Comparative Analysis of Northern versus Southern Yard Sales – A Study

Many years ago when my ex-husband and I moved to Syracuse, NY we had a garage sale. We were in quite a hurry to move to Syracuse from Toledo, OH and didn’t have time to have a sale or get rid of anything before we moved but we didn’t worry too much because my company paid to move us. Once we were able to finally find and buy a house (that’s a separate, long, emotional story) we finally held a garage sale to get rid of all the extra things. Our only goal was to make enough money to buy a new sofa since neither of our sofas fit or looked good in out new house. We took out time sorting sale items as we unpacked from the move. Once we were ready we had the sale.

Also, this garage sale was in 2004, before social media really became an everyday “thing” for people of all ages. Therefore my advertising for the sale was essentially well written, easily read posters located at main intersections.

People came. They browsed. They purchased, generally $20 here, $5 there, an occasional $100 or so (for a sofa, etc). In the end we were able to rustle up $600 that bought us a pretty nice name brand couch at the overstock center of the local “nice” furniture store. We had lots of crap left over that we took to a donation center. The overall experience was a generally pleasant one. As far as the stress of hosting a garage sale goes.

Fast forward many years. Mike and I decided to full time RV. But with a decisions like this we weren’t 100% certain if we would like it or how long we’d want to continue. We actually made the decision to go full time within a month. Most people research for years, prepare for months and years and take their time paring down their belongings in preparation of finally selling a house and moving into a camper.

Nope. Not us. We sort of bought a small camper on a whim. Thought we’d leave Syracuse for about 3 months of the winter. Within a week that discussion morphed from, “well, winter here is really 6 months. So let’s RV for 6 months….. well, actually, spring is either excessively rainy or still snowy. How about we stay gone 8 months? Wait, sometimes it can start snowing the end of September. Let’s just come back for 3 months…” And then finally, “why are we spending money on a house and extra car for only 3 months??? Let’s just go full time!”

And just like that we had less than a month to clear and get rid of 2-3 properties and clean out a house, 2 storage units and a 5,000 square foot pole barn full of sh…er, crap. We tried selling the biggest stuff but we ended up giving most of it to many of our younger friends in their early 20’s – 30’s. You remember when you were that age, right? Someone wants to *give* you a table and chairs??? SURE! Now you don’t always have to eat in front of the tv! (or at least now you have another surface to stack on crap…) New, young homeowner? Yep, you can *have* the lawn mower!! We’ll even deliver it to you! Everything else was donated or trashed.

But you never really know how living in an RV is going to turn out so, just in case, we packed up a 16′ POD of stuff. In reality, it started out with things that we weren’t ready to let go, specifically, my piano. And that lead to power tools and the new sectional sofa we had bought less than a year before, beds and bed frames. But in the end I also was throwing in several bins of clothes, etc.

We had that POD in climate controlled storage in Syracuse, NY for FOUR YEARS! Ideally I would have sent the piano to my dad’s but his house at the time just wasn’t big enough, so POD it was.

FINALLY, dad and his fiancee, who both have had separate houses for years in South Carolina, finally found a bigger house with a few acres of land and a pool! But I was most excited because the house was big enough for my piano!! They closed on the house end of August and we had plans to visit for a few weeks, get the POD delivered and emptied. We would get there around September 10th, clean out and organize our camper, leave for the weekend for previous plans, come back, have the POD delivered the following week and take our time unpacking the POD and hold a yard sale on two consecutive weekends as we cleaned it out and as Dad and Wendy unearthed items they wanted to get rid of as they consolidated their houses.

Then hurricane Florence came.

We didn’t go to dad’s that first weekend. We headed to Jacksonville to wait out the hurricane. When we did get there the following week, the POD delivery was delayed a week due to hurricane damage to roads, etc. So instead of a calm, deliberate unpacking of a POD and setting up of a yard sale, we had a frantic, exhausting couple of days.

