Sunday, October 2, 2011

Coffee!!!! And the ABCS's of an ra yardsale...

My first cup of coffee is as clear in my mind as if it happened yesterday. In fact it happened 44 years ago. I was ten when I took my first lovely sip of this fascinating beverage and I was in love!

Coffee is something I drink regularly (right or wrong) and I find that is probably my beverage of choice. I drink it hot, cold and yes, even lukewarm. I drink it dark roasted, vanilla flavored and holiday inspired as well. I am probably what one would call a coffee addict but I have limited my intact over the past 20 years to no more then three cups per day.

Pre ra I could be found with a cup in hand first thing in the morning, second thing in the morning, driving to work, arriving at work, working at work, and leaving work. I was even known to have it as my last beverage of the evening. No, it didn't keep me awake into the wee hours of the morning. Maybe I was caffeine desensitized but post ra diagnoses I believed that caffeine would give me that boost to overcome the fatigue that goes hand in hand with ra. Of course I was so wrong but you couldn't convince me of this no matter what. Caffeine had gotten me through for so many years and I believed it would continue to give me that boost I so desperately needed to continue working, mothering, and just being.

Thirteen years into ra, I now enjoy coffee for what it is...a sumptuous hot or cold beverage that I now respect and enjoy for what it is and for what it isn't.

I will admit that yesterday during our yard sale (I am happy to report that we now have one foot on the plane) I drank it continually.  I was up at about 3:30am, took all my meds and patiently waited for them to do their job. We are fortunate in that our home has a two car garage, so setup pretty much was hitting the garage door button and unveiling the yard sale.  Maybe we should have called it a garage sale. The beauty of this is that with ra, one can take as long as it takes to setup.  Did I mention that I love having a two car garage?  And no, we never park either of our cars in this garage. Please, don't ask me why because I haven't a clue.  Well maybe I takes me 6 months to setup for a yard sale and we have two per year.

As you know, I have this bucket list item I am working on and that I am a very determined person?  I mean, what is a person with severe ra suppose to do to make extra money (that will be a future post).  And in the case of a yard sale, I am not really making money but rather trying to recoup already spent money.   My accounting major daughter and I had many conversations over this issue about our yard sale. I felt we were recouping money, she emphatically felt we were making money.  She based this on some accounting business principle on good already purchased and used...I just didn't get it but we both agreed that we were working on a shared goal.  And isn't that what really matters?  That we all can find agreement and respect for each other.

So in keeping with my abc's of ra blog principles, I am going to give you my ra garage sale tactics:

1...Do plan your yard sale way in advance. We all know that chronic illness does not lend itself well to rushing around last minute and yard sales are ALOT of work if one tries to do it last minute. Like I said, this yard sale took six months to prep.

2...Put a few boxes here and there in your home so that as you find something that you no longer want (I say six months is a perfect prep time frame), you can just drop it in the box. I have a box in my closet, a box in my sunroom, and a box in the garage near the laundry area.  I also have price tags and pen in these boxes so that when I put the item in the box, I also price it immediately. I do not price clothing individually.

3...Be flexible on your garage sale dates as the time approaches as our yard sales are dependant on the weather and our ra condition. I usually mark off a three week period whereby I am committed to having the yard sale.

4...Rally the forces for your yard sale.  Gather as many hands as you can for the day of the sale and do plan on starting your setup hours before the advertised start time. You WILL have early birds even if your advertise otherwise.  Typically your early birds will be dealers looking for that find.  I often hear people complain profusely about early birds but for me....I realize they are also trying to make a buck and to me, a sale is a sale is a sale.

5...Advertise, advertise, and did I say, advertise some more. Do use craigslist to advertise on for your yard sale (it is free) and do put out lots and lots of signs. You should repost your listing daily including the morning of your sale as Craigslist publishes sales by the date posted not the date of the sale. Please, please, please be sure to keep your signs simple, clean and with arrows directing traffic to your sale.  This website has free signs you can print out or you can buy Garage Sale signs in the store.  I prefer plastic signs in case of rain.  Again, my fellow yard sale competitors had to go back out to repair their weather wet signs (we got a downpour late am the night before).  We, on the other hand, had decided on the plastic version and had no worries.  And please be sure to recollect your signs when your sale is done.  Nothing perturbs me more then seeing old yard sale signs dangling in the wind weeks after a sale.

6...Ambiance is everything and yes, even in a yard sale.  Try to organize your sale items to make them look appealing. Be sure they are clean and neat.  I also like to have music playing but for this yard sale, I got voted down on that little mood setting tactic.  Music usually encourages people to stay longer and hopefully buy more.  I also had put nice sheets over our tables before setting up the clothing etc.  I personally like things to look clean neat and attractive.  Kinda like I am opening up a store front but in this case a garage front. I also organize stuff according to categories: clothes in one area, children's items grouped together, household, antiques, paintings, books, etc.

7...Be sure to have seating for yourself and others helping with your sale. It does get exhausting and you will be using your seat alot.  We used a tag team approach. Only one of us was out collecting money at a time while the other one stayed inside.  We took one hour shifts and for me, it worked perfect.

