Thread Number: 8873
Yard Sale Treasure but Seller Blinded by Delusion
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Post# 98386   5/15/2010 at 18:37 (3,673 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

I went to visit a friend today who lives in a nice, quiet, residential single-family-home neighborhood. Saturdays and Sundays are yard sale bonanzas on his street; people have actually made a big business of it because the street, although residential, is fairly busy with traffic.

Going down the long block to his house, I saw no less than a dozen yard sales, some of them with quite a lot of nice things -- good furniture and antiques, lamps, art, small appliances, etc.

I always do a visual scan from the car as I drive by yard sales, but rarely get out lest I become tempted by a lot of crap I don't need! But I do at least do a spot-check for vacuum cleaners.

Driving up my friend's street, I came to a house on a corner where it appeared several families had congregated on one lawn. There was quite a lot of stuff out there. And right in front, under a table, was what appeared to be a really nice Lux XXX!

I thought to myself, "I need another XXX like I need a hole in the head." But then I got to thinking about hidden treasure...!

So I drove around the corner and parked. I walked up to the yard very nonchalantly of course, not heading straight for the Electrolux but meandering, not wanting to seem overly eager for it.

I needn't have wasted my time.

I gradually made my way over to it and gave it the once-over. It was the 1949 version and in really nice condition overall. It had a replacement LX-style cloth hose but with a yellow-plastic pistol grip handle. Never seen THAT before! There were two sets of wands and the floor and rug tool. It had the cord winder with the original Belden cord on it.

So of course I was interested in it, if for no other reason than to get the hose [I could easily fit it with the correct handle] and cord winder.

I feigned surprise and said, "Oh look at the funky OLD sweeper." A man came over and said, "Yep, it's an oldie but it works GRRRREAAAT!" [Making like Tony the Tiger-- spare me.]

I said, "What are you asking for it?"

He called over to his wife (presumably) and and said, "Liz, what are we asking for the old vack? Three hundred?"

[I hate it when people call them "vacks."]

Liz must have seen my chin hit my toenails... Doing some quick thinking about the fact that it was now 2:30 p.m. and the "vack" hadn't been sold, she said to hubby, "Didn't we agree on two hundred?"

Well, I can't lie -- I laughed out loud! I said, "That much for a sweeper that's that old?? Does it even work?" (knowing that it surely did, but still keeping my poker face).

The man said, "Oh Sure, here - I'll show you." He reeled out some of the cord and connected it to an extension cord leading from inside. He picked the machine up and pressed the button. Of course, it purred right up. He offered the front end to me so I could check the suction.

I dutifully patted the opening and then said, "Well it works okay, but it smells!" It -was- making that typical dusty XXX smell, but I would have to say, stronger than usual. The filter obviously hadn't been replaced in ages. (Maybe since its owner hid loot inside?!)

I took a step back and put my hands in my pockets, the appropriate "No Thanks" yard sale body language. I said, "I wouldn't mind having it, but that's way too much. I could get a brand new sweeper for less than that."

He said, "Well, what's it worth to you?"

I was losing interest truthfully, because I knew he and "Liz" would not entertain any kind of rational offer. I said, "Well let me see what I've got on me." I opened my wallet and thumbed through my stack of hundred dollar bills. (Don't I wish!!) I said, "Well, I've got thirty-five dollars on me, will you let it go for that?"

He looked at Liz who gave him vigorous nod NO, with a clear "He's got to be kidding us!" expression.

He said, "Sorry, no can do."

I started to walk away and said, "Well, I'll tell you what -- if at the end of the day you haven't sold it, and would rather get what I offered for it than nothing, give me a call." I wrote my number down and gave it to him.

I will be very surprised to hear from him, or, if he does call, he will probably want to dicker up to a hundred bucks or something. While it's fairly nice, it's not worth that much to me. Especially not now.......

But then again, what if it's full of Great-Grandma Perkins' hidden loot??!


Speaking of yard sales, I have had exactly ONE in my life, and will never have another one. Honestly, I don't know how people put up with all the morons and penny pinchers who show up (*ahem* - never mind!!)


Just a couple of examples:

I put a BIG sign out front the night before -- "YARD SALE SAT. 9a.m.-3p.m. NO EARLY BIRDS!"