The POD was delivered on THIS PAST Wednesday morning. Dad, Mike and I had that sucker unloaded and spread across the driveway and yard in less than 2 hours. I had posted the yard sale announcement on Craigslist and about 8 local Facebook pages for sales. But by around noon on Wednesday I was panicking that we weren’t going to have time to get rid of everything! So I posted “Hey, come preview for the sale! We’re not set up for the sale yet but if you see something you want we’ll probably sell it!”

My plans for going to the bank to get proper change went out the window. But I was excited with the social media response and made a sign with details that we accepted PayPal and Venmo in addition to cash! I was so excited how far garage sale-ing had come since I had last held one.

In the south Yard Sale-ing is a religion. If you post it they will come. And come they did! Dad and Mike kept unloading and organizing items while I took care of people stopping by. By the end of Wednesday I thing we had already gotten rid of a third of what we were selling. By Thursday we had another third or more gone! People started coming Friday morning even though the posted hours for the sale were Friday 2pm – 6pm and Saturday 6am – 2pm.

Ten minutes to 2pm on Friday (10 minutes before the official opening of the sale) we were almost sold out! By 4:30 or so dad, Mike and I determined we had so little left it wasn’t worth keeping the sale going. It was all going to charity. We started closing down shop, moving stuff in the garage, taking down signs and I frantically went to try and find all the posts to notify everyone we were Closed for business.

There were many memorable moments during those few days. There was the woman that was on her way to Lowe’s to get a pitch fork, saw one of our signs and thought she’d drop by just to see if we had one. Sure enough, we did! And she wandered around the sale for over 2 hours, looking, talking to her husband and son on hr mobile about all the tools we had and what they may want. She also talked our ear off relentlessly, and that’s saying a lot coming form me!!

We had a man stop by who buys and resells stuff at the flea market. He must have wandered around for about 2 hours too. Also talking our ear off about all the stuff he’s bought and sold over the years. And how we makes his own homemade wine.

And the neighbor and her college-aged son who were actually the first people to stop by as we were unpacking the POD, gathering up a few big bins of stuff that we set aside for her and her son. (Normally we refused to hold anything for anyone but since this was dad’s neighbor and he was new to the neighborhood I made an exception. Plus, we knew where she lived. 🙂 )

Oh, did I mention that each of the above people spent about $200 EACH!

And did I tell you that they all came back AT LEAST one more time, maybe more?!?!? (and spent more money) We had several people that stopped by more than once! I had never experienced that before!

And then Thursday afternoon there was a woman looking for stuff to help her and boyfriend with some new business pursuits – specifically a hot sauce they made and were selling at farmer’s markets and their plans to open a restaurant downtown. Mike and I had put our old trade show pop-up display in the sale (minus the company artwork that attached to the display frame). I was originally going to throw it out but Mike reminded me that people buy all kinds of things at sales and to keep it in. I had a great conversation with this woman, showed her the display and gave it to her to use at their farmer’s market setup. All they have to do is buy their artwork to attach to the frame. (the frame being the most costly part of the set up. The artwork should only be $25-$50 so we saved them a lot of money. She was so excited and appreciative! And when I helped her load all the dishes, glasses, etc into her car she gave me a bottle of the hot sauce!!!

Yesterday while we were starting to wind down, one of our previous customers, the guy that resells stuff at the flea market, came back and gave us a bottle of his homemade strawberry wine!


In the north, people go to sales, browse, buy a few things and move on. But in the south… in the south they come with a vengeance! They come with perfect change. They buy LOTS of stuff and will come back. And bring their friends and relatives! And they don’t buy a few things… they buy hundreds of dollars worth of stuff!!! They are friendly and will have a conversation with you. They share intimate details of their live (for better or worse) They aren’t in a hurry. They aren’t interested in Moose Christmas decorations (that i had in NY) And they DON’T use PayPal or Venmo. 😦 I had no takers…..

In the end we made almost $2,000!!!!! And that’s even give sh*t away towards the end. It was a fast and frantic 3 days but the POD is empty!!! Most things are gone and what’s going to charity is a manage in one truck trip.

It was a great time!!!






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s