8...Get plenty of change. My favorite strategy is to get $150 worth of change. I ask for $1, $5, $10 and no $20. I also get $10 worth of quarters and so far this strategy has worked for me.

Pricing Strategies:

1...Price it to sell.  I know, I know you are thinking. I spent $50 on that pair of jeans and I want to sell them for $30. Well, let me nicely say...that ain't gonna happen. If you have items that you originally paid alot of money for then you might want to think consignment first or  you may wind up just like my fellow yard sale participants this past weekend. They were not selling much at all. Why you ask? Well, in my humble opinion, they were way overpriced. Of course I fully realize that in the real world of retail shopping that things cost a small fortune but in the yard sale world, you want to price it to sell it.  In my world that means below Ebay prices.  To find a reasonable yard sale price, I check on ebay to see what has sold in that same category and this gives me a good idea of what is reasonable and what isn't.  We are fortunate in my area in that we have a website called  This nifty little website allows one to list yard sale items for free (if one chooses) and then meet up with the prospective buyer at a designated time and place. I have not tried to use this service yet but I have used this website to research what would be a reasonable price on one of my items for sale and to advertise my yard sales.

2...Be willing to negotiate.  You can be 100% sure that you will get buyers that will negotiate with you over the asking price.  I tend to not discount early in the yard sale but I will negotiate more as the hours go by.  And did I mention, a smile will get you a discount alot quicker then a glare.

3...I fix price almost all my clothing.  In this particular sale we priced shirts $1, jeans $2, suit jackets $2, sweaters $2, shorts $1 and so on. My purpose is to get rid of the stuff and recoup what money I can. Otherwise, what am I going to do with this stuff?  Do I really want to repack it all to have to donate it to Goodwill or The Salvation Army or a local charity? Please, don't get me wrong, I support these organization as much as possible but I am razor focused (type A personality that I tend to still be) and I want to sell this stuff to get my bucketlist item accomplished. Laser focused!

I preprinted two price lists for clothing and put one up for buyers to see and one inside our money box for us.  On larger ticket items, I also put these items on our price list inside our money box. Sometimes prices come off (intentional or not) and this way I am not having to make up a price in a hurry. I can just check my price list and there it is! And I have a pricing code on big ticket items that allows negotiating. For example, the price ticket will say: $25 on top. Below that is the following code: SP5.  What this tell the sellers is that this item is my husband's and we can go down $5 dollars below the $25 dollar ticketed price should someone want to negotiate the price. So far this strategy has worked wonders. In the past I would have to yell for to the seller and have them tell me how much they were willing to go down on an item.  Did I mention that yard sale fanatics love to negotiate. It is a right of passage in fact!

Other helpful tips for having a successful ra yard sale...

  • plan to rest up a few days before the sale so you have enough energy for the day of the sale
  • have pain medications ready and available.
  • be sure to rest often during the yard sale if at all possible.
  • eat healthy the morning of the yard sale and have healthy snacks on hand for during the sale.
  • try to recruit helpers if at all possible or think about offering others to join in your yard sale with the understanding that they will help run it.
  • plan on having several days after the sale to rest up (you will need it).
  • precook your dinner or have something delivered.
  • don't be afraid to cancel the event if you are too sick or try to have backup helpers that will be willing to run it if you can't participate.
  • and, if yard sales are too much for you...stay tuned for a future post about other ways to raise cash.

Some of my favorite yard sale tip websites:

Yard Sale Queen
Garage Sale Source
IFG-How To Have A Successful Garage Sale


L."Wren" Vandever said...

Fabulous post, Deb! I've never had a yard/garage sale myself, but my mom is wanting to have one next spring. I'm taking your suggestions to heart and I'm sure the experience will be much better because of them. Thank you! And I hope your sale went well, that your RA behaved and that you're now that much closer to fulfilling your bucket list.

adrienne said...

Congrats on the yard sale! I love getting money for stuff that I no longer want or need. It feels like found money. We need to clean out and have a yard sale next spring. I keep donating stuff to clean out our garage. I just want it gone. Work on that bucket list!

Deb aka AbcsOfra said...

Wren...Because I am fortunate in that I have a garage, I can take my time packing up or donating what is left. They are typically alot of work but the garage setup has made them possible for me here. I think in 9 years in my older home I had one yard sale because it was so much work. You can make a decent amount of money depending on your area, what you are selling and how well you advertised. If your Mom lives way out and her area doesn't get alot of traffic for yard sales then I would consider other methods first. But if her area is a good match for doing a yard sale, I say try one. And be sure to advertise that she has x amount of years of accumulation. Alot of dealers are out there looking for stuff to resell and this will help get them in too. Before writing up the ad, check others on Craigslist to see what makes you want to go to that yard sale and emulate their ad. We had mostly clothes for this yard sale but I was happy with what we made. We stayed open from 7am - 1pm. If she has furniture and household stuff, her money made will add up quicker :-)

Adrienne...I couldn't agree with you more about getting money for stuff I no loner want or need. It is money found :-) I use to donate all my stuff for years and years but then the tax code made proving the monetary amount of goods/donations so much more difficult (if one gets audited) I said...give me the cash instead of the donation for taxes. And with the economy and all and not working...we need the cash. You won't get rich by any means from a yard sale but hopefully you can recoup some of the money you already spent. But having a yard sale can be a large amount of work and tough on the joints if you don't have help. I wouldn't recommend someone with ra doing this alone by any stretch of the imagination!

