted at unreasonably high prices, without an attempt to negotiate. I know at least one person walked away unable to make a deal. But this did improve as the day went by.

  • Weather. Aside from the dolls, the largest set of items was Christmas decorations. It was hot enough to melt candles. Nobody was looking for second-hand Christmas decorations.

Now, we must evaluate the success of the sale in terms of the stated goals. There were two goals today:

  1. Exchange goods that were once (and may still be) beloved for money. The sale took in about $130, which will be of use to the seller, but which is not worth all the work by the five of us who did all the work. (We probably would have happily given away $25 each in lieu of the sale.) The marginal success had an unexpected but obvious result: the collision of hopes and expectations (finding people who value your treasures as much as you do) with reality (nobody wants your crap) takes an emotional toll. There was a lot of disappointment, and pretending that the unsold items are headed to Goodwill, instead of the dump. (The dolls will be taken to a doll dealer.)

  2. Clear out four rooms. (One of these is a basement room that had been full.) This goal was achieved. Mostly. Everything that went out stayed out except the dolls and a few choice items. A few personal/family items remain, along with some furniture to be restored. After a good cleaning and a little organization, the areas will be ready for remodel (refinishing floors, painting walls, small repairs, etc.).

I'm excited to have made progress.

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