Today is a momentous occasion; I am hosting my very first solo yard sale. I'm a little nervous since I've never had a yard sale on my own, but if I remember everything I've been taught about the art of the yard sale, I should do just fine. After all, I learned from the best.
My grandmother was the Yard Sale Queen, the Garage Sale Guru, the Ultimate Authority on tag sales, rummage sales, whatever you choose to call them. She had the biggest and best yard sales, and practically made her living selling things on her front lawn. The woman was a born salesman...er woman. She knew how to advertise, promote, display, price, and haggle. Her advertisements and promotions usually involved me dressing in some kind of costume, yelling at passing cars. She once dressed me in a bunny costume and instructed me to yell, "Hop on down to a yard sale!" at everyone going by. Another time I was dressed as a clown and my cry was something along the lines of, "Stop clowning around and come to a yard sale!" As humiliating as that was, I was always paid for my trouble. Maybe I should have used my wages to pay for some therapy.
My grandmother could sell anything. She just had a knack for making people believe that they really couldn't live without a set of mismatched spoons, or a non-working toaster, or a pair of pants that were way too small. She once sold a sweater of mine that had an A (for Amy) embroidered on it by telling a lady the A stood for Alabama. Never mind that the sweater was pink.
The best part of her sales strategy had to be her stories. She came up with wild tales to accompany her assortment of items to make them irresistible to customers. She would say things like, "This little china cup was my great-great-grandmother's. It was her only possession when she came to America from the Old Country." Of course, the reality was something more like she paid 50 cents for the cup at a Goodwill store and brought it home and stuck a $5 price tag on it. People consistently fell for it and bought her stuff, and she would laugh all the way to her little cash bag!
Of course, she met her share of tough customers. She usually proved tougher, though. If someone thought an item was marked too high and tried to get her to come down on the price, she would look them in the eye and say, "It don't eat a thing at my house." In other words, I'm not that attached to it, and I don't care what you think, that's my price.
She also had plenty of superstitions and rituals for her yard sales. The biggest and most important one was that you did not count your money until the yard sale was over. If you did, you would not make another dime. My mother said she did it once, and didn't have another customer the entire day. It became a firm rule, no matter how tempting it was to count that stack of cash, it must NOT be done until the end of the sale day.
My grandmother passed away several years ago, and I miss her terribly, especially today. I wish she were here to great customers with her usual, "Come on up, I've got a little bit of everything." She would probably have me dressed up as a monkey or a chicken, but I suppose that would be okay. We could sit on the steps and play cards and drink Diet Pepsi, and if we didn't have a single customer, it would still be a great day.
*RIP Sara Kathleen (Yancy) Theys*