Tess Vigeland: What’s more frugal than a yard sale? Now that summer’s upon us, you might be tempted to turn your junk into easy money. But commentator Kristina Wong warns us, it’s not that simple.
Kristina Wong: Perhaps you’ve seen shows like “Storage Wars” where smack-talking working-class guys buy up abandoned storage units and unearth junk that’s supposedly worth thousands of dollars. It’s enough to get penny-pinching Americans thinking, “Wow! I’m going to get rich having a yard sale!”
But before you start scanning the weather for that perfect window of sunny days, indulge me in a little bit of cost-benefit analysis.
Sure, a weekend of lounging in your carport, sitting on a busted lawn chair, looking quaintly ironic in that cheap giveaway visor you pulled straight from your sale, stuffing a fanny pack with one dollar bills sounds romantic. But placing ads, hammering up signs, hauling crap out to the yard and - let’s face it — packing it back up again is at least a half day’s work. Take into account having to divide your profits among the family and friends who help man your sale, and you’ll probably fare better if everyone worked a day flipping burgers.
And there aren’t a lot of statistics on rummage sale related heat-strokes, but believe me, yard sales are a silent killer. Dehydrated in the sun since 5 a.m., haggling over a nickel for a threadbare Sham-Wow? No fun. Then there’s the whole matter of throwing out your back dragging that Ikea bookshelf down three flights of stairs only to witness it disintegrate before your eyes.
And I can’t tell you how many families I’ve seen torn apart during a yard sale because a beloved Hungry Hippo game was accidentally sold off for a quarter. And is that extra cash worth the humiliation of letting your neighbors see your sizeable collection of self-help books and “Buns of Steel” VHS tapes?
My advice? Handpick your most valuable items, sell them on Craigslist, donate the rest and enjoy the weekend with family and friends. Because when you come down to it, yard sales are a social event, more than a money-maker. They’re for hoarders like me who need one last ritual of separation with our junk. A chance to redistribute our past lives among the neighbors, only to buy them back the following year at their yard sale.
Vigeland: Kristina Wong is a writer and performer in Los Angeles.
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