Around 7:00 a.m. Arlee and I started bringing stuff out. One of us would "watch the treasures" while another went to the back to bring out another armload.

Well, the cruisers started trolling by. And wouldn't you know it! We had hardly begun bringing stuff out before people were getting out of their cars and practically pushing us out of the way to see what was on the lawn.

I said, nicely a couple of times, "Sorry, we're not open until 9. Please come back then." That deterred some of the people but not all of them. A couple of stretch-slack ladies kept pawing through our stuff even as we were bringing it out -- literally digging into boxes that Arlee was carrying from the back!

So I said again, not quite so nicely, "Ex-cuuuuuse me laaaaaa-dies, you will have to come back later. We are not ready to start selling yet."

One of them glared at me and said, "Well you don't have to be such an ASSS-hole about it!" She harrumphed to her friend, "Come on Thelma, let's go -- it's all crap anyway!" and they stomped back to their car.


Okay, we opened for business at around 8:45. All the stuff was out by then, and it was a fruitless mission trying to keep people off of the yard. Let the Parade Begin.

I had a "Phone Mate" answering system that we used to use back in the days before Voicemail. As far as I knew, it still worked but I didn't feel like fooling with it. So I put a card on it, "Selling untested, as is -- $2.00."

Well, wouldn't you know, along comes a rocket scientist clomping all over the yard. He comes to the Phone Mate, snatches it up and bellows, "DOES THIS WORK?"

By then, I had already had a morning of it so I said, "NO IT DOES NOT."

He said "WELL WHY ARE YOU SELLING IT THEN?" He throws it back down and goes away (Thank God).


But here's the one who took the cake. Arlee had some various odds and ends of little dishes and what-not, most of them marked "25."

You guessed it, Thelma and her early-bird buddy came back, feigning not to recognize me, as if I would forget that they had been there earlier! They start picking through everything, then the lady gets to Arlee's dishes and stuff. She picks up one and exclaims, with a wrinkled brow and down-turned mouth, "A KWAAH-TAHH for THIS?? I'll give ya ten cents." She dropped it back on the table, just missing another plate and almost breaking it.

I went over and said, by now my patience thoroughly depleted, "Listen lady, if you can't afford a f@#$%^& quarter for the plate, you can have it! Take the #@$-@#$%&* thing!" I grabbed the plate and stuck it in her hand.

She looked at me through her beady little eyes and dropped the plate on the ground. "I don't want it now!" I stood right next to her and said, softly but forcefully, "Listen here lady, I had better not see you back here again, do you understand me....?!"

And so it went, all day long. Honestly, most of the people who stopped were driving both Arlee and me crazy!! To this day, Arlee and I still joke about the two ladies, using the line "A KWAAH-TAHH for THIS?? I'll give ya ten cents!" as often as we can.

So, as I have said, I have never had another yard sale! And never will!!

Post# 98406 , Reply# 1   5/16/2010 at 02:33 (3,672 days old) by gmerkt (Edmonds WA)        

Oh man, you speak the truth as I know it.

First of all, no matter whether it's vacuums, tools, old cars or whatever, there are always some nut-balls who think what they've got is worth a trip to the moon when it isn't. Who knows where they get their ideas, but I guess they are playing the game where they're hoping a rube or a "fish" will come along who doesn't know any better. And that probably works from time to time, too.

As to garage sales, they seem to attract the bottom feeders in my neighborhood. We had one years ago whereby one of my daughters wanted to clear out a bunch of stuff from earlier in her life and raise a little money. She had several pairs of shoes out, used but not very much. Some of them were priced at $2 a pair. I had a man come up to me and offer me a quarter for one pair. Well, he didn't want to buy them; he wanted to steal them legally.

You know, when you are selling used mdse. at a garage sale, swap meet or whatever, you can expect some haggling. What I don't tolerate is someone trying seriously for a reduction of 800 per cent on some item that is already very low in price. In this case, I removed the shoes from the sale and told the man they were no longer for sale. I'd rather give them to a charity than sell them to a chiseler. I'm just not that desparate to sell something for a quarter.