Theresa said...

First of all - I'm right there with you on the coffee. It truly is something I have enjoyed for many, many years. After my heart surgery this past August, I went about six weeks without it. Mainly because it just did not taste good. I thought - hey, this is a perfect time to kick the habit. Low and I sit, writing to you, enjoying my first cup of coffee of the day! There is just nothing like it! I figure, there have been SO many things I have had to give up because of these ridiculous diseases - I'm keeping my java around as long as I can. So far...the pros outweigh the cons!
The garage sale info is fantastic! You should start up a business...instead of a wedding planner, you could be a garage sale planner! Loved it!
Have a wonderful week, Deb!

Deb aka AbcsOfra said...

Theresa...I am so glad you found the info. helpful. And oh yes! I so agree! I couldn't imagine having to give up coffee as I too have given up so many other things with these drat diseases. But, I am not a wedding planner :-) I love attending weddings and my hubby did run a restaurant business for years but wedding planning here except my own over 25 years ago :-) One day I will post a blog on that one :-) Me, I was a corporate trainer and a medical equipment inside sales rep for years with lots of other work experience thrown in but love weddings all the same. But put me on the guest list not on the planner's

Terry said...

Deb, you are much braver than I am, too much work for a yard/garage sale. Congrats on getting one foot on the plane. Sounds like your RA was semi behaved at least. After getting in from work last night at midnight, I pulled on a sweatshirt and had a cup of coffee on the patio. It was a beautiful clear night to just relax and listen to the coyotes running, just me, my cup of coffee and little dog.

Deb aka AbcsOfra said...

Tharr...for sure they can be a ton of work. It takes me 6 months to setup (lol but I have a two car garage :-) and I would never ever attempt one on my own. I had extra helping hands which to me are a must with ra. Ours was like 95% clothing as my daughter has lost a lot of weight and I unfortunately have put on some :-( My hands are probably the worst with my ra and I could never do one on my own. Everything was setup the morning of and all we had to do was hit the garage door button and we were ready. I just had to sit there collecting the money :-) There are not too many ways to raise money now adays for anything let alone a dream...

Anonymous said...

Hi Deb,

This was a great post. Thanks for sharing so many good ideas! I wonder if yard sales will have an upsurge, with the economy still in such a dire place.

We are deep in the middle of sorting and emptying a bedroom for my daughter and her fiance to move in with us, and anticipate a HUGE yard sale soon. Your post couldn't be more timely!

One thing I've always done at yard sales is have a "free" box. People will take and use most anything, opened box of cereal, open bottles of vitamins or cosmetics, things you hate to put in the trash because they are still good, but for some reason they weren't right for you. I once had a man who was a mechanic take a whole box of worn out clothes for rags in his shop. It helps keep things out of the landfill.

Throughout the sale, at least once hourly, I will move things that haven't sold into the "free" box. My logic there is to keep from having to pack it all up and haul it to a charity. Less work for me, and some things just won't sell.

A couple of related tips that I've used for years to keep my house less cluttered:

The rule is, every time I buy something new, I must take two old things out. It used to be a 1 for 1, but find I now have to make room for RA, so 2 for 1 is working. So - 1 new book, two old ones go to the library book sale or get sold on Amazon. ! new blouse - 2 go to the consignment shop, etc. This works well when I am diligent. But I did grow up with parents who lived through the depression, so saving stuff for later is deep in my psyche.

And there's also always stuff that I don't buy, but still acquire (gifts, hand me downs, rescued treasures, etc). So, the other thing that works for me is an extension of the idea of tithing.

Every so often, I tithe 10% of my physical possessions, giving them to charity - clothes, books, music, jewelry, stuff. I actually count items and give away 10%. 1 out of every 10 pair of shoes, 1 out of every ten pair of pants. Somehow, when you've set the number that your going to send on, and set the intention of giving, it's easier to figure out what your least favorite things are.

Hope everyone of you have successful sales!

Deb aka AbcsOfra said...

Such wonderful ideas! Thanks for adding and sharing! For me I give away alot during the years in general. I give to friends, family and anyone who might want or use items. I have also cut back an immense amount of buying since getting ra. Now that "buying" will be another post for another day on how to save money :-) And I do also tithe but I tend to do it with money. And I don't do it for the tax write off either...that I could care less about personally. I also find that the ASPCA can use towels and sometimes blankets and such and I give to them for these types of things. I tend to have very few "worn" out clothes as I don't use a dryer that much except for sheets and towels. And the few rags we accumulate my hubby uses for the cars and such. Like you I HATE putting anything into the land fill. We recycle here even though it is not mandatory. We have to take our own recyclables ourselves but Mother Earth means too much to me personally. Good luck on your yard sale. Looking forward to reading your post on it. And good luck with the new move ins!

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