How to Withstand your Yard or Barn Sale


This past Fall Aussie-Magic Vintiques had its annual end of season sale.  I held it before Labor Day because the Sodus Bay cottagers were still around and, of course, more people means more sales.  I held it in conjunction with a huge yard sale in front of the barn and Ms. M. brought a lot of things to add to the yard collection.  We had a huge turnout with probably 1,000 people coming and it served very well in getting my business name passed around and in getting it on the map.  Of course my Mentor (Ms. M.) was there or I would have just closed up and run as far away as possible because it was the strangest sale that I have ever gone to (as Buyer OR Seller).   The first strange thing happened before the sale started.  We were out putting up tables, marking things, getting tarps ready in case it rained and generally just getting ready.  The signs were ready to be placed on the road intersections the next day and the advertisements had already hit all the papers and all the web sites to bring people from out of the county and locally.  As we were setting up,  a car drove in and asked if we were open yet.  Ms. M.  and I glanced at each other and decided “why not?” so they came in and started shopping.  Then another car drove in and we found out that the local paper had put the start date as that day!  So, I didn’t have time to get nervous and we just started to roll.  Ms. M.  took care of the outside sales while I covered the register and she was in and out as needed.  She works so hard that she puts me to shame!  I  did get  nervous the first few hours  when it was really busy and people were waiting for me to ring things up.  Unfortunately, when I get nervous I always make mistakes on change, etc.  After a while I start relaxing but the beginning was terrible.  So that day turned into:

Day #1:  That was also the day that a customer came in and purchased a few things (almost everything was on sale), we finished the transaction, she went back to her car and a few minutes later she came back in and stated that she never got her change.  Everyone that had been standing around the register remembered me giving it to her (it was only $12) but she insisted and since the ex-customer is always right, I gave it to her again.  Anyway, we made it through the pre-first day alive and healthy.  Ms. M. was bee-bopping around covering things outside and I was dragging around trying to do the same.

Day #2: Since this day was the official starting day which was advertised in everything but the local paper, this day was absolute insanity!  Ms. M. is close to all the Dealers and there were a lot of them there.  Of course she knew them all by name and would introduce them to me and I would remember the name while the introduction took place.  Since she knew most of these people she was at her best in showing them what they wanted to look at.  But, being Dealers, of course they wanted to deal and me, just learning, had marked the items for as low as I could go as it was.  It was very difficult because I don’t like to do it that way.  I like to say that this is the lowest that I will go and then have that final but they expect to get it lower because it’s all a game.  Someday I’ll be that way but not quite yet.  It was very, very cold and windy so that I wanted to keep the barn door closed a bit but couldn’t because I was supposed to be watching things outside and helping Ms M out.  So, amid this insanity a gentleman comes in and says “so, you didn’t sell your house”.  I said “no”.  He asked me my name again because he wanted to know who my sister and I were.  I said “my sister?” and he said “yes, your sister; the one who was helping you sell the house”.  I said that “no, my husband and I owned the house so that couldn’t be possible” and he said “oh yes! He had toured the house and it was definitely your sister and you”.  Since all non-customers are right, I agreed, smiled and pretended to go back to work wondering if I was going to make it through this day.

Day #3: It rained hard all day so we left the things outside covered.  If anyone wanted to see something Ms. M. would, of course, know where everything was exactly and would go uncover it.  So, sales were slow.  This was the day that someone stole my prized baby cup that was yellow and had puppies and chicks  around the border.  They did leave me the saucer.  The next day someone came in and purchased just the saucer.  Strange?  I don’t think so.  We closed early but I guess not early enough.

Day #4: It was cold and rainy with the same scenario as yesterday except the missing cup.  Instead, during one of the sunny times when we ran out and uncovered the things, a well-known volunteer firefighter lifted a garlic press.  A garlic press?  Why a garlic press?  Of course the indomitable Ms. M. witnessed this and strode over to him and said “J—, I can’t believe you just did that.  How would you like it if word got around about you stealing a garlic press?  I want you to put that right back where you got it and then you can pay for the rest of the things and leave”.  Well, J— turned purple, put back all of the things he was going to buy and practically ran to his truck and left.  Which reminds me, one time a truck stopped and two men got out and started looking at things.  Ms. M. was out the door in a flash and said  “Hello Mr. S., How are you doing today”.  When they looked up and saw it was Ms. M. they went back into their truck and left.  Obviously, Ms. M. had caught them at one time.  She did speak sternly to me one time and I’ll never get over it.  She can make one SCAREY face!  Note: This is the reason for the Dealers to hang around at the back of the auctions.  This way they can pass the word on things like who bounces checks and who is a thief, etc.

Day #5:  It was cold but not much rain.  I think we only had to put the tarps on once.  Things went very smoothly until the State Police came and told us that someone had reported that we were selling liquor without a license.  We let him search the premises, of course, and I told him that he could HAVE the cranberry juice I was drinking because I hated it but he declined, said it must have been a prank call, and left.  It may have been a little old lady vendetta but we won’t get into that today.

Day #6:  A truck pulled in and asked us if we were missing a dog.  In the truck was a blonde and white Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that seemed quite happy to be riding around with the gentleman.  Ms. M’s first thought was that the man was trying to dump off the dog but I didn’t care.  I didn’t want the dog to end up on some dead-end country lane and have a horrible death so I told him that no, we weren’t missing a dog but I would take him and keep him here during the sale and maybe someone would come and claim her.  She was the sweetest thing.  After drinking some water she settled down on one of the blankets we were selling.  After about an hour I decided to call the town Dog Catcher to see if someone had reported her as missing.  He said he would be over to pick her up.  He seemed like a good man and told me he would find a great home for her because she was so friendly and small.  Right after he left another car pulled in and asked if we had seen a dog.  I told him that the Dog Catcher had just taken her so he should call him.  Expecting to be thanked I was appalled  when he yelled at me for calling the dog catcher because the dog belonged to a friend of his and now he would have to pay for a license and get her shots!  So, since the non-customer is right I apologized.  Yeesh – people.

So that is the end of the saga of one strange yard/barn sale.  Is it luck or is it just me?  I have to say that my husband calls me Lucy Ricardo but I swear that this business is going to be a success!!!!

One thought on “How to Withstand your Yard or Barn Sale

  1. I loved reading about the various scenarios while simultaneously wondering about what makes people do some of the things they do. Throughout, I applaud your ability to take events in stride. Meanwhile, the ones who run afoul of honest actions will reap their consequences another day. Of that we can be certain and be at peace. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

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