I'm not averse to haggling some, and in many countries it's an everyday way of life. However, there isn't any sense in my giving stuff away when I'm trying to make money by selling it. At that point, it's just a waste of time.

Some of the people going around to various garage sales are buying stuff for resale. This is especially so since the advent of Ebay. They have a real incentive to try to buy low as they are trying to make a profit on their finds.

Post# 98410 , Reply# 2   5/16/2010 at 06:44 (3,672 days old) by arh1953 ( River Park, in Port St. Lucie, Florida)        
I have a ton of things

arh1953's profile picture
to dispose of, I feel a little weird doing it, things belonging to my late freind Lana, furniture, a car, personal things, but I will NOT be doing yard sales. She tried it during an unsuccessful residence in Vero Beach for four months before coming back here. When she left Boynton Beach in '04, she got scalped, and of course the one element who haunts yard sales and thrift shops were there en masse.

Post# 98415 , Reply# 3   5/16/2010 at 08:54 (3,672 days old) by collector2 (Moose Jaw, Sk)        

collector2's profile picture
Hey Charlie:

I've had several yard sales. The simple way to deal with the early birds is to tell them "If they want first pick they have to put the stuff out on the tables for you" Gives me alot of extra hands to get things set up and the idea is to sell anyway so their money is as good as any other.

Also some people go to sales just for the thrill of bargaining. They dont really care if they get the item as long as they can dicker on it. Most are fairly reasonable but there is always the one who you would like to throw out bodily because they are so obnoxious.

As to the sellers that think they have goldmines. I tend to just walk away. They are in it as a business, not to get rid of extra junk, and arent worth dealing with.

Post# 98419 , Reply# 4   5/16/2010 at 11:25 (3,672 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

All good points, and let me say I don't mind the spirit of haggling and dickering if it's within reason -- e.g., offering $10 for a jacket marked $15, the seller counter-offers $13, the buyer counter-offers $12.00 ....... sold!

But when some creep comes up whining about a 25 plate, well, that's just about the limit for me. Ditto for those who can't - or won't - read "Untested -- Sold As Is."

I just could never go through that again.

(Although I will say, we raised over $700 ... spending it sure was fun! Maybe if I take a handful of valiums first.......!!)

Post# 98420 , Reply# 5   5/16/2010 at 12:02 (3,672 days old) by joe22 ()        

we have one yearly to clean out outgrown stuff, and general clutter. we set it up inside the garage and people try to open the doors before the start time(its locked)

a sign on the door did NO good as they will ring the bell asking to be let into the sale. now we give no clue there is a sale till we open the doors.

for some reason people asked us where the free coffee is, the sales i go to never have coffee, so. . .always wondered about that.

Post# 98422 , Reply# 6   5/16/2010 at 16:47 (3,672 days old) by electrolux~137 ()        

Never did hear back from "Liz" or her hubby. Just as well, since I really don't need the darn thing -- nor do I have the money to throw away on it. But it sure is hard to resist that old temptation when something kinda nice like this comes along.

Hope whoever got it will take care of it and enjoy it. It was pretty.

Post# 98464 , Reply# 7   5/17/2010 at 15:04 (3,671 days old) by hooverbaby (Dalton in Furness, UK)        
I don't blame you Charles!

hooverbaby's profile picture
Some years ago, whilst I was a student back in '91' I took a selection of vacuum cleaners, which I had refurbished, along to car boot sales (or Yard Sales, as you call them). I survived the first boot sale and managed to make a few pounds but realised that the mark-up I could expect was very small. Fortunately, at the time I had a good source of old machines albeit requiring attention but I had to put in considerable effort for not very much return.

On one occasion, a lady even brought back a machine, which I didn't sell her in the first place! I don't know if she was trying it on or whether she had confused me with somebody else!

Strangely enough, the items which seemed to do best also seemed to cost the least. I had a look round to see what I could put in to boost overall sales..and I hit on the idea of digging up a few carpetting plants out of the garden and splitting them - sold them!

My experiences in dealing with the public was mixed, both at the car boot sales and in the shop, when I had one...but I'd agree that there's some real chisellers out there!

It's true that a lot of folk go to these sales in order to pick up bargains for nothing from sellers having a perhaps Ebay is a better bet if you're intending to make a profit on items